What goes around comes around . . . eventually. Many hot rodders are unknowing custodians of a hobby that may, one day, slip into history. (If you think original '34 Ford parts are hard to find now, just wait another 15 years!) Luckily, there are still enough guys out there who are willing to take a beat-up old rust bucket that, for the past 30 years, saw service as a diverter in a water channel on some old farm and be able to, over a period of time, transform it into a cool-looking hot rod.
You never go into it thinking "I'll just put this pile of parts in the corner of my garage for the next decade," but sometimes it just works out that way. Just ask Wes Mallory, from Cynthiana, Kentucky. He and his 12-year-old son, Dean, were looking for a project to work on after finishing up a primered, fenderless Model A Tudor.
They had found out about a rust-free late Model A sedan body in Ohio and, when they went to pick it up, spotted a '32 truck cab hidden in an open shed amidst a bunch of salvaged lumber. When they asked, they were told "If you buy the sedan then you can have the cab for $400." An old metal feed sign had been nailed down over the roof, but it looked to be in decent shape (they believe it might have had a history in South Dakota), so they bought it, too, and hauled it home.
Sometimes simple is the best...
Sometimes simple is the best way to go. A small-block Chevy 355 resides up front, and is connected to a TH350 transmission, which is equipped with a Bradco 2,000 rpm stall converter. The V-8 is topped with Corvette valve covers and an Edelbrock carb and manifold. Keeping it cool is a radiator from U.S. Radiator, and spark is delivered through Taylor wires.
As with most projects when they're fresh and new, Wes and Dean wanted to get going on the new car and they took the cab to a shop to have the roof chopped and filled. The body guy kept the cab for months and, in the meantime, Wes started on another project, so by the time they got the cab back, it was relegated to the corner of the garage, where it sat for the next seven years.
In the fall of 2005, while walking a swap meet in Louisville, Wes spotted a low-slung, hardcore roadster that really impressed him. It had been built by Jason Grimes, a young hot rod builder working in Lebanon Junction, just 30 minutes south of Louisville. After finding Jason, Wes talked to him about working on his truck, and soon the truckload of parts was being delivered to Jason's shop, aptly named The Garage.
The concept was to keep it simple-all they wanted was a fenderless highboy pickup, and they also told Jason the doors on the truck didn't seem to want to close. A few weeks later, after Grimes got the cab set up on a chassis, he told Wes the reason the doors didn't work well was because the guy who had chopped it years ago had tweaked the cab so bad that it would be next to impossible to fix without cutting out the floor. Everyone decided it was for the best and, besides, Wes kind of liked the idea that the truck would now be channeled.
That decided, Grimes went about building a basic hot rod chassis, setting it up on a 103-inch wheelbase using a Brookville Roadsters frame as a base to work from. Grimes C-notched the frame in the rear, and set up the rear end with an eight-inch Ford with 3.55:1 gears and Carrera coilovers while the front used a Pete & Jake's four-inch-drop axle and a POSIES spring. A Vega box controls the steering, and the chassis rolls with '32 Ford 18-inch wheels (the rears were widened two inches) shod in Firestone 4.50/5.50 and 7.50 rubber.
A '32 Ford roadster dash takes...
A '32 Ford roadster dash takes center stage in this production, and is filled with a host of Auto Meter gauges. The tall Gennie shifter plays the part well, and a three-spoke Moon steering wheel operates with an ididit column. Larry Sneed upholstered the truck with red vinyl, covering the custom bench seat and door panels with a simple, wide pleat. Rather than have to vacuum and clean carpet, Wes opted instead for a black rubber mat for flooring.
For power, you can't get much more simple than a small-block Chevy, which is what was installed between the framerails. There are some performance items, such as the Edelbrock manifold and carb, the radiator from U.S. Radiator, and the Taylor wires, but with the addition of some early Corvette valve covers, it's basically a small-block Chevy backed to a TH350 trans.
However, when it came to the body, Grimes had some other ideas. After he got the cab to sit right on the chassis, the Model A bed (from Brookville Roadsters) looked disproportionally long, so he shortened it. Wes wanted to keep the fully louvered hood sides but, since the body was channeled, that meant Jason had to modify the bottom edge of the hood sides to get everything to line up correctly. Louvers became a central theme for the hot rod, with Jason then adding them to an extension he'd fab'd for under the bed (just behind the rear fenders) as well as in the hood top, tailgate, and rolled rear pan. Inside the bed, which is finished with an oak and chrome strip combo, is an aluminum gas tank from Moon.
Inside the cab a '32 Ford roadster dash took the place of the original Model A unit, and it was filled with a handful of Auto Meter gauges. A tall shifter from Gennie and a white Moon steering wheel bolted to an ididit column makes up the rest of the control center. And since there are no tell-tale vents cut in the dash, you wouldn't know there is a Vintage Air AC unit hidden from view. With the essentials dialed in, Larry Sneed then came along and made the custom bench seat, which was covered in the same red pleated vinyl that was used on the doorpanels.
When it came time to paint the truck, the original plan had it going to a black primer but, with all of the extra work to give the truck a better appearance, it was decided that Washington Blue-albeit a suede version-was what the truck really needed, plus it would set it apart from any other truck out there. After a few more additions ('34 Ford commercial headlights, '37 Ford taillights, etc.), it was ready to make its debut on the floor of the Detroit Autorama in 2008. It turned out good for Grimes, as his work was not only rewarded with Wes receiving a second place trophy in the Altered Rod Pickup class, but Jason took home the Driven Award, which was sponsored by Lokar and presented by Street Rodder's Editorial Director Brian Brennan.
Now that the truck is back in the hands of its owner, Wes reports that he and his son, who is now off to college, have already racked up a few hundred miles on the truck, and it still leaves them grinning. He says it runs and handles great and, thanks to Jason Grimes, his mismatched collection of junk got a chance to evolve into one unique ride.
A 10-gallon Moon fuel tank...
A 10-gallon Moon fuel tank (with a tri-tip knock-off cap) sits in a shortened bed behind the cab.
The hot rod look comes through...
The hot rod look comes through in the tailgate, which has 30 louvers in the mid section, which echo the louvers in the rear rolled pan.
Jason Grimes fabricated many...
Jason Grimes fabricated many parts for the truck, including the custom mounts for the blue dot '37 Ford taillights. Another set of louvers also run down a bed extension that Jason fab'd.