Some of the most creative minds in America specialize in the develop-ment of interesting and catchy marketing programs intended to attract new customers as well as re-energize old customers, all at the same time. These ways of doing business are just as important in our world of the enthusiast car culture. We also tend to cheer and celebrate when one of our chosen suppliers decides to experience our own passions by "living the life" and actually building a hot rod.
Since the Miller Electric Corporation was formed in 1929, a unique plan was developed in order to celebrate its 75th year in business. Though its line of welding equipment is used virtually everywhere there's steel, the company decided to use a genuine hot rod to bring this celebration full circle. The vehicle of choice was a 1929 Ford roadster pickup-the same donor model that was likely to have been used by Niles Miller himself as his young company began to flourish. This version would be a hot rod, though, with Ford power from Roush Racing. The company's motto, "Dream It-Weld It," would certainly be tested throughout this buildup. However, this plan included yet another element of attention. The Miller crew decided the completed roadster pickup would need to tow one of its Trailblazer welders mounted on a custom trailer, built to match. Oh, one more thing. This fully functional welder would not be a stock, off-the-shelf nit powered by a 20hp motor. No sir, it'd be powered by a Roush Racing 302 Ford engine, just like the pickup!
Wayne Reece was charged with project manager duties and worked diligently on everything from initial concept, planning, execution, and hands-on assembly, as well as figuring out the flashy debut of this rumbling marketing marvel. Along the way, however, Wayne saw the importance of demonstrating the use of tools and techniques that are within the realm of the typical home-hot-rodding hobbyist. This concept was so important to Wayne and his Louisville hot rod builder buddy, Pat Keating, that the Miller welding and plasma-cutting equipment used throughout the project was neither exotic nor expensive. As a consummate company man and master of marketing, Wayne noted that almost anyone can learn to use a Miller welder or plasma cutter-even us editors.
Since we're dealing with a hot rod and its companion hot rod trailer, let's talk a bit about that tag-along unit first. During the pickup's assembly, Wayne's crew at Miller's Appleton, Wisconsin, headquarters went to work on the trailer. There's no better way to create internal company excitement than to involve key personnel in a project like this, and Wayne was instrumental in pulling all these various aspects of creation together. The trailer uses a Super Bell dropped axle with an airbag suspension system that allows the welder to be raised and lowered. Several weeks in construction, the trailer needed to be lengthened in order to accommodate its companion '29 radiator in order to cool that Roush 302 welder powerplant. The Miller crew worked hard to adapt this monster motor and all the necessary wiring, alternator, and generator that actually powers the Miller ensemble. Plus, when you're building anything that's one-off, it becomes totally clear that you're wading in uncharted territory very quickly. However, that's where good old American ingenuity comes into play.
Even more pop and sizzle was built into this tag-along accessory designed to join steel to steel, as Zoomie headers were used, along with a pair of Brookville Roadster '29 Ford fenders and matching taillights to complete the theme. You have to admit, the Miller crew in Appleton did a super job building this dynamic part of the project.
The roadster pickup itself underwent some metal modifications, but the steel body and fenders from Brookville Roadster served as the project's foundation. However, this may be the only roadster pickup around to have electric windows. Officially, that means it can't really be called a roadster pickup (as roadsters don't have windows), but we'd bet those two pieces of electrically operated glass sure add to the driving enjoyment-especially when the control knob for the Vintage Air unit is cranked to the on position.
Yet another unique feature for this picker-upper is the custom, aluminum removable hardtop. Yep! That's another item that undoubtedly adds to the driveability factor, and it was created by metal master Ron Covell and principal project associate, Pat Keating. Then again, you may already know that part, since highlights of this build-up exercise were featured on The Learning Channel's "Rides" TV show last September.
Reece contacted Roush Racing for this project's primary and secondary powerplant chores as a result of Miller Electric's partnership with Jack Roush's NASCAR program. That's not only a natural element of marketing, but it's also very cool when well-known companies like these can tie their resources together to create such a unique project. Besides the aforementioned project partners, additional assistance came from Scotts Jr. Upholstery in Louisville, Kentucky, using a combination of leather, ostrich hide, and Daytona Weave carpeting. Wayne's son, Tom Reece, handled the stereo installation with help from Metra Electronics using JBL and Tsunami components. Louisville-based Taylor's House of Color performed the paint chores using ample amounts of DuPont Blue Mood paint, while Dan Taylor also applied graphics.
With each respective craftsman involved in completing the specialized tasks on schedule, company president Mile Weller and the entire team at Miller Electric were delighted with the outcome. Not only does this proud American manufacturing concern have a great marketing tool, it also has a one-of-a-kind way to commemorate the anniversary of its founding father, Niles Miller.
The Roush engine shop whipped...
The Roush engine shop whipped up a nice Ford (of course) 302 stroker motor, which has a final displacement of 347 inches.
With the bedcover up, you...
With the bedcover up, you can see the ultimate stereo system based on the efforts of Tom Reece, who handled the stereo installation with help from Metra Electronics using JBL and Tsunami components.
The gauge cluster is the popular...
The gauge cluster is the popular twin pack that accounts for the speedo and a four-gauge cluster in one all from TPI.
The polished front independent...
The polished front independent comes by way of TCI Engineering and features Baer brakes and coilovers.
Billy Scott of Scotts Jr....
Billy Scott of Scotts Jr. Upholstery performed his chores in fine fashion, covering the removable aluminum top with Mercedes-type cloth, and trimming the cabin with a combo of leather and ostrich hide.
The ididit steering column...
The ididit steering column works the Mustang II rack-and-pinion while a Lokar shifter operates the Ford C6 assembled by Phoenix Transmissions.
While some may ask, "Why is...
While some may ask, "Why is this welder powered by a Roush 302?" those of us who "get it" say, "Why not?" The project crew at Miller headquarters in Appleton, WI, can be very proud of this important piece of the overall pie.
Facts & Figures
1929 Ford roadster pickup
|Frame / Manufacturer ||Total Cost Involved Engineering (Ontario, CA) |
|Wheelbase ||stock |
|Modifications ||boxed frame, independent front suspension |
|Chassis plumbing ||polished stainless |
|Rearend / Ratio ||Ford 9-inch / 3.50:1 |
|Rear suspension ||TCI Eng. coilovers |
|Rear brakes ||Baer |
|Front suspension ||TCI Eng. independent, stainless spindles |
|Front brakes ||Baer |
|Master cylinder ||Corvette |
|Steering box ||Mustang II |
|Front wheel make, size ||Foose Design / 17x7 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Foose Design / 17x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||Michelin MXV-4, 195/50R17 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Michelin MXV-4, 235/65R17 |
|Gas tank ||stainless, 12-gal |
|Make ||2005 Ford by Roush Racing (Livonia, MI) |
|Displacement ||347 stroker |
|Machining / Assembly ||Roush Racing |
|Radiator ||Walker (Memphis, TN) |
|Alternator ||Tuff Stuff |
|Valve covers ||Roush Racing |
|Induction ||Holley, K&N |
|Ignition / Wires ||MSD |
|Headers ||block-hugger |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||2" pipes |
|Make ||Ford C6 by Phoenix Transmissions |
|Converter ||Phoenix, 2,200-rpm stall |
|Body style / Material ||roadster pickup / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Brookville Roadster (Brookville, OH) |
|Body mods ||flush-mounted doors, extended cab, molded (w/ lead) side mirror mounts, removable aluminum top |
|Hood ||Brookville Roadster |
|Grille ||'29 Ford shell |
|Bodywork ||Pat Keating |
|Paint type / Color ||DuPont / Blue Mood |
|Painter ||Taylor's House of Color |
|Graphics ||Dan Taylor |
|Headlights / Taillights ||'29 Ford |
|Bumpers ||'29 Ford |
|Other body items ||chrome by Louisville Plating |
|Dashboard ||'32 Ford |
|Insert / Gauges ||TPI |
|Stereo / Speakers ||JBL head unit, DVD player, Tsunami amps, speakers & subs by Metra Electronics, installed by Tom Reece |
|Air conditioning ||Vintage Air (San Antonio, TX) |
|Wiring ||Glen Miller |
|Steering column ||ididit (Tecumseh, MI) |
|Seats ||Fiero |
|Upholsterer ||Scotts Jr. Upholstery (Louisville, KY) |
|Material / Color ||leather & ostrich hide / gray |
|Carpet ||Daytona Weave |