by Gary Smith
Featured in the June 2015 issue of Street Rodder Magazine.
I was introduced to Neil DeAtley, a Scottsdale car collector, in 2005 by a mutual friend who thought I could help Neil get his project car started right before it got too far along. During several sessions with the car, I was able to get the stance, attitude, and lines of the car to work together. Later I proposed and taped on the car a modern scallop two-tone paint scheme, and showed Neil a variety of color combinations to choose from. Having the engine exposed throughout the graphics was just a natural.
I thoroughly photographed the car and sent out packets to a couple of magazines to see if there was any interest. Eric Geisart of Street Rodder responded and came to Neil’s in the fall of 2012 to take his own photos that ended up in the magazine. He was very complementary and urged Neil to enter the car in the Great American Roadster Show.
Why did Neil build a Track-T?
This car is a recreation of his first teenage wheels.
Neil was 17 years old in 1954 and in High School. His dad took him to Portland, Oregon (the nearest large city) to look for a car. They looked in the Sunday paper and Neil spotted a ’27 Ford-T Roadster for sale. He bought the car, and had a tow bar fabricated for the trip back to Lewiston, Oregon. The Roadster had a top, a ’32 Chevy grill, but no engine. Neil found a new ’49 Ford V8 flathead for the Roadster. The engine ended up with aluminum heads and lots of chrome. Neil has been in the car hobby ever since.
Neil’s First Track-T
Neil has been in the car hobby for decades, including DeAtley Motorsports that campaigned in the Trans Am in the ’90s, winning the championship with Camaros sponsored by Budweiser and driven by Willy T. Ribbs and David Hobbs. His current collection is around 100 cars, including a Mercedes Gullwing, classic Packards, Cadillacs, several street rods, and even a Buick GNX with 1200 miles. His latest acquisition is all four Motorama cars from 1953: an Oldsmobile Fiesta, a Cadillac Eldorado, a Buick Skylark, and a Corvette, number 30 out of 300.
The Track-T was built over a five year period among other projects. The car started out in concept to be a simple Track-T, but evolved into a very streetable showpiece. Jim Martin built the car at Neil’s facilities. There are a number of extremely innovative features Jim engineered into the car. For example, the Stewart Electric EMP pump is mounted behind transmission. The frame is used to conduit water to the pump. The alternator is also missing from under the hood. It is driven race car style from a pulley mounted to the pressure plate and hidden under the car.
A Few Early Shots
There are several custom fabricated front suspension pieces, including the steering arm and headlight/shock brackets. The wildwood master brake and clutch cylinders are mounted under dash, using Clevis end joints. Fluid reservoir is remotely mounted under hand operated cowl vent. This fabricated assembly was painstakingly engineered to fit into the tight space under the dash. The hood hinges are Bilt-Rite hinges from Sachse Rod Shop, extensively re-worked by Jim Martin.
The 1927 Track-T body is by Wescott, but it was extensively reworked in-house including a rolled rocker/belly pan look added to rear of body. The hood and side panels are custom, and the nose is an extensively modified piece from Speedway. The door latching mechanism is reworked. The doors feel and sound very solid and satisfying. Fit is perfect. Jim did an outstanding job building and painting the car.
I created and laid out the stylized scallop graphics. The graphics complement the forms and suggest speed. I also proposed opening the hood side panels where the design loops around the side of the hood, exposing the engine.
Photos by Gary Smith
The car has a great stance. The paint scheme has a nostalgic connection to the past in terms of both color and shape, but with a modern flare. Much effort went into the design and layout of the graphics to ensure that the lines complemented the body forms and look good in all views. Exposing the engine within the graphics as they loop through the hood side panels adds a nostalgic hot rod touch.
The fit and finish of the car is superb. Jim Martin did an outstanding job creating a myriad of original details that add up to a very high-quality car. Locating the water pump and alternator under the car and hiding the master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder under the cowl make for an incredibly clean engine compartment.
Neil says that the car works great and is a blast to drive.