Pseudo-Hot Rod Work Truck

Pseudo-Hot Rod Work Truck
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Pseudo-Hot Rod

Work Truck

By Dave Brackett

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n May of 2002, my old VW Pickup I made from a Squareback was getting very tired and worn out. I needed a new work truck, but wanted something with good mileage. I found a 1985 Toyota pickup with a new Japanese throw-away motor, it ran well and was reasonable, so I bought it.

   I had just begun regaining an interest in hot rods and custom cars, through friend Randy Bradford, of fuel altered fame, who I found living near me after not seeing him for over twenty years. I went to see the nostalgia drags at Woodburn, Or., and decided I was ready to again build custom cars. I had just finished a new home with nice workshop, so the timing was right.

While I was cleaning up my new work truck, I was thinking about a car project. I started to wonder if I could alter the Toyota pickup and make the front look like a Model A or deuce, maybe with motorcycle fenders. I wanted to keep it as a work truck, but make it look like a hot rod. I did some sketching and decided it was possible, but I would have to lengthen the wheelbase. Early cars had the front axle very near the front of the car, with motor behind, but modern cars had the front end under the motor, with more body forward of the axle.

I called my old high school buddy Bill Brundage, who had several hot rods, to get his opinion. I explained what I was trying to do, deuce style hood and grill, tube axle, wishbones, nerf bars and motorcycle style fenders. He thought it might work and then started the entire process by offering to donate a tube front axle and wishbones. Bill had a 34 Ford coupe that he built in high school and I had made a straight tube front axle and wishbone setup for it in 1964. He had recently redone the car and replaced my front axle with Mustang II style front end. He sent me the axle, wishbones and early Ford front spindles and I was on my way.

I removed the stock front bumper, fenders, grillwork, inner fender wells, suspension and everything forward of the firewall, except the frame, motor and steering box. There was an adequate front cross member, so I got out my trusty Speedway Motors catalog and ordered a transversal front spring, hangers, chrome shocks and a kit to put metric brakes on early Ford spindles. When the parts arrived, I made a front spring perch, welded it to the frame, mounted the front axle setup and built brackets to hold the tubular split wishbones. I installed the front brake kit, put on wheels, installed brake lines and set the truck on it's own wheels. I was going to install a left side drag link for the steering, but realized the stock steering box would work for cross steering, if I rotated the pitman arm 180 degrees. I made a cross steering link and tie rod, and the front suspension was done.

Now, to address the body. I used the stock hood and hinges, cutting a taper narrower in front, like a deuce hood. I fashioned hood side panels from sheet metal and welded them to the rear six inches of the Toyota front fenders. I then made a grill shell from sheet metal with a Rolls Royce look to it, bolting the hood side panels to it. Now I formed a sheet metal overlay for the stock hood to match the hood side panels and grill shell. I had run two pieces of 3/4 inch square tubing from firewall to radiator for support, so I remounted items originally on the inner fender wells to those tubes. I used the stock radiator and hood latch system. After buying two trailer fenders, I mounted them to brackets bolted to the front spindles. Nerf bars made from one inch square tubing replaced the original bumpers. Last, I made brackets to mount old style headlights and the chrome shocks. 

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I welded tubes to the front and rear to accept racks to carry long lumber or pipe. Also built a rack that bolts to the bed behind the cab to finish the overhead rack system.

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I had recently met Eiko, a floral and fashion designer from Okinawa. We started to collaborate on designs and colors schemes. As a result, I started calling my vehicles, after this point, "Daveiko" vehicles, for Dave and Eiko. Eiko is good with shapes and colors.

   After a test drive and alignment, I left it at the local body shop for body work, paint and flames. Racks and nerf bars went to powder coat and custom wheels finished the look , with big in the rear and small in the front. I now had a usable, ecconomical work truck that looked a lot like a 1960's hot rod. It took about three weeks for the work I did, and two more for the paint, so in a little over a month, I had a unique vehicle, and it is my daily driver. The only engine modification is the addition of a Weber carb. This hot rod gets 30 mpg and many curious looks.hot rod truck2