We all have to start somewhere and for Tony Taormina that was when he spotted a 1932 Ford roadster pickup at a car show way back in 2003. One of the most rare body styles Ford offered that year (some production estimates put the number around 600 units), they are seldom found for sale, which is why Tony, who lives in Reno, Nevada, had such a tough time locating one to purchase. He was, however, able to buy the cowl to a Deuce roadster pickup in Oregon, but there was much more to find.

What he especially liked about them was the cool beltline that ran just under the top edge of the cab—a unique and identifying mark. Looking into it a bit more, Tony happened upon the Benson Ford Research Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Benson Ford is part of The Henry Ford, which includes the Henry Ford Museum and other Ford-related attractions, and it also holds historical records (books, photos, catalogs) of the Ford Motor Company. He ordered a set of original drawings from the Center and, during a five-day seminar in 2004 that was offered by metalbender Fay Butler, he was able to create a set of doors for his project using a Yoder powerhammer.

Tony had great fun working with Butler, whom he believes is not only a true craftsman, but an incredibly patient teacher as well! So after Tony had his doors and his cowl, he still needed the cab, so he contacted Butler to see if he was interested in building one for him. Butler agreed, and soon Tony was on his way to having his dream car.

In 2008, Tony saw the Nov. ’08 issue of STREET RODDER that featured Old Speed Hot Rods’ roadster pickup on the cover. Slammed on the ground, it was everything Tony wanted for his ride, too, and he contacted Old Speed to build a chassis. Unfortunately, the company went out of business before finishing the car’s underpinnings, so Tony turned to Dave Davidson, a racing buddy who owns Vintage Hot Rod Design & Fabrication (VHR) in Chico, California. VHR is serious about their lakes racing heritage, and Dave is a member of both El Mirage’s 200 MPH Club and Bonneville’s 300 MPH Club.

After meeting to discuss Tony’s concept for the pickup, the project started with a strong base: with a 0.120-wall 2x4 custom frame designed and built at VHR. Pegged on the ground, the frame accommodates a ’39 Lincoln rearend located with coilovers and long ladder bars as well as a drilled I-beam axle set up with a transverse spring and laid-down shocks (nearly parallel to the ground) that operate via a mini rocker arm assembly. Steering is accomplished with the aid of a Schroeder box whose output shaft pokes out of the side of the cowl. Lincoln brakes are used out back while ’41 Ford drums were used up front. To make it a roller, black 16-inch steelies were shod with Firestone rubber (6.00 and 7.50) and then topped with chrome Ford caps.

There are many unique aspects to this hot rod, but one of the best is the Lincoln V-12 engine located up front. First found in 1936 Lincoln Zephyrs, the ’36-39 V-12s were 267 inches making 110 hp, which gave the car a top speed of around 90 mph—not bad for a big car in 1936 (later years produced a 292 V-12 as well as a 306-incher).

Running the machine shop end of the business for VHR is John Beck, a longtime lakes competitor and record holder in his own right. Beck assembled Tony’s V-12 with oversize (0.030) Egge pistons, a 7.5:1 compression ratio, a custom-ground Isky camshaft, as well as Isky springs and Egge valves. A custom intake for the three Stromberg 97 carbs was made for the motor, and other one-off items were made (such as the fan shroud for the electric fan and the exhaust system) before the S-10 T5 transmission was bolted up.