Most of the basic frame modifications are complete. Still a lot of work to do on the back end which will be stepped big time. Will need to box the front end of the frame if we go with as heavy an engine as I'm leaning toward. May also need to modify the mid section of the frame to accommodate an exhaust cutout as I'm planning to run open headers.
Really promising start on the front end.
Since this is my first project car I've been mindful of tips gathered along the way. One of the most useful ones has been to choose a theme for the project & stick to it as much as possible.
Makes sense. If you don't have a clear vision & discipline to stick to it the project inevitably turns out like some Frankenstein version of what you set out to accomplish.
In conceptualizing this '35 truck I have a few goals. First I want it to be radical. Radical looking first & foremost, but I also want it to be raw. I want to smell the fuel, sport open headers that drown out any possibility of conversation & be an extreme hot rod without apology. The car has to have manners (not a deathtrap) but it needs to be aggressive. Most importantly, it has to be FUN (isn't this what rodding is all about). Fun to look at, fun to talk about & fun to drive. This won't be a trailer queen. It’s gotta be stupid fast & strong enough to lay down a track of molten rubber for a full city block.
All said & done this effectively rules out a traditional restoration project. So what then?
In keeping the above goals in mind I've decided to build a semi-period correct dry lakes racer circa 1955. Being a So-Cal native myself this captures the goal of a raw hot rod while taking me back to a time period I've been enamored with for a good while. I've always been drawn to linear speed & wanted to do a run at El Mirage or Bonneville. For a number of reasons the dry lakes theme fits my personal interests nicely.
When making even the smallest decisions about the build I often ask myself the following question:
"If I lived in 1955 & wanted to build a dry lakes racer, what would I build?"
The question frames up the multitude of future decisions nicely.
You get the point.
All this said, cynical rodders might point out that the choice of a pickup for a dry lakes racer isn't strictly period correct. California rodders in the '50s would have likely favored a 1932 hi-boy or a belly tank racer rather than a pickup. That's true, but you know what? I've been more heavily influenced by Rudy Rodriguez's truck than any other hot rod. In my mind it's at least feasible that I might have built this '35 truck in 1955 if it's all I had on-hand to work with.
For me, the theme provides guidelines. I'm not going to be a slave to the theme. I expect to make
trade-offs where it makes sense. Still. you still won't see me putting 1970's rocket wheels on this truck, as much as I may like them.
In summary, I'm keeping the following guidelines in mind. Let's see if I can stick with them.
Remember that rusty frame from an earlier post? Well its been sandblasted & looks pretty respectable. It'll be sandblasted again before paint.
The frame, like most other components of this truck will be heavily modified. To start Rudy at Fullerton Fabrication shortened the frame by about a foot to reduce the overall wheelbase.
Before I get too far along on this site I should mention that I'm partnering with the famed Rudy Rodriguez of Fullerton Fabrication on this build. I didn't anticipate arriving at this point when I initially called Rudy in hopes of some build advice. It's a cool story on how we met up, but I'll save that for a later date. Needless to say I couldn't be happier to have his expertise & eye for detail as the builder of this project. I had intended to tackle more of the build myself to save money but with an opportunity like this I'm perfectly content in my role as "owner."
So here you go - day one. Major components have started arriving at Rudy's shop.
Here's a couple shots of the Ford cab I recently purchased. Hopefully you're not too surprised by the rusty patina. This gem is almost 80 years old after all. All in all I'm really happy to have genuine Henry Ford steel. I'll talk about the truck's theme in a later post & it'll make sense why I've chosen to build a period correct truck.
There are a couple reasons I'm geeking out on this cab. First, this is an original 1935 Ford pickup cab. Might not seem like a big deal to you, but consider that in 1935 people didn't drive pickups as their daily drivers. These were work trucks, pure and simple. Finding an original cab in good condition is difficult & costly as these farm trucks were typically beat into the ground. The cabs are found in rough shape today & the beds are worse. In my humble opinion this '35 I picked up is a pretty good example.
The 1935 Ford pickup was the first year of the "redesign" after the square looking Model T's built in the 20's & early '30's. I think it's kinda cool to have the first of the "new" body style.
One last detail few people pickup on. The 1935 cab was the only model year that had a body line directly below the A pillar. From '36 onward this is a smooth transition from the roof to the main body. Just another minor detail that makes the '35 cab unique in my mind.
Anyhow, very cool to have this cab ready to go even though we won't be working on it for some time. Get a good look at its original form. By the time this cab is sandblasted, chopped, channeled & otherwise modified into its new hot rod persona you might not recognize it.
Some friends & family suggested that I start a blog after they heard I was building a project car. I figure most share my passion for all things hot rod though I also expect a handful wonder why the hell I'm doing this. Mid life crisis? Maybe. Bored? Could be. Disrespect of money? Probably.
Truth is, I should be saving the cash I'm putting into this ride. That said, the ultimate answer to "Why?" I suppose is - "Why not?" We only live once. It's a good enough answer for me.
But if you need further explanation, you need to understand that this isn't a phase I'm going through. You see I always wanted something fast & impractical.
From a young age I had a passion for cars. My grandfather introduced me to Matchbox toys & sponsored my early collection. As I played I'd often pick my favorite three to five models & wonder what it'd be like to have a small collection of cool cars in real-life. A daily driver is great, but how about something ridiculously fun you could drive around on the weekends?
By my teens I'd decided I'd own a Ferrari someday. I wanted to be a fireman too but as time marched on I realized that neither are really practical goals. Sure, a Ferrari costs as much as a house, but there's more subtle reasons to avoid them at all costs. I once asked a colleague who drove a Ferrari what it's like to cruise through Santa Monica in one. "It's like driving down the road holding your middle finger out to everyone." Interesting insight. I kinda prefer the thumbs up.
So if not an exotic, what else might be fun?
In high school I had a friend who had a 1969 Firebird convertible with a 350ci engine. It was epic. Later I met up with a friend who owned a bad-ass Chevelle that we took to the Social Distortion concert in Hollywood. Nearly ended up in jail that night. Long story. But again, epic.
Beyond the memorable rides I grew up with, what else has led me to the decision to build a hot rod? Maybe it was Mike Ness & Social D. The Rat Pack perhaps? A fondness for the "simpler times" in the 1950s. Black & white pics of my dad during his James Dean phase in front of his P-51 Mustang from the air force days? Growing up my dad told me a story about one of his project cars - didn't end well & they buried it in the backyard with a backhoe (probably still there).
In all likelihood it's all of these things, yet none of them that led me here. Who knows? Bringing a '35 farm truck back to life isn't completely rational & I can't explain it. I'm OK with that.
One way or the other, the truck you'll see take shape here will be wicked looking, stupid-fast & fulfill a dream I've always had. Is it OK to consider something this impractical & fun a sensible choice? We only live once.
I can see the finished truck clearly. The end result will certainly not appeal to everyone. A select few will appreciate what I'm after but most importantly, when this project is finished, it'll please to me.