When Aaron Blatter set out to build a traditional hot rod he had one rule in mind: It had to be practical. "I wanted to build something that was practical, something I could drive every day but make different in a good way," the 29-year-old achinist from Ashland, Ohio, states. From the subtle details on the exterior of the truck to the unique marine intake he chose, it is apparent he accomplished his goal.
Here's the Bob Drake halogen headlights on a SO-CAL dropped and narrowed headlight bar and
Starting out with a '32 Ford Model B cab that he acquired from a friend, he went to work building his ideal truck. Having never built a hot rod before or done much sheetmetal work, he relied heavily on his machinist background. "I tell all of the young guys who come into work at the machine shop to try to do things themselves, figure out the best way they can do it, and that's the theory I applied to this truck."
Aaron has always felt that he has been his best teacher since his very first hobby project: his parents' old '61 Ford Galaxie. He attacked the Galaxie with all of the vim and vigor of an excited 15-year-old determined to get the old car running. After going through the engine and the brakes and getting the car back on the road he gained confidence that would last for years, well into his most recent project.
Aaron believes the '32 Ford cab could have been a hot rod earlier in its life. Sporting a nice 3-inch chop and 6-inch channel he envisions it on a stock, full-fendered chassis back in the day. Since then he believes it has been through a fire, making the metal a little more difficult to work with. He reversed the channel back to 3 inches and left the chop alone, "I couldn't bring myself to change it; the weld seam was almost invisible." Once he was satisfied with the channel he created a new floor and then went to work on the sheetmetal. He patched the roof, rear of the cab, added a donor visor from another truck, and replaced the doorskins, door bottoms, cab corners, and rear panel with new materials. His machinist skills came into play when he radiused cowl panels to match the reveal in the frame. No detail was overlooked on the cab, including replacing a missing piece of the firewall. "Someone had cut some of the lower section out for engine clearance but kept the piece they removed, so I had to weld it back together to make one firewall again."
Aaron rebuilt his 312 with NOS pistons. The engine was in such good shape it only needed a
Aaron's favorite parts of the truck are all of the subtleties that a person may not notice-one of the major ones being the flush doors. "When I told some guys about wanting to flush fit the doors they tried to steer me away, saying it was way too much work and a hard thing to do. All that did was give me the drive and motivation to do it all myself!" Needless to say, after forming a plan and shutting himself in the garage, flush doors became a reality. After accomplishing that task, he set out to create custom doorjambs out of old Ford valve covers.
The base frame was constructed by Thunder Road Rod and Custom, of Dearborn, Michigan, on Deuce one-piece stamped reproduction '32 'rails that are fully boxed. It is pinched 3/4 inch in the front with a Chassis Engineering X-member, flat front crossmember, and round rear crossmember. The car features custom-made motor mounts, transmission mounts, and shock mounts. It is equipped with a Magnum 5-inch dropped and drilled I-beam front axle with '47 Ford split wishbones.
The custom maple wood bed floor has remote master cylinder reservoirs mounted under alumin
The truck's hot rod stance is accomplished through the combination of a Durant Super Low front spring, Pete & Jakes F-1-style chrome hooded shocks, and Firestone bias-ply Dirt Tracker 5.00x16 tires in the front and complementing 7.50x16 tires in the rear. The brakes are all Ford as well with donations from an '86 Ford van for stock drums and hardware. Making it look old was no challenge, with '39 Lincoln backing plates and Buick finned drums. You'll look long and hard though for the Wilwood remote reservoir under the sly cover of a VW air cleaner mounted in the custom maple bed. The rearend began life as an '86 Ford 9-inch rearend but has been modified with an all-nodular centersection, Detroit Locker, and a cut-down '40 Ford axle end to make it appear as an early Ford rearend. It has a SO-CAL Speed Shop main leaf with reversed eyes.
Aaron modified the Kirky aluminum drag seats. The Hurst speed drilled shifter is paired wi
The sinister black finish by Richie Poland and the owner was completed with Sherwin-Williams Ultra 7000 basecoat/clearcoat in (what else) gloss black. The interior, simple yet elegant, features a modified '33 Ford truck dash with a handmade insert and Auto Meter gauges in Antique Beige. The customized Kirky aluminum drag seats stand out against the flat tan paint of the interior. The truck also features a SO-CAL four-spoke steering wheel with handmade magnesium, fully functioning knock-offs.
Probably the most unique and noticeable feature on Aaron's truck is the lack of carburetors. OK, they're there; you just have to look for them inside the manifold. While he nixed a small-block from the start, he considered a Flathead V-8. Then he came across a marine intake at a Ford swap meet. While he didn't buy that one, it got the machinist wheels in his head turning. A couple years later he would revisit the idea and eventually purchase a '50s marine intake and carburetors on eBay knowing nothing about the setup. "There really aren't many people who know about them (Carter YH sidedrafts) and much like old hot rodders, old boaters are dying off," Aaron laments. After a successful trial on his freshly rebuilt 312ci '57 Y-block he sourced the parts and rebuilt the carburetors. He then hand-fabricated water necks to make the setup work; the system is "super reliable."
But like any good hot rod project, at least one thrash was involved, well two in Aaron's case. The first was to show the car in bare steel at the '06 Detroit Autorama, which he calls his most memorable experience with the truck. The positive feedback he received there kept him excited about the build and how the end result would turn out.
Aaron filled the '33 truck dash with Auto Meter Antique Beige gauges.
The second thrash was a little more personal and involved a fiancée! Five years after beginning the project with a wedding in the near future he told Holly, his then wife to be, a wedding could only happen if they drove the truck on the big day. So the thrash began. In seven short months he built the engine, transmission, and rearend as well as completing the bodywork, paintwork, wiring, and assembly. It literally came right down to the wire, the final week before the wedding when his good friends Henry Richards, of Steadfast Manufacturing, and Patrick Plenge, of Patrick's Rod and Trim, stepped in to help, spending that final week in Aaron's dad's garage. The truck rolled out of the garage the day before the wedding; completing its shakedown run en route to the rehearsal dinner.
Luckily for Aaron (and his bride to be) everything went swimmingly and the wedding went off the next day without a hitch. A year later the truck is still going strong with 6,000 miles on the clock and an award from the '10 Detroit Autorama. He received the Builder's Choice award from Alan Johnson, the builder of the '09 Ridler Award winner. Aaron says, "It's a great feeling when you get someone like that complimenting you!"
While his mind swirls with ideas for the next project, he will continue to drive and enjoy his "practical" truck taking him to and from work each day and hauling those all-important swap meet bargains.
Facts & Figures
1932 Ford Channeled Pickup
||'32 'rails, boxed / Dearborn Deuce
||Fully boxed, bolt-in front bevel hole boxing plates from Iona Hot Rod Shop (Ionia, MI), pinched 3/4 inch in front, Chassis Engineering X-member, flat front crossmember, round rear crossmember, custom-made motor, transmission, and shock mounts
|Rearend / Ratio
||'86 Ford 9" (nodular centersection) 31-spline Ford axles (appear as an earlier Ford rear axle) / 4:10, Detroit Locker
||Owner-fabricated triangulated four-link, '40 Ford split wishbones lower, hand-fabricated upper bars and brackets; SO-CAL Speed Shop (Pomona, CA) reversed eye main leaf; Pete & Jakes (Peculiar, MO) chromed shocks
||'86 Ford van new old stock Ford drums and hardware
||Magnum Axle (Oakhurst, CA) 5-inch drop, drilled, and filled I-beam with split '47 Ford wishbones; Wilson Welding (Flower Mound, TX) '40 Ford spindles Durant super-low springs; Pete & Jakes chromed F-1 shocks; owner-fabricated Panhard bar
||Wilson Welding '39 Lincoln backing plates, Buick aluminum drums
||Wilwood (Camarillo, CA) remote reservoir with a hand-fabricated '40-style pedal assembly
||F-100 side steering box with Flaming River (Berea, OH) universal joints and stock F-100 column drop
|Front/rear wheel make, size
||original '40 Ford steel 16x4
|Front tire make, size
||Firestone bias-ply 5.00-16 Dirt Tracker
|Rear tire make, size
||Firestone bias-ply 7.50-16 Dirt Tracker
||Vintique '32 repro steel car tank, 11 gallons with a modified filler neck
|Special chassis features
||perimeter of the frame by Thunder Road Rod and Custom (Mansfield, OH); centersection, all mounts, suspension, steering, and four-link by Aaron
||'57 Ford Y-block
|Machining / Assembly
||Aaron rebuilt the 312 with NOS pistons
||Walker Radiator (Memphis, TN) four-core radiator with a 4-inch chop, hand-fabricated water necks
||Powermaster Performance (West Chicago, IL) PowerGen
|Valves / Springs
||stock valves with Schieffer springs
|Manifold / Induction
||Marine manifold with Carter YH sidedraft carbs
|Ignition / Wires
||MSD Ignition (El Paso, TX) with MSD wires and Holley (Bowling Green, KY) dual point distributor
||Aaron-fabricated, lake-style headers
||Offenhauser unpolished valve covers, brass air cleaners
||Ford '62 T-10
||Hurst, speed drilled
||rebuilt by Aaron
|Insert / Gauges
||'33 dash modified by the owner and filled with Auto Meter Antique Beige gauges
||SO-CAL Speed Shop four-spoke with handmade magnesium functional knockoffs
||custom wiring by Henry Richards of Steadfast Manufacturing
||modified F-100 with Flaming River universal joints and stock F-100 column drop
||hand-fabricated '40s style
||Kirky alum drag modified by the owner
||Ford '32 pickup cab, Last Refuge Hotrod (Dolores, CA) stock length pickup bed
||Ford Motor Company
||channeled 3", radiused cowl bottoms, custom rear panel with V-8 stamp, flush fit doors front and rear, molded exposed hinges, chopped 3", smoothed-out visor, all-new sheetmetal from belt line down, grafted different visor on from another '32 truck, left bed at stock height, unchanneled to make belt line match, shortened 13", '37 tailgate, hinges, and chains, '37 car taillights, radiused stake pocket bottoms, radiator shell dropped 3" and filled, original firewall dropped 3" and smoothed, custom maple wood bed, remote master cylinder reservoirs mounted under aluminum covers (Volkswagen air cleaners) in bed floor,
||stock shell, filled left at stock length, dropped 3" to match the channel Vintique insert
|Paint / Color
||Sherwin-Williams Ultra 7000 basecoat/clearcoat gloss black
||owner and Richie Poland (Ashland, OH)
||Josh Shaw (Cleves, OH) pinstriped the header panel inside cab
|Headlights / Taillights
||Bob Drake Reproductions (Grants Pass, OR) halogen, SO-CAL Speed Shop dropped and narrowed headlight bar with '37 Ford car taillights