When it comes time to give credit for the construction of first-class street rods, kudos often go to a variety of individuals. In the case of Joe Gonzalez's incredible cabover, the list is headed up by Richard Graves and Jeb Scolman of Richard's Wheel and Chassis, but an honorable mention has to go to three other guys as well--Manny, Moe, and Jack, aka the Pep Boys.
Joe went to work for the trio of parts purveyors (to be accurate, there were originally four) at the tender and impressionable age of 16 and from that point on, he was a confirmed hot rodder. Eventually Joe found himself in the towing business and his appreciation for trucks began to grow, and it was just a matter of time before work and play were combined. The result was a street-rodded '23 Ford tow truck.
When Joe's T needed some TLC, he sought the services of fellow Long Beachian Richard Graves, proprietor of Richards Wheel & Chassis. Richard has produced a number of recognizable cars; many of them have been splashed across the pages of this and other street rod publications. But while his cars are often well known, the man behind them isn't. And while that seems like a contradiction, it fits Richard's persona perfectly. He's a big guy with an imposing presence who is mild-mannered and soft-spoken. He's one of the most talented rod builders in the country, but he doesn't have an ego--talk about your contradictions.
After a couple of visits to Richard's shop to check on his T, Joe spotted a '39 Ford COE (cab over engine) stored on a rack. A few more visits and he became convinced that it was the truck for him; he also knew Richard and his extremely talented right-hand man, Jeb Scolman, were the guys to build it. As Joe tells it, "It took six months of bugging Richard, but he finally agreed to sell it to me."
Construction began by shortening a 1-ton Chevy dually chassis. The stock front suspension received a pair of Bell Tech dropped spindles and in back the rear axle was moved to the top of the springs that now operate without the overloads. To provide adequate suspension travel, the 'rails were C'd above the housing. Brakes on both ends are stock Chevy truck activated by a Corvette master cylinder with a 9-inch booster and a custom pedal.
Moving the masterpiece down the road is a bone-stock 2003 LS1 backed by a 4L60E overdrive automatic transmission. Lifted from a low-mile 2004 Pontiac Trans Am, the engine and transmission's electronic functions are managed by an original factory computer reprogrammed by Speed & Performance. Along with most of the construction, Jeb fabricated a custom 18-gallon tank for fuel as well as the pipes to get rid of the exhaust.
Turning his attention to the sheetmetal, Jeb filled the cab's side vents and then massaged all the sheetmetal to perfection. With the size of the cab, the proportions of the bed were going to make or break this truck, so Jeb started with a '56 Ford 1-ton longbox. Many, many hours later it had new character lines and stake pockets along with a modified '40 Ford tailgate and widened rear fenders. Closing the gap between the box and the handbuilt running boards are custom aprons.
To make the truck as nice inside as out, the upholstery chores were assigned to Gabe Lopez of Gabe's Custom Interiors. And as usual, the workmanship coming out of that shop is second to none. While sitting in the comfy confines of the cab, Joe can listen to the truck's Sony sound system and keep cool thanks to climate control by Old Air Products. During construction, Joe's biggest dilemma was coming up with a color, but judging by the results, the decision to go with PPG's Wineberry is impossible to argue with.
As it often happens, this project was intended to be a mild daily driver, but little by little things kept changing and the truck became more and more refined--a point that was proven when the big Ford was unveiled at the 2006 Grand National Roadster Show and it took first in its class. More important than the hardware it hauled home is the fact that Joe couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. So how happy is he? One of the questions on the tech sheet that feature-car owners fill out is, "What would you do differently if you had it to do over again?" Joe's response was "Nothing!" We wouldn't change a thing either.
The original '39 dashboard has been fitted with Haneline instruments and for a cleaner loo
Under the smoothed hood that now swings on custom hinges is an air conditioning condenser
It's tough to build a street rod that looks good from every angle, particularly something
Hiding under the seat that a Flathead once called home is a fuel-injected LS1 backed by a
We'll bet the guy who drove this COE when it was new would have paid dearly for a seat lik
Simple aftermarket latches hold the modified '40 tailgate closed, and custom cables suppor
...Under the inlaid wood floor is an 18-gallon steel gas tank.
The center of the dashboard features an extension panel to hold the ignition and light swi
Even the taillights on this truck are works of art. Based on custom versions of '36 Ford p
Holding up the rear of the truck are four 16-inch Ultra Wheels wrapped in Mastercraft 235/
|F A C T S & F I G U R E S |
|Joe Gonzalez |
|Long Beach, California |
|1939 Ford COE |
|Frame / Manufacturer||1985 Chevrolet dually |
|Modifications ||shortened by Richard's Wheel & Chassis (Long Beach, CA) |
|Chassis plumbing ||custom stainless steel lines by Richard's Wheel & Chassis |
|Rear suspension ||1985 Chevrolet dually leaf springs w/ overloads removed |
|Rear brakes ||1985 Chevrolet dually drums |
|Front suspension ||1985 Chevrolet dually w/ Bell Tech dropped spindles |
|Front brakes ||1985 Chevrolet dually discs front brakes |
|Master cylinder ||Corvette w/ 9" booster |
|Steering box ||1985 Chevrolet dually |
|Front wheel make, size ||Ultra, 16x6 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Ultra, 16x6 (duals) |
|Front tire make, size ||Mastercraft, 215/60R16 |
|Rear tire make, size||Mastercraft, 235/60R16 |
|Gas tank ||18-gal steel |
|Make ||2003 Chevrolet LS1 |
|Displacement ||5.7L |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||custom 2 1/4" by Jeb Scolman w/ glasspack mufflers |
|Make ||Chevrolet 4L60E |
|Converter ||stock lockup |
|Body style / Material ||COE truck / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Ford Motor Co. |
|Body mods ||side vents filled |
|Pickup bed ||modified 1956 Ford 1-ton longbed |
|Hood ||smoothed w/ custom hinges & gas struts |
|Grille ||stock |
|Bodywork ||Jeb Scolman |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / Wineberry |
|Painter ||Gerardo Hernandez |
|Graphics ||Dennis Ricklifs |
|Headlights / Taillights||1936 Ford passenger car / 1936 Ford stands w/ Pontiac taillights |
|Outside mirror ||Vintique (Orange, CA) |
|Bumpers ||1940 Ford passenger car |
|Dashboard ||modified 1939 Ford COE |
|Insert / Gauges ||Haneline (Morongo Valley, CA) |
|Stereo / Speakers ||Sony / Xplod |
|Air conditioning ||Old Air |
|Wiring||custom by Jeb Scolman |
|Steering wheel||Billet Specialties (Le Grange, IL) |
|Steering column ||Flaming River (Berea, OH) |
|Interior mirror||1936 Ford Oval |
|Seats ||fabricated by Richard's Wheel & Chassis |
|Upholsterer ||Gabe's Interiors (Bloomington, CA) |
|Material / Color ||leather, charcoal gray |
|Carpet ||Mercedes, gray |