From a young age, Dylan Hellman has built a reputation as a talented craftsman with an eye for innovative design. He's never hesitated to tackle any kind of project because he realized early on that there were folks like his grandfather, Al Spika, who could teach him the skills he didn't have.
So at the age of 14 he decided to build a roadster from scratch. Using a '34 Ford truck restored by a fabricator named Jimmy Shine as his inspiration, he began assembling his custom roadster from the skeleton of a Model A Ford truck.
But between designing and building the arch at the DHS football stadium, tackling two ambitious prom sets, and restoring two pickups ('56 and '77), it took eight years for him to finish the job. He also took time out to earn a degree in industrial design from the Art Institute of Colorado. With diploma in hand, Dylan decided to focus on finishing the hot rod before he got serious about finding a job. His goal was to have the custom roadster done in time for the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association show in Loveland in early June.
The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association hosts over 20 events annually across the U.S. In Loveland, over 2,400 hot rods and customs, live entertainment and automotive enthusiasts created a festive atmosphere. Competititon was fierce, with just 32 trophies awarded. At the age of 22, Dylan was one of the youngest exhibitors but his shiny '31 Ford was so impressive he walked away with the "Dare to Be Different" Award.
"The judges said that's their way of saying my roadster was one of the most unique entries," Dylan explained.
Back at home, Dylan's 1931 Ford was featured at Hellman Motor Company's annual car show during Deltarado Days. Dylan's creation will continue to be displayed at the dealership, although he does plan to take it to a car show in Gunnison in early August.
A storyboard displayed next to the roadster highlights some of the vehicle's features, like the handbuilt frame, 15.5-gallon Coors beer keg fuel tank, and handshaped fenders and aprons. The solid oak bed, cab and trim accents were made with the help of Grandpa Al. The air cleaners mounted on top of the engine were built from scratch to resemble machine guns. The running boards are from a Model T; the engine is a 302V8 with an Edlebrock intake and cam. The grill is the only authentic Model A Ford part. Whatever parts he couldn't salvage or purchase, Dylan fabricated with "country engineering."
When Dylan was ready for final assembly, he took the Model A to Martin's Auto Body, where Steve Black showed him how to paint his vehicle.
Dylan did the rest of the work in what he calls a "glorified garden shed," a 10x20-foot insulated shop that houses a welder, grinder and torch. On his website he lists the projects that came out of that shop — a four-wheel-drive lawn mower, go-carts, mini choppers, hot rods and an expandable auto transport trailer that won the top prize at the Colorado State Fair.
You'll occasionally see Dylan driving the custom roadster around town. Although the word "hotrod" conjures up images of street races, Dylan says the top speed on the Ford is a modest 70 miles an hour. And having spent a third of his life building the roadster, he's not going to take any chances — or any offers from people interested in buying it.
"This is probably the only car I'll never sell," he said. "I call it my girlfriend because I spent all my time and money on it."
Now that the roadster is finished, Dylan plans to focus his efforts on finding a job, ideally in auto design. While he wouldn't mind having a shop of his own someday, he says, "I would like to work at Ford for at least a day."
Although it's a competitive field, few applicants would be able to combine Dylan's design capabilities with his hands-on knowledge of auto mechanics. He's been playing around with different prototypes, trying to develop a drive system that doesn't need gasoline but which incorporates an attractive, desirable body shape.
Check out his website, dylanhellmandesign.com, for more photos of his roadster as well as conceptual renderings of other projects he's got in mind.blog comments powered by Disqus