When designing and building traditional hot rods and customs is not only a passion but also how you also make your living, you can only imagine how intense the creativity cauldron can get. Many builders are fortunate enough to inherit a birthright coming from a family with a rich history steeped in hot rod tradition and culture.
Derrick Pesko, of Meriden, Connecticut, grew up flanked by classic hot rods since his dad always had something brewing in the garage; be it a chopped '50 Ford or an early coupe. When your 5th birthday gift was a go-kart, and you spent all your time with your head buried in little books and model kit boxes, it's easy to figure out where your path will lead.
Starting with a '57 Chevy...
Starting with a '57 Chevy 283ci V-8, Derrick had Bruce Moro, of Allstar Hot Rods, assemble this road burner. Filled with plenty of go-fast goods, including Keith Black pistons and a Summit Racing stick, it gets fed by a pair of Stromberg 94s to help the exhaust sing loud and clear.
Working shoulder to shoulder with his dad in the shop, Derrick's capabilities evolved as he started to gain confidence with each buildup. After graduating from high school, his skills led him to the collision repair world where he put in a number of years while also working nights in the family shop on personal and customer projects. With demand increasing for his custom work, he took the big step and opened Allstar Hot Rods in Berlin, Connecticut, along with good friend Mark Coppola, a decade ago. Together the pair has turned out many notable cars, some of which have even graced the floor at the annual SEMA Show.
Yearning for a small personal filler project to work on after hours, Derrick started looking for an uncompleted roller that would allow him to infuse plenty of his signature style, while not having to start from the ground up. Research led him to the Internet, which is a lot like playing roulette, depending on the honesty of the seller. He found a '28 Ford Tudor sedan in Louisiana that seemed to be a perfect candidate. The pictures looked good, so a deal was made and the car was delivered to his shop. What the seller had represented and what actually rolled out of the trailer left a lot to be desired. Derrick's heart sank when he saw the cobbled mass of mutilated steel that he paid good money for leaving him with only two options: to toss the project or do a full teardown and start fresh.
Never one to let something get the best of him, Derrick took on the challenge to prove he could make something out of the withered Model A. After bracing the body so it wouldn't collapse after it was removed from the chassis, Derrick fully inspected the original Deuce spine. He noted it was cracked in many places, and that the crossmembers and motor mounts had been incorrectly installed. After a complete disassembly, he first repaired all of the cracks, and then followed by boxing the 'rails for additional strength. From there he added a '40 Ford X-member and fresh Model A front and rear crossmembers, while also C-notching the rear, pinching it up front, and tapering it to fit the Model A body perfectly. Wanting to follow a traditional theme he installed a '48 Ford rearend suspended by a Model T rear spring and a pair of Allstar Hot Rods custom fabbed ladder bars, while Wintec Fabrication friction shocks smooth out the bumps. Up front, a Super Bell 4-inch dropped axle combined with a Speedway Motors reversed-eye leaf spring and split '48 Ford 'bones scream nostalgia, especially when combined with '40 Ford spindles and Wintec Fabrication friction shocks. One of the notable features of the completed chassis is how deftly Derrick fabricated the exhaust routing through the rear sides of the rails. To get a killer rake, a set of '35 Ford 16-inch wires were topped with a classic big 'n' little combo of Firestone-Coker all-black rubber to keep the car's nose in the dirt.