Traditional 1930 Model A Sedan With A Twist

Gerry Kerna’s Award Winning Channeled Model A Sedan

By Brian Brennan   –   Photography By John Jackson

Every hot rod is different but some are unique. At first glance this 1930 Ford sedan belonging to Gerry Kerna of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, while very cool looking, appears to be a build style you’ve seen before. It’s only after much closer examination that you realize this lightly channeled Model A sedan is so much more. Gerry is a longtime hot rodder, but this latest effort speaks to her desire to have something different but well within the sphere of what any hot rodder can appreciate.

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02 Gerry Kerna s hot rod found in a storage garage in Cranberry Township Pennsylvania

The 1930 Ford sedan was a “barn find” (sort of), as it was found in a storage garage, and it had the obligatory bullet holes. It was the “holes” that Gerry found interesting and tipped her over into wanting the Ford Model A for her next project. From here Gerry sought out Mark Giambalvo of Creative Rod and Kustom in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania. (Creative Rod and Kustom is no stranger to turning out some incredible hot rods. Go back to the Modern Rodding Nov./Dec. ’20 issue and see Rocky Boler’s 1933 Ford cover car.) Giambalvo received the nod to design the build and then brought the dream to life. He worked with Eric Black of e. Black Design Co. to capture the “just right” look both inside and out. The channeled Model A does have a name. After a festive evening with a group of close friends and possibly with the help of an “emotional character stimulant,” the group settled in on the name Rebel A. Jason Krzmarzick, of Krzmarzick Designs, created the logo with the subtle use of the letter “A” as part of the bottom of the “R” in the word “Rebel”. You will find the “Rebel” logo used on the center cap of the Dayton Wire Wheels as well as on the horn button of the SPARC Industries steering wheel.

04 Mark Giambalvo of Creative Rod and Kustom the designer of this unique hot rod

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The channeled Model A body does feature a 4-1/4-inch top chop by Cornfield Customs LTD that is then fit over the custom Roadster Shop chassis. Roadster Shop also received the nod to fabricate the one-off firewall that features factory beadwork and the roof and its skin is also Deuce reminiscent. Next up the floor pan and the body edges gracefully follow the shape of the crossmembers as the body is lightly channeled over the frame. We are speaking of Ford Model A here, so the doors were flush fit and gapped by Creative Rod and Kustom once more reminiscent of a Deuce. (It should be noted that Ford did make some late assembly line changes to the 1931 Model A sedans, allowing their doors to be flush fit as Ford tooling for the coming ’32.) The flush fit exercise was handled by Creative Rod and Kustom, and they also made the custom 25-louver hood sides while the hood itself is a Rootlieb product. The hinges themselves are by way of Hagan Street Rod Necessities. Next up the bodywork was performed at Creative Rod and Kustom; they also applied the PPG basecoat/clearcoat with a Rebel Green final color.

05 The Model A sedan named Rebel A

Other body appointments are the one-off billet windshield frame by Alumicraft who also received the nod to make the one-off Pines Winterfront–style grille while the shell itself is a Brookville Roadster item with a 2-1/2-inch chop. (The Pines Winterfront grille was invented by James Raleigh in the early ’20s that featured a thermostat allowing the vents to remain open when warm or closed when cold.) The door handles are ’30-31 while the gas cap comes from Crafty B followed by the custom license plate mount and frame by Creative Rod and Kustom and Ninja Robot. (A bit of motorcycle heritage here.) The headlights and taillights come by way of Greening Auto Company (known industry wide for their machine work). The headlights are 9-inch round mounted to custom headlight stands while the taillights are custom lights on small stands. All the brightwork as well as the custom black pearl finish was expertly done by Advanced Plating.

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13 1930 31 door handles on the Model A sedan

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We should take a moment here to explain just how custom the one-off chassis is as Roadster Shop performed a great deal of work to make the chassis fit the Ford Model A body perfectly as well as achieve the perfect ride height and stance. In speaking with Jeremy Gerber of Roadster Shop, he tells us the following about the 107-1/2-inch wheelbase, Deuce-style chassis.

15 4 1 4 inch top chop by Cornfield Customs LTD on the Model A body

“The frame rails are completely custom designed to follow the shape of the Ford Model A body. Roadster Shop thinned the ’rails out about 1-1/2 inches from the height of a stock rail height. Now it looks sleeker and streamline from the side of the car and makes the car look channeled more than it is while retaining interior room. The front of the frame rails is pinched to blend into the grille shell width and then the ’rails are laid down and straightened out to run parallel to the ground as opposed to a large kickup in the front. The 1932 frame rail reveal was modified and hand shaped to properly intersect the end of the Ford Model A cowl rather than trail off past it like stock 1932 ’rails would do. (Credit to “Deuce-Master” Chad Glasshagel for training Gerber on hand hammering and stamping the 1932 frame rail reveal back in 2003.)

16 Custom gas cap on this 1930 Ford Model A

“From here the old-school center K-member was punched with flare holes so that the exhaust routing for 2-1/4-inch dual pipes would pass through. Next up the four-link suspension with convoluted airbag and external monotube Ridetech shocks were added. From here the customer-desired ride height was determined and desired distance from rear tire to body beltline, then 2 degrees of rake added to the body. From Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop custom-billet front wishbones with spring perch bosses for mounting the spring behind the axle and inboard-mounted front shocks with faux billet friction shock–looking cantilever assemblies were added.”

18 1956 Caddy 365 inch V8 engine in the Model A sedan

Bookending the Super Bell 4-inch drop axle is the Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop Kinmont Safety Stop brakes with internal four-piston disc brake package in front and 10-inch drums in back. Also in front are the Johnson’s radius rods and Ridetech Shocks while in back there is a Strange Engineering Ford 9 inch rear end package and Ridetech airbags and ViAir 480c compressor. At the corners are a set of Dayton wire wheels, 16×5 and 18×7, laced in a cross pattern with one-off knockoffs by Alumicraft. The rubber is by way of Coker in the Excelsior Stahl Sport Radials, measuring 5.50R16 in front and 7.00R18 in back.

20 Ninja Robot was once again tapped for the custom air cleaner

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Huddled between the frame rails is a 1956 Caddy 365-inch V8 engine that was put together by Fast Eddie Eckenrode. The vintage V8 engine is topped with an Autotrend billet aluminum EFI 48. This system was brought about to replicate the vintage Stromberg 97 and 48 carburetors Tri-Power look with what is called the EFI 48. The EFI 48 utilizes a single oval butterfly that allows up to 65 percent more airflow than a conventional Stromberg 97. What does that mean? The Stromberg 97 may flow upwards of 203 cfm while the Autotrend EFI 48 flows upwards of 344 cfm. Lots more performance! Ninja Robot was once again tapped for the custom air cleaner. The satin finish as well as the brightwork was handled by Advanced Plating. Exiting the now-used gasses is a custom exhaust system built by Creative Rod and Kustom running through 2-1/4-inch stainless steel tubing that then works in collaboration with Works Smooth tube mufflers. Attached to the Caddy V8 engine is a Bowler-prepped TREMEC TKO600 5 Speed Manual Transmission with a Hurst shifter.

23 Autotrend billet aluminum EFI 48 on the vintage V8 engine

BUX Customs designed, fabricated, and was responsible for the interior. The custom bucket seats are stitched in a medium brown leather while in back there isn’t seating but a place where the stainless steel Rick’s Tanks is housed. As you look about you will notice the liberal use of black walnut—96 pieces—that was layered and epoxied to create the custom roof insert. Up next is the Deuce custom dash that is now outfitted with a one-off bezel filled with custom Classic Instruments from their specialty shop. Handling the wiring chores is an American Autowire Vintage Cloth Highway 15 system along with a Powermaster starter and an XS battery. DEI was selected for their Boom Mat to handle the sound and heat deadening responsibilities. Attached to the bottom of the 1932 dash is the Vintage Air control panel while an ididit steering column and LimeWorks combination of steering column and drop are now in service. The column is topped with a custom SPARC three-spoke steering wheel with its custom horn button featuring the Rebel A logo. Resting beneath the dash is the combination of the Hurst shifter and the Lokar pedal assembly in unison with a Kugel Komponents under cowl pedal assembly. (Real hot rods have three pedals!)

25 American Autowire Vintage Cloth Highway 15 system in the Model A sedan

The 1930 Ford sedan is no stranger to taking home the “iron” as it has been awarded a SEMA Top 12 Battle of the Builders, Goodguys Top 5 Hot Rod of the Year, Top 5 Street Rod of the Year, and a Builders Choice. It has also taken home Detroit Autorama Best Rod. This is one hot rod that does show as advertised—truly topflight effort. MR

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Traditional 1930 Model A Sedan With A Twist.

mr november 2023

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