1949 Dodge PilotHouse Ute from Australia.

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Well-known member
Nov 11, 2009
I need somewhere to document the building of my car and you guys seem like a nice bunch of blokes, so this will do. :D

I bought this truck from the second owner. Both owners drove the wheels off it travelling all over Australia, the first carrying beehives, the second carting hay. Somewhere back in the 50's or 60's it had the chassis extended and beefed up to carry more load. It was parked in a shed in 1986, and apart from moving a couple metres down the road into another shed at some stage, sat untill I bought it this year.

This is the shed it was in when I first saw it:


So I bought it and went back home (the truck was about 400km from my home town) and made some plans about how to build it up.

My vehicle building experience is limited to building rock crawling buggies, I have built about 4 of them, and scratch-building linked suspensions for road-going cars. This will be my first build of this nature.

Here is my current buggy that I built last year, Unimog portal axles, rear steer, etc:


The Dodge is built first and foremost as a driver for my girl, so it needed a more modern driveline, more power, better brakes, etc. Seeing as the original chassis was altered beyond belief, I chose to get a donor vehicle for chassis and drivetrain.
I picked up a 1977 Holden HX trayback with LPG (propane) powered 308ci V8, Turbo 400 auto and Salisbury (similar to a 10-bolt) rear end. These cars have leaf sprung rears and a pretty good coil sprung independent front end with disc brakes.

The one I picked up is very simlar to this one, I don't have any photos of mine yet:

The wheels were in motion so I needed to get the truck home. It was literally too big to get up my driveway, so I rented some yard space for a month and set about dismantling the thing to take away what I wanted. The old engine, gearbox and the chassis either side of the modified part were kept by my friend, who found the truck, for another future project.




Took away the front end bodywork first, ran it through a car wash and dropped it off at home.


Free plug for my business in this photo, I am a cabinetmaker by trade:

This was kind of devastating to me, but I cut the chassis behind the cab so we could slide the cab off the back and onto a trailer.



Fridge full of cold beer for the helpers [dr


I can't believe I just cut a 60 year old truck in half for the sake of convenience :confused:

The inside of this truck was disgusting. Next stage in the project was disinfecting it.
When I first pulled what was left of the seat cushion out the floor was piled up with mouse/rat **** and chaff and bits of rope and string made into nests to the top of that seat frame.



Also found 4 of these mummified rats in there, and later on when I cut the bottoms out of the doors to repair the rust there was one inside one of the doors.


I also liberated about 20 live mice. They got to have a nice 400km road trip first at least [cl

I keep getting errors saying I have more than the maximum 5 images in my posts when I only have 3 or 4?
Moving forward, rust cut out of inner fenderwell cab corners, used 2mm plate on the bottom and folded it under the cab mounts, they seemed a bit flimsy in stock form.



Rust repair at rear of cab and channel widened to suit Holden chassis.
I painted this because I won't be able to get to it once the car is assembled if I change my mind. All the other repair work will remain raw. I want a car that looks like it has been used hard every day for 60 years without looking too derelict.

Floor came up OK after 2 solid nights on the wire wheel. If I die of cholera or TB or something shortly it will be caused by the floor of this truck. It was putrid.

I also welded down the battery box lid and inspection openings.
Capped off the fuel tank neck opening and tacked in a couple patches over the cab mounts to stiffen them up while I work on it. At this point in time it looks like I'll be making new mounts on the cab to match the existing ones on the chassis. The rails run more or less directly under the existing cab mounts, which would make for a tall, ugly detail to work with.


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This is where I am up to at this point. Cab has repaired doors hung back on (one still needs a bit of shrinking love), and front end is roughly hung back together to work out all my measurements.
This trolley happened to be the exact same height as my donor chassis, so this is ride height. All the front panel work will have 90mm trimmed off the bottom to match the doors. I'm not going to be putting any running boards/sidesteps back on.




Progress will be a bit slow for a while, have a few xmas commitments and what not. I have just gone through all the registration debacle with the donor Holden and it is now registered in my name, legal and roadworthy. This is important with our registration system as the 1949 Dodge will be registered as a 1977 Holden with a body swap as an approved modification.
So now that I have gone through the expense of making it roadworthy I will spend the next couple of weeks stripping it down to chassis/driveline ready to drop the Dodge onto it.

I was once getting a bit depressed about how long one of my buggies was taking to build. It had a few really intricate details that were just eating up the hours, then this old mate of mine said to me "It's like eating an elephant, how do you eat an elephant?"

I said "I don"t know, man, what sort of question is that?"

He replied with "There is only one way to do it. One mouthful at a time. And building cars is the same. as long as you take a mouthful every day, get some little task done every day even if it is only taking a measurement or prepping something for welding, it will get done."

I get really pushed for time some weeks and find it really hard to get into these projects so I just wanted that story in this thread to remind myself to keep moving forward. :cool:

Oh yeah, first US citizen to correctly identify the silver car in the background of some of the pics wins, I don't know, maybe a mummified rat? :D
The silver car/ute in the back looks like a Holden Omega, nevr been to Australia but I have seen the road warrior many times.
All the front panel work will have 90mm trimmed off the bottom to match the doors. I'm not going to be putting any running boards/sidesteps back on.

Have you though about fabbing rocker panels and cab corner extensions to bring the bottom of the cab down to fender height instead? It will make the truck look lower.
Have you though about fabbing rocker panels and cab corner extensions to bring the bottom of the cab down to fender height instead? It will make the truck look lower.

I originally planned to make up nice slimline steps for each side, kind of like what is fitted to FJ40 Landcruisers. But the way I am doing it actually lets me mount the body lower and stay above minimum legal height. It will be about 5" off the ground to the bottom of the doors and my new front cut line. We have to maintain 100mm (~4") ground clearance to be legal.
How you going mate?

That is a Ford Falcon Ute, XR8.

Now I want that dead rat!!!!!!!

I'm not going to mail a dead rat, that was a terrible idea. :D
PM me your postal address and I'll send you something vehicle related and uniquely Australian.

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