There’s a constant in any car project that basically comes down to the measurement of time.
Time is measured in glacial movement terms, not average lifespan of a human being terms.
Nobody picks up a welding torch for the first time in his life and builds a classic 1923 Model T-bucket in three months.
Nobody except Derrick Anderson.
Derrick is a hands-on guy because he’s had to be in his real job as a pawn shop owner. Some of the stuff that comes into the shop needs care and attention so the only way to keep a margin is to fix it yourself.
That’s why this rookie welder wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of learning to weld on the job when he took on this ’23 T project.
Derrick found the project car via a buddy who, as he recalled, “he had a bunch of late teen car bodies. He sold off all the bodies but he said there was a frame down there that might be worth grabbing”.
He remembered what the frame was like when he first saw it,”The frame was a disaster. It was broken twice and it had some pretty bad welding repair done to it”. That’s when Derrick’s inner “do it yourself guy” took over the project.
He didn’t want to pay somebody a ton of money to fix the frame so the solution was simple, “I bought a welder off a buddy and learned how to weld. I turned into a pretty good ten foot welder-that why my welds look pretty good from ten feet away. I spent twice as much time working on the frame as I did on the rest of the car “.
Derrick explained why he did so much work himself in one sentence, “I didn’t have a pile of money to play with so you just learn how and make do with stuff you have lying around.
He admitted, once the ball started rolling the parts started coming in like the 327 cubic inch 425 horse motor.
That why Derrick’s pawn business was such a key part of the project as he recalled,“I found things like the taillights on a carriage when I needed something cool and I made the transmission hump out of a Purity 99 oil can. The tequila bottle took awhile to find. I looked for years for cool bottles and I only found one that looked like this so it had to go on the engine. The signal lights I found at a farm and the housings are baffles from a Harley”.
Derrick admits that he had a fair amount of help with the project, “I left the door open and guy would wander in and end up helping. I live in a small town and I think it takes village to build a rat rod”.
Despite what non-car people think, there s a fair amount of planning that goes into a rat rod. There are things like the trunk area as Derrick explained, “I needed to build a trunk for the battery and after that I decided to put the fuel cell there too”.
These vehicles are a personal statement and the bearskin is another example, “I had it for quite awhile and I wanted to use it for the rod and I did but I put a lot of work into it before I could use it but people love it”.
Derrick admits that this is an ongoing project even though he essentially built it in three months. He did solid work on the car because it had to pass an out of province safety to be registered, They had to make up a registration number for it but it passed pretty easily, “I take my grandkids in it so it had to be safe enough for them so I wasn’t surprised”.
But he concedes, “It’s still a work in progress because it rides pretty hard so I need to look at the springs plus I want to rig up a tilt steering wheel so I can slide in there easier. Even though it’s kind of freaky when you first run an open wheel car, it’s a lot of fun”.
Cars like this have such a personal connection to the builder that they start planning a succession plan. Derrick explained his,“I have two sons but this one’s going to my grandson”.
That sure beats inheriting Grandpa’s stamp collection.
*Take a look at this link for an MSCC August 2011 article about a nasty ’27 T pickup.