Most farmers might own a pickup truck, but we can bet not a lot of them have one that looks like this one. For Dennis Mariani, a farmer from Winters, California (a mostly agricultural community between Oakland and Sacramento), it's a new experience, too.
You see, he used to own a roadster pickup back in the '50s when he was just a kid. He'd replaced the brakes with hydraulics and added a Flathead but sold the truck when he went to college.
Now 65 years old, he wanted another crack at open-air hot rodding, so he contacted Roy Brizio Street Rods to see what the crew could do for him. Experienced at building many a fine roadster pickup-some of which have been featured on the covers of both The Rodder's Journal as well as STREET RODDER-Brizio laid out a plan to get Dennis what he wanted: a sharp-looking ride with enough horsepower to hold his interest.
The project started with a Brizio chassis, renowned for its ride and reliability along with a tried-and-true design. The front suspension was dialed in with an I-beam axle, a Durant monoleaf spring, and a pair of Pete & Jake's shocks, while the rear centered off a Dutchman quick-change rear (3.78:1) and a pair of Aldan coilover shocks.
Power wise, Dennis turned to Pro Machine's John Beck, who is a record-holding dry lakes racer but makes his living supplying horsepower to those who crave it. He built up a 432 Chevy V-8 with Carrillo rods, a COMP cam, a 4-inch steel crank, and custom J&E pistons. To that, John added a set of Vic Jr. heads and a Barry Grant SixShooter induction system, consisting of three twos. All the power is transferred to a 700-R4 trans, which in turn makes Dennis very happy. The rest of the chassis was completed with a set of 15- and 16-inch Wheel Vintiques wire wheels wrapped in Firestone rubber.
Not so interested in finding nearly 80-year-old metal to massage, Dennis opted to go the "new" route with a Brookville Roadster '31 roadster pickup body. Updating the look by adding an aluminum hood from Jack Hagemann and installing a '32 grille shell and insert from Brookville gave the truck a well-balanced profile.
The chassis and new steel body parts were delivered to Eric Sanderson's place in Anderson, California, where he prepped the pieces before applying the Martin-Senour Black color to everything, except for the firewall, which was painted white. The next stop was upholstery guru Sid Chavers, who has probably stitched up more award-winning interiors than anybody else in the hobby. Sid created a simple pleated design for the bench seat using burgundy-colored leather, then laid out black carpet to complement it.
On to final assembly back at Brizio's, the '32 Ford dash was fitted with an aluminum Knecht dash, which is a resized version (so it easily fits the '32 dash) of what you'd find in an Auburn. Five Auto Meter gauges were then installed, as was a Juliano's steering wheel atop a Mullins steering column. The bed was then filled with five planks of beautiful, lightly stained oak wood, highlighted by chrome strips.
The overall appearance of Dennis' roadster pickup is one of subtle coolness and class-certainly not the crude and cheap farm truck first envisioned by Henry Ford many decades ago. And, after having a dry spell of hot rods for nearly 40 years, we think Dennis definitely came up with a winner with his second-time-around hauler.
Dennis said "driving with...
Dennis said "driving with all that horsepower is great," and we believe him. Built by Performance Machine's John Beck, the 432 Chevy gets up and goes with the help of a steel 4-inch crankshaft, Carrillo rods, custom J&E pistons, and a COMP cam. Up top, Vic Jr. heads are fed by a Barry Grant SixShooter carb setup (three twos) that breathe through a trio of O'Brien Truckers air cleaners. The V-8 mates to a 700-R4 trans.
Sid Chavers worked his magic...
Sid Chavers worked his magic on the bench seat in Dennis' pickup, creating a traditional-looking pleated design using burgundy leather.
A Dutchman quick-change looks...
A Dutchman quick-change looks great under the rear of the truck bed, and is complemented by a pair of Aldan coilover shocks.
A Juliano's steering wheel,...
A Juliano's steering wheel, mounted to a Mullins column, leads the way while a Knecht/Auburn insert holds a quintet of Auto Meter gauges in the '32 dash.
Oak wood and chrome strips...
Oak wood and chrome strips really stand out against the inky black body, and we don't think Dennis has been hauling any engine blocks around back there judging by those straight bed sides!