The westernmost street rod in the US

  In comic book style, the Charles Atlas ad showed a big bully kicking sand in the face of a skinny little guy at the beach. That skinny little guy was the “before” illustration—a 97-pound weakling. After doing the Charles Atlas body building regimen, the weakling turned into a muscular macho man, able to get even with the bully and give him a taste of his own medicine.

Years ago, Chad Machado traded a few old Hawaiian soda pop bottles for a rusty 1931 Ford Model A body that was sitting in a field out on Kaua’i’s west side. Over the course of ten years, he took what he had—a “97-pound weakling” in the form of a rusty old body with no frame and no engine—and changed it into a very muscular street rod. The analogy is appropriate, because Machado is a personal fitness trainer at Westside 24 Gym at Port Allen. He knows about building bodies, both human and automotive. Although he has held several bodybuilding titles, including the 2001 Hawaiian Classic Bodybuilding Championship, he is gentle giant of a man who would never bully anybody, and certainly wouldn’t kick sand in your face.

Amazingly, Machado personally built this Model A piece by piece, with a lot of help from his friends. For starters, Machado removed what remained of the roof, turning the coupe into a roadster, a variation referred to as a “coupester.” The crew then removed approximately one foot of the rusted sheet metal along the bottom of the car and replaced it with new metal—a very difficult task due to the tendency of sheet metal to warp when welded.

After the body was straightened out, a frame was fabricated using rectangular steel tubing. Mike Malone wielded his expert welding and machining skills to build a front axle out of round two-inch tubing, fitted with Mustang spindles and four-wheel disc brakes utilizing GM calipers. Machado’s brother Floyd narrowed the Ford nine-inch differential and helped fabricate a four-link rear suspension out of polished stainless steel. On the rear, 20 inch-wide Hoosier radials are mounted on forged Cragar SS rims.

The Model A’s muscle is provided by a 468 cubic-inch big-block Chevy engine with 990 heads. A soon-to-come 8-71 GM Blower will provide even more power. The transmission is a beefy Turbo 400 with a 3,600-rpm stall converter. It’s safe to say that not many cars are going to want to try to kick sand in this coupester’s grille!

When it was time to paint the car, Chad’s wife, Joy, selected a vivid cherry red for the car. Machado’s older brother Mike applied a coat of urethane enamel and finished it off with color sanding and buffing to bring out the gloss. The Model A was dressed up with a classic “Deuce” grille from a ‘32 Ford. Another finishing touch is the custom-fabricated and hand-polished stainless steel bumpers and taillights. Jon Bostick and Guy Montemeyer get credit for the Model A’s professional-quality wiring job.

The driver sits comfortably on custom-made “bomber” seats while scanning an instrument panel that includes the original Model A gas gauge. Machado estimates he has invested more than $16,000 in his “coupester,” but he “wouldn’t trade it for any other car, ever. It’s a fun ride.” Besides, who else can lay claim to owning the westernmost street rod in the United States?

• Wheels in Motion is a weekly feature showcasing interesting island vehicles and the people who own them. Email to suggest a vehicle that should be featured.


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