Throwback Thursday: Flannery’s Flying Model A

Flannerys Flying A Photo 2
A spare wire wheel and tire are carried on the right side of the Ford Model A racing car

 

For as long as he can remember, Kurt Flannery wanted a vintage race car, the Orangeville IL, tool salesman thought about recreating a 1920’s board track or Indy racer. That idea crystallized in 1999, when Flannery found a Model A chassis and engine block. Several thousand hours and nearly a decade later, this home built ’29 Ford race car turns heads wherever it goes.

Model A motor has a high-compression head, a Riley two-port intake and a pair of Stromberg 97 carburetors.
Model A motor has a high-compression head, a Riley two-port intake and a pair of Stromberg 97 carburetors.

 

Except for aluminum floor pans and gas tank, the body, including the firewall and dashboard is made of steel. Tiny doors provide access to the small cabin. Adjustable bucket seats have seat belts and the four-spoke steering wheel is set in the right position for a medium-height driver. The engine roars to life, reminding you that you’re not in a passenger car.

The car is licensed with regular Illinois “Land of Lincoln” license plates and has headlights and other equipment for street use.
The car is licensed with regular Illinois “Land of Lincoln” license plates and has headlights and other equipment for street use.

 

Use of a high-compression head, Riley two-port intake manifold, dual Stromberg 97 carburetors, and a V-8 water pump enabled Flannery to nearly triple the flathead four-banger’s horsepower to 110. Flannery added insert bearings and stainless valves, welded counter weights on the crank and pressurized the oiling system. He installed a Winfield grind camshaft and 24-pound aluminum flywheel. On the outside, he dressed up the motor with aluminum side covers and a ceramic coated header. Upon accelerating, the engine packs a punch and the loud exhaust echoes in your ears. Flannery chose number 27 for this 1900-pound racer as a tribute to Gilles Villeneuve, whom he met while both raced snowmobiles in the early 1970s.

It took Kurt Flannery nearly 10 years to realize his automotive dream, but now he whistles all over the place in his black bombshell.
It took Kurt Flannery nearly 10 years to realize his automotive dream, but now he whistles all over the place in his black bombshell.

 

Stewart Warner gauges grace the dash. The floor lever shifts handily through the three-speed manual gearbox, while mechanical brakes provide sufficient stopping power. The race car sits 10-1/2 inches lower than the Model A. Flannery Z’d the frame, which lowered the frame and body without altering the suspension. Wheelbase was stretched to 114 inches and the speedster rides on 21-inch wheels. “Building this race car was a long but fun journey,” says Flannery. “The biggest challenge was constructing the body.”

Flannerys Flying A Photo 5

Flannery made cardboard templates to get the body shape he was looking for and used steel tube to create the skeleton. He had no experience in this area and learned by trial and error. “I borrowed a bench top English wheel, but really didn’t know how to use it, I also had an Enco 3 in 1 machine. I started with the smaller parts, and many pieces of scrap metal later, managed to turn out the speedster body I had dreamed of,” he says. “Anytime someone stopped by my shop and asked what I was building, I pointed at the pictures on the wall and I told them I hoped mine would turn out half as good,” says Flannery.

 Adjustable black vinyl bucket seats have red seat belts and the four-spoke steering wheel is set in the right position for a driver of Kurt’s stature.

Adjustable black vinyl bucket seats have red seat belts and the four-spoke steering wheel is set in the right position for a driver of Kurt’s stature.

 

Not surprisingly, most of the 8,000 miles on the speedster’s odometer were accumulated while driving to vintage car races. Flannery also enjoys putting the car-which he values at $20,000-in the concours d’elegance at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

About John Gunnell 104 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.
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