By: Anthony Granata of Hot Rod Coalition
Craigslist strikes again! My phone rang while I was at lunch with the boys on June 26th, it was Dave Wilky, letting me know there was a Lakes Modified T-Bucket for sale on Craigslist. I quickly brought up the ad listing on my iPhone and I was immediately disappointed. The cars stance was all wrong, it was a sky scrapper and not too mention way out of my price range. While discussing it with Garland and the boys they encouraged me to go take a look at it.
We arrived at Mr. Rick Kunkel’s home in Fresno, California and in the driveway sat the bucket. I tried to play the cool guy. You know, the guy that walks around the car and gives off the vibe like nothing here impresses him. Garland and Leroy however were dragging their tongues on the ground and were praising Rick like he was God’s gift to TIG welding, which didn’t help my game any. When digging into the history of the vehicle we learned that Rick is an aircraft fabricator and has built his share of aerobatic stunt planes. That resume explains why the frame on this car is absolutely gorgeous. I asked Rick why in the world he was selling such a gem and he explained that health reasons played a big part but that also his daughter was getting married. It just goes to show how great of a guy Rick is, that he’d sell his pride enjoy to give his baby girl the wedding of her dreams.
Rick handed over a list of parts that he had bought and installed on the car over the past couple years. The list totaled over $10,000 and when looking around the car it was outfitted with the industries best! Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners, Winters rear-end, Coker Bias Ply Tires, Wheel Vintiques smoothies, So Cal steering, and the list goes on. I truly believe the best aspect of this soon to be hot rod is not the parts list but the phenomenal fabrication done to the lakes modified frame and suspension.
Rick was asking $6,500 and if I paid that much then my team and I would go way over our $10,000 budget and then this “Budget Beater Hot Rod” would be a bust. There is no question that this bucket is worth every penny of Rick’s asking price but we still need to buy a motor, trans, wiring, paint, interior, and many other miscellaneous parts. I hit him where it hurts and offered him $4,500 and I publicly thank Rick for not kicking us out of his garage. He instantly looked at me like I was crazy and said his bottom dollar was $6,000. I knew I still couldn’t do that so I busted out the wad of cash and showed him all my cards, I only had $5,000 and not a dollar more. He retreated inside the house to chat with his wife, next thing I knew we where shaking hands and I was the proud new owner of a beautiful 1927 Lakes Modified T-Bucket.
Soon after the team and I went searching for a motor, Shane McMullen of Grossi Speed and Fab in Clovis, California found a perfect SBC with a mild cam and top notch parts that filled the interior and exterior of the block. This motor was turn key and the price was right at $1,000. I wanted to do something old skool but the bottom line is that I am not a master mechanic and my bride and I plan of putting thousands of miles on this car over the next year, so we wanted to keep it simple yet traditional looking. I feel pretty spoiled having Shane work of this car. He is an extremely young talent that is starting to make positive waves here in the Fresno area. Not only does he build some of the nicest custom cars but he is also getting in the manufacturing game. With that said we had to put on a set of his custom motor mounts. The 350 Chevy Small Block and Muncie four speed fit the frame rails like a glove. Now that the motor and trans is locked and loaded we will focus our attention on channeling the floor four inches, running the brake lines, and preparing for paint.
1927 Lakes Modified Build Team:
Grossi Speed and Fab: (559) 392-1283
Jimenez Custom Paint: (559) 307-2699
Fresno Tap Recycling: 866-240-7100
Fresno Auto Finishes Inc.: (559) 291- 4077
Meclec Metal Finishing and Chrome Plating: (559) 797-0101