Back in the '20s, when mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, the tallest (and, at the time, yet unconquered) mountain in the world, he's been credited with replying, "because it's there." But what would you say about someone who spent several months hand-fabricating a Model A truck out of aluminum when you could effectively go out and buy a steel version for a lot less headache? If you happen to know metal master Jimmy Hervatin, the only answer would be, "because he can."
There are a lot of guys in the rodding hobby who can shape metal, and some who are very good, but there are only a few who should be considered masters. Jimmy, who runs Precision Metal Fab & Machine in Warrenton, Missouri, not only scratch-built his entire ride, but then followed it up by painting it and doing the required upholstery as well.
"Emerald Tide" artwork, created...
"Emerald Tide" artwork, created by Keith Weesner, was the inspiration for Jimmy Hervatin to build his truck. For more on Weesner's (slightly risqué) artwork, check out www.keithweesner.com.
Inspiration for the truck came directly from a painting called "Emerald Tide" by lowbrow fine artist Keith Weesner. Weesner's stylistic automotive-themed creations (often accompanied by a voluptuous female) are about as close to what hard-core hot rodders dream about, and Jimmy's interpretation of Weesner's artwork could only be termed "spot-on."
Jimmy's thought on the build was to showcase what he could do and, from the results, it looks like he can do it all. Nearly everything on his '30 pickup is hand built, with only a few exceptions. Jimmy started by building the chassis, which is set up on a 104-inch wheelbase. Widened 3 inches, the frame also features a 10-inch kick in the rear. Speaking of the rear, a Posies spring and reworked '36 trailing arms are used with a Winters quick-change rear (3.20:1) coupled with '46 Ford bells, and John's Industries aluminum 9-inch finned drum brakes as well.
Jimmy's creative hand at work....
Jimmy's creative hand at work. He milled his own air cleaners before having them chromed, and he fabbed the unique double-Y headers before they were chromed outside and ceramic-coated inside. The engine is a 327 topped with three Rochesters, and both the engine block and the Powerglide trans were ground smooth before Jimmy painted them. You can also see some of the 410 stainless steel bullets Jimmy milled for the grille insert.
Jimmy also built a suicide front suspension for his truck (working off a crossmember he made wide enough to accommodate both spring and axle), which is comprised of a Posies spring, a Magnum 5-inch-drop axle, and a pair of drilled and flipped '32 'bones. Braking comes from a pair of SO-CAL '40 Lincoln units with chromed-plated aluminum finned covers, and steering is handled via a reversed Corvair box.
Coker steelies are found on each corner (15x5 and 15x8) and are shod with wide white Firestone 15x6.60 front tires and 15x10 dragster tires out back. All four wheels, painted red, are topped with '55 Lancer 'caps. Everywhere you look on the chassis you can find Jimmy's creative hand in even the smallest parts, as he made his own steering arms and tie rods as well as a stainless steel gas tank (a 7-gallon unit).
A Wise Guys bench seat was...
A Wise Guys bench seat was used as a base, but Jimmy stitched up the white vinyl and added the green piping. The pleated design was used on the door panels and headliner too. Jimmy cut and installed the GM loop carpet (dark green with white binding), and the Brookville dash (a '32 unit made for Model A's) was fitted with an engine-turned SO-CAL insert finished with five Stewart-Warner Wings gauges (a sixth gauge is mounted just above the LimeWorks column and Grant steering wheel).
The general look of the drivetrain is derived from the artwork, too, as a 327 topped by three-twos provides the base. After Jimmy spent 40 hours grinding the block smooth, K&W Auto in Warrenton did the machining and assembly of the V-8, using flat-top pistons (9:1) and a Competition Cams camshaft in the build. Larry Fulton of Automotion Rochester Carburetor Service (Great Falls, MT) dialed in the Rochester carbs, which are found under a trio of chrome-plated air cleaners Jimmy milled on a lathe.
One of the most striking features of the engine is the unique set of double-Y headers, which Jimmy also fabbed before they were chromed outside and ceramic coated inside. A pointless PerTronix ignition system provides the spark with other parts coming from Speedway (fan), Walker (chopped radiator), and Cal Custom (chromed valve covers painted by Jimmy). The Powerglide transmission was also ground smooth before it was painted by the owner, and it connects to a driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline.
But the main attraction of the truck is the hand-formed body (where Jimmy shaped 0.060 aluminum over a steel rollcage that he fabbed), and built into the design is a 4-inch chop 'n' channel job. Safety was also evident in the scratch-built doors as Jimmy incorporated crash bars to work around the Nu-Relics power windows. Though it's Jimmy's business (for small runs and prototyping), the shop is something every fabricator would love to come home to. Every imaginable tool is there (including an Amada Lasmac laser cutter), but it seems much of Jimmy's time was spent with the planishing hammer, Yoder, a CNC turret punch, and his Pullmax. Jimmy also created the shorty box bed (out of steel), and formed stainless steel strips to hold the boxed steel floor section pieces he also created.
Up front a '32 grille shell features an insert filled with 410 stainless steel bullets Jimmy painstakingly machined and assembled and the roof uses a formed aluminum sheet that he covered in white vinyl to give the illusion of a filled top.
Coker wheels (15x5 and 15x8)...
Coker wheels (15x5 and 15x8) are painted red, shod with Firestone wide white rubber (6.70-15 and 15x10 Dragster), and topped with '55 Dodge Lancer 'caps. Jimmy also built the aluminum truck and steel bed himself before painting much of it with DuPont Hot Hues Extreme Green.
With the basics of the truck done, Jimmy took it to a few car shows, including the Goodguys Kansas City meet in 2009, where many folks stopped by to check out the neat-looking engine but walked away without realizing they were standing in front of a hand-formed aluminum truck! Jimmy picked up a Top 100 award from STREET RODDER (we believe it's the first time an "unfinished" vehicle has ever done that) at the event, but at the Hunnert Car Pile-Up show, Jimmy was happy to see Keith Weesner stop by and check out his handiwork. As with any artist, when someone says, "Hey I built a copy of a car from your artwork" they usually don't hit the mark, but Weesner was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy and overall appearance of Jimmy's ride, and he autographed the dash for him.
Though it might have been a shame to cover up the aluminum, Jimmy decided to finish out his truck with paint and upholstery. After blowing the pickup apart, he rolled the parts and pieces into the paint booth and covered most of the body parts with DuPont Hot Hues Extreme Green paint while the chassis, firewall, and bed planks were sprayed in DuPont Snow Storm white.
In this Rick Bales photo from...
In this Rick Bales photo from July 2009, you can see the progress Jimmy made from when he started from scratch on the project in December 2008. For many more photos of the build of this truck, check out www.streetrodderweb.com.
Back for assembly, Jimmy tackled the upholstery by covering the Wise Guys bench seat with a tuck 'n' roll design using white vinyl with green welting, and copied the pattern on the door panels too. A two-piece aluminum headliner was also covered in the pleated vinyl, and '60s-era GM dark green loop carpet (with white binding) gives a vintage feel to the interior. Up on the Brookville dash (a '32 unit made for Model A's) five Stewart-Warner Wing gauges are set into a SO-CAL engine-turned insert (there is also a tachometer just above the column), and a white Grant three-spoke wheel is attached to a LimeWorks column. Unseen items include Lizard Skin insulation and a Painless Performance wiring kit and, and for added safety, Autoloc seat belts were installed. As a finishing touch, the title of the Weesner artwork that inspired Jimmy to build the truck in the first place, "Emerald Tide", was pinstriped on the dash by MK John from Montgomery City, Missouri. (Jimmy was sad about having to cover Keith Weesner's autograph when he painted his truck, but he hopes to have the artist redo the signing the next chance he has to see the pickup). And, if you'd like to see more photos of the build process, check out the link at www.streetrodderweb.com.
Jimmy made both the planks...
Jimmy made both the planks (from boxed steel) and the stainless steel strips used inside the truck box.
Once everything was reassembled and put back in place, Jimmy took the truck to the Goodguys 2010 event in Indy where it won a Goodguys Gazette Pick, and the next month at the Goodguys Columbus Nationals it was awarded a STREET RODDER Top 100 award (be sure to vote for it at www.streetrodderweb.com). By the time the pickup made it to the NSRA's Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, in August the truck had picked up one of the 12 Classic Instruments' Pro's Picks out of a group of 114 cars in contention.
Taillights from a '58 Bel...
Taillights from a '58 Bel Air are fixed in the tailgate.
And rest assured the winning of a few awards hasn't gone to Jimmy's head at all-he's still one of the most approachable and down-to-earth guys you'll ever meet. The same can be said for his wife, Debbie, as she can chat up the car just as well as her husband. And there's the couple's son, Jimmie, who at 10 years old, tells folks his dad "didn't start with a rusty old car-he started with a stack of aluminum sheet!" The trio can be seen around their truck answering questions (asking folks "How many bullets do you think there are in the grille?") and having as much fun as possible at the car shows.
Now that the project is finished, the next question becomes, "What's next?" But even though mountaineer George Mallory never did get to the top of Mt. Everest, his efforts paved the way for others to follow. In much the same way, Jimmy, with his rolling artwork, has deftly enlightened us to another level of rod building that we can all aspire to achieve.
The homebuilt chassis has...
The homebuilt chassis has a 10-inch kick in the rear, and it was painted with DuPont Snow White paint. That's a Winters quick-change (with '46 Ford bells) forward of the Posies spring.
Jimmy fabbed an aluminum panel...
Jimmy fabbed an aluminum panel to fit into an opening he created for roof, then covered it with white vinyl.