My 49 Plymouth coupe build

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Catching up on a few pictures.
These are when I finished the bottom of the driver door and the driver rockers.


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So if you are really looking at the pictures, you are probably noticing some are out of sequence. Some are pretty obviously taken later in the build process then others.
There are a limited number of pictures that have survived this long, add to that that this build actually took place between what I believe could have been as early as March or April or as late as early September of 2011 up through April of 2012, my memory of the exact dates and the order in which things happened may not be as accurate as they would have been back then. The build started off pretty mellow, but intensified very quickly in October 2011 when the blue truck pulling the trailed got totaled. Then we can add that some pictures just make the description more clear.
I'm fessing up now because as we move forward, pictures are few and far between, and being in order is probably going to get worse.

The car was complete enough to be running and moving under its own power and was titles in March, and plated in April. Its first trip was at the Vintage Torque Fest in Dubuque in April 2012.

That is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Once the body was enclosed, the big push was to get the car to move under it own power. While the car sat outside we got a lot of rain. A lot. I had the hood strapped on the car, and it was pretty sealed, so it was no big deal, right? well that was what I thought as well.

The car was getting a bonded title, and one of the requirements of that was for it to be running. Shouldn't be a big deal, it ran 6 months before, and not much other then the outer sheet metal had changed. As soon as I could, I pushed it into the garage and ran the wiring, fuel lines, and installed all new brakes. The next thing was replacing the clutch.

I got the car up on jack stands, got the trans out, the bell off, and started pulling the clutch cover bolts. I put the socket on the 1st cover bolt, and loosened it, then I moved to the second bolt and loosened it, I'm thinking this is going great! Then as I put the socket on the 3rd bolt and loosened it, it occurred to me something wasn't quite right... Usually as you loosen those clutch bolts, you have to chase them around the as the flywheel kept turning, Why wasn't the flywheel turning? Then I put the socket on that 4th bolt, sure enough, the flywheel didn't move at all. Ut OH! Get the breaker bar (its a 3'er) and the 1 1/4" socket and put it on the crankshaft bolt. Won't turn! WTH? Suddenly the clutch doesn't seem very important! I start thinking maybe there is a cylinder that got water in it, so I pulled 1/2 the plugs. Then I could turn it in both directions about a 1/2". I pulled the rest of the plugs. Each time I changed directions, I could move it a bit more. I'm stumped. I kept working it back and forth and finally after about an hour I got it a full reevaluation, but it was still turning very hard, and almost no water came out of any cylinders. Finally I grabbed my oil drain pan and pulled the oil plug. I latterly got almost 4 quarts of pure water out of the oil pan! I put the drain plug back in and dumped the drain pan, then pulled the plug again. I got a bit of water, then I got 2 quarts of white milk, before I finally got a couple quarts of more oil then water, and finally about 2 quarts of pure oil.
Of course I put a few shots of oil down each cylinder and turned the motor by hand. Changed the oil filter and added the fresh oil. Then I changed the clutch. and installed the bell and the trans. I put some more oil down each cylinder and spun the motor over with the starter until I got oil pressure.
After I was able o start the motor some lifters rattled for a few seconds and then it quieted down. it seemed to run normal. The next day I picked up more oil and another filter and changed it again. The oil looked pretty normal. I consulted several engine builders and we all pretty much come to the same conclusion, run it until something happens, then replace it.

So if the hood was on the car, how did the rain get into the motor? Remember that center seam on the hood? It seems that center chrome strip down the center, and those two bolted together 1/2 are not water proof. With the old flathead 6, the motor is centered under the hood centerline, but the carb and air cleaner are about 8" towards the right side. The motor in the coupe is a V6, the throttle body and air filter housing is right under that center hood seem. The top of the lid acts like a funnel and directs the rain water the makes it through the seem to go right into the throttle body and down into the intake.
To say I was a bit unhappy with myself for missing that would be an understatement. I fired up the mig and solved any chance of water ever getting through that center seem again. I started at the front and welded straight to the back. Warped the hood bad, but that sucker won't leak rain water into an engine ever again.

This one picture pretty much tells the story, notice how rusty the air cleaner lid is? Gene


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The ultimate decision on just running the existing motor sort of fit into the plan for the car, remember, it was only going to last a year or so, if the motor lasted that long, all was going to be good.

There were a few things that happened through the process that altered the build process a bit.
I did in fact build a 4 point cage for the car. One day while attaching the lower body to the floor boards, I got in and out of the car several times. The roll bar above the door hung down below the bottom of the door opening about an inch. That one day I banged my head on that bar three different times, just getting in or out of the car's open door. The last time I banged my head pretty hard getting it the car. It took a few minutes of sitting there before the bells to quit ringing. I decided that I really didn't need a roll cage in that car, and out it came. That would require a bit more effort attaching the floor to the lower body, but that was a better option then banging my head on the roll bar every time I got in or out of the car. Had the car been a real race car, the door would have been welded closed, and entry would have been through the door window, and that wasn't going to happen with this car.
With the vent box above the firewall completed, it was a good time to address the fresh air intake, and the cut off recirculation duct work I cut off so the heater box fit in the car.
Pic 1 So this mess is the dash area inside of the coupe. The white painted metal on the right side is the "new" fresh air supply for the heater box. The top section seals against the hole cut through the back wall on the vent box. The lower section seals to the actual heater box. there is a vent door controlled through the heater box that controls the amount of fresh air that can enter the heater. At the very bottom of that white box is a trap door that can be opened that will allow that fresh air to bypass the heater assembly and dump right into the car. The recirculation opening on the heater box also has a duct door that is controlled by the heater assembly. I concluded that it didn't require any additional ducting, it probably wasn't going to get used much, and the area it was located at would be fine as is. The black tube thing laying on the seat is the Dakota Defroster duct work. I was able to use it mostly intact.
Pic 2 shows the white fresh air box better. Its easy to see one of the two screws holding attaching it to the vent box. the green foam box is where the Dakota defrosted duct that was laying on the seat attaches to the heat box.
Pic 3, This is the Dakota instrument cluster hanging in about the position it ended up staying in. The green defrosted duct location is below the instrument cluster. The defrosted duct work fits behind the instrument cluster and the distribution tube part of the defrosted duct would sit above the instrument cluster.
Pic 4 is what the rest of the under dash looked like from the passenger side. The small sheet metal lip just under the windshield rubber would be the attaching point for the new dash cover.
Pic 5 is the under dash from the driver side. I would build a framework from 1/8" x 1" flat bar stock to support the instrument cluster, and the fuse panel. That support piece would attach to the strip under the windshield gasket, extend rearward then bend down, and would also be the bottom support for the dash from one side of the car to the other. Then the entire mess would be covered with a removable sheet metal dash cover.
Pic 6, The cardboard template of the sheet metal dash cover. The section to the left, below the curve would be separate to have access to the fuse panel. The head light switch would be mounted above the removable panel, and that removable panel would extend under the dash. On the right side of the steering column would be the heat control switch and the instrument. A glove box would also be added in front of the passenger seat.
Pic 7 & 8 are a few years later but are the only pictures I have of the dash in its original form. 7Pic 7 is from the passenger side, Pic 8 is from the driver side. Gene


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The next issue that had to be addressed was the door handles and latches.
The driver door latch and handle sort of worked. It open and closed, but sometimes it didn't like to stay latched. There was no way to lock it at all. The passenger side was a different matter. There was no outside handle, no inside handle, and the latch didn't function at all, the door was wired closed from inside the car.
The donor Dakota had really nice latches, and inside and outside handles. An the door locks both worked and they used the column ignition key to make both function. I had no idea if they would fit in the Plymouth doors or not. Time to cut up some doors to find out!
The Dakota has bear claw style latches. The post is mounted on the door frame. The latch assembly mounts in the door with a slot cut into the door frame so the post can enter the bear claw and the bear claw can enclose the post. The latch assembly itself is about 4" high, about 3" wide, and about 3/4" thick. It is attached to the door frame with 3 mounting screws. The latch is activated by a combination of two sets of rods. 1/2 of each set connects to either the outside handle for the latch or the outside door lock, and the other 1/2 of the pairs attach to the inside door latch or the inside door lock. The inside pair of levers are inside the door glass, and the outside levers are on the outside of the door glass. The latch itself sits on both sides of the door glass track system.
The inside door handle and lock can pretty much be anyplace convenient on the inside of the door, the outside handle and lock placement are much more critical. The good thing about this Dakota outside door handle is that the lock assembly is part of the handle and doesn't extend into the door much more then the handle itself does. All I really need to do is keep the latch and the handle location in proper relationship with each other and I won't have to figure out how to make the linkage work.
after dismounting the handle and latch from the Dakota door (you need to remove the door glass and the window track to get the latch assembly out of the Dakota door) it was just a matter of cutting up the Dakota door and keeping the pieces in proper position. I needed to cut two pieces of sheet metal out of the Dakota door. The latch holding part from the rear edge of the door and the inside part with the post opening was the 1st piece. Then I had to cut the outer door skin and the rear end of the door edge was the 2nd piece. The outer part sat above the inner part, and I marked each part with a pair of matching lines and labeling how each piece fit together. I marked the bottom part of the top section and the top part of the bottom section so when removed I could easily line them up in the proper position. Pic 1) These pictures are all of the driver's door. this shows both the inner and the outer held together in what would be their respective positions on the Dakota door as seen from the inside door, the lower piece is the latch holder, the upper piece is the outside door handle locator.
Pic 2 is what the outer piece looks like from the outside of the door, I'm holding it from the bottom.
Pic 3 is what the outside door handle ares on the coupe's driver door looks like. The actual handle has been removed, the round circle is the original door lock, that area will have to be cut out as well, inside the door is a round cylinder that holds the lock cylinder and it will be in the way of the "new" door handle.
Pic 4 is the door latch on the coupe. The round part turns as the door unlatches, but it actually latching (not turning freely) was inconsistent. The passenger side wouldn't latch at all.
5 & 6. Even with the screws removed, the latch wouldn't move. Cutting the latch out of the door proved to be a cut and pry, then cut more and pry until it was finally out.
Pic 7 shows how much had to be removed to get the latch out from the inside edge, and you can also see how much had to be cut from the outside to get the lock cylinder out. The rusty channel running up and down in the picture is the rear door window track. That window track is about 3/4" in from the back edge of the door frame. The latch assemble sits on both sides of that window track.
Pic 8 is a Dakota door latch as it would sit in the door, as seen looking from the inside of the truck.
Pic 9 is the door latch, as it would be seen from inside of the door looking towards the rear of the door. The yellow and white plastic rod holders on the right side of the picture are for the outside handle The yellow is the lock, the white is the latch. These two levers are on the outside of the door glass.

The red and the green plastic rod rod holders are for the inside handle (red) and lock rod (green) and are on the inside of the door glass. the window track would run vertically between the two sets of levers and the latch assembly would rest almost against the track. Gene


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Its pretty easy to see that the holes cut into the door are much larger then the latch and handle pieces will require.
Pic 1 Cardboard pieces made to form the new patches that will be required to fill the unwanted hole spaces. The configuration of the Dakota door latch and handles doesn't match the configuration of the Coupe's door, so new patch pieces was required. I determined that as long as the opening for the outside handle was the correct distance from the edge of the door, and was level, enough material had been removed I could fudge the inside latch position a bit, so the outside handle would be the 1st piece welded in. The "P" looking cardboard was for the outside handle. The "P" is reversed from how it needs to be positioned on the car door.
Pic 2, The "P" in its proper location and position. A good old magic marker line around the outside so I could trim it close to where it needed to be for welding.
Pic 3, I really think at this point that I thought maybe I should cut the actual metal and use it as a final cut line.
Pic 4 is the parts laid out on actual steel.
Pic 5 The outside door patch welded in. At this point I think I figured I should just the part on the car and be done with it. I'll save the extra work of butt welding the patch in on a better ride.
Pic 6, This is the outside patch welded in place, looking from inside of the door.
Once the outside handle was in position and bolted up, it was only a matter of screwing the latch to the inside door patch, and connecting the outside release lever and lock lever on both ends and welding the inside patch in place.
Pic 7 Shows the inside patch welded in.
The inside handle was adapted to connect with what was left of the coupe's inside door release handle set up. It was pretty much a matter of connecting two rods together in the correct position and welding them together. I bought a hand full of old Plymouth inside door handles at a swap meet.. The lock rod simply runs up the inside of the door and the top was zip tied in place so it wouldn't flop around. It pushes down to lock, and lifts up to unlock.
Once the door latch is in position, and functions, I had to add the striker post to the door post. The door latch has its adjustment at the post, so I used a 4" square piece of 18 gauge metal with a 1" hole in the center. The striker post is actually a shouldered bolt with large diameter washers on the end. It passes through the 1" hole sheet metal with a stack of 2 or 3 of the large washers. On the back of the sheet metal is another large washer with a hole the same size as the post diameter, then there is a nut welded to a plate the threads onto the striker post. That nut plate is generally caged in place behind the sheet metal with the hole in it so the nut plate can move and allow the post to move around the entire circle, but can't turn or fall off.
Pic 8, This blurry pic shows sort of what the striker post and nut plate would look like once attached to the sheet metal.
Pic 9, This is the only picture I have of a striker post and sheet metal actually welded in place on the car. It is this car, but a recent picture, and obviously the passenger side. Gene


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Back when they raced these old cars on our local track, the boys did some bumpin & bangin. No proper old coupe would show up at the track with factory bumpers, you needed real bumpers back then!
Pic 1 Shows my just finished front bumper. The rear soon to come at that point rear bumper was being built. That is 1/8" x 4" flat steel with 1/8" top and bottom support and welded on bumper brackets bolted to the front frame rails. In tral life the tubing on the top of the bumper would have been made out of 1 1/2" black pipe. I made mine out of 1 1/2" electrical conduit. I didn't plan on doing much bumpin & bangin on the street.

The Dakota had a functioning windshield wiper system on it, so I figured I might as well use it. Each wiper post bolted to the brackets inside the cowl vent box si it was just a matter of making a sheet metal copy of the Dakota wiper post brackets. I Also made a bracket to hold the wiper motor.

Pic 2 shows what one wiper post bracket looks like. there is another angle and tab like my fingers are holding on the other side of this piece you can't see. Both brackets are the same and they were welded to the back wall of the vent box. The wiper post fits up under these brackets and 3 of those holes in the top surface have screws that hold the post to the bracket.
The bracket for the wiper motor attaches to the front of the vent box floor.

Pic 3 shows the driver side wiper post bracket welded in place. You can also see the motor bolted in place. The wiper linkage would run under the motor angle bracket and attach to the wiper post under the post mounting bracket.
The addition of the wipers made it necessary to make a new cowl vent box cover. In its original configuration, I had the right side wiper near the center of the windshield. I don't have a picture of the cowl cover. When I redid the car in 2018, I relocated the passenger side wiper towards the right side so both wipers were equally spaced, which also required modifying the linkage and adding a pivot to the wiper linkage. I'll cover that later.

Pic 4, New windshield! Because I had to weld a patch into the roof of the car just above the windshield that was 4" wide and 36" long, I decided that rather then dealing with what could well be a questionable rubber gasket fit, I elected to add a 1/2" wide piece of metal all the way around the outer windshield frame, then make a center support that had both glass angles welded together. I made oversized wood windshield templates for each side and had the local glass guy cut new glass and bond it into the car. That windshield and sealed cowl vent box have been leak free since they were installed in 2012.

The other think I don't have pictures of is the hood repair. Both sides of the hood were rotted off and the hood hinge area was rotted away. When I redid the cowl cover to add the wipers, it also necessitated modifying the rear end of the hood. All of that was modified in the 2018 update.

Pictures 5 & 6. This is what the car looked like in 2016 when it got driven to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Pictures 7 & 8 are towards the end of the car in this configuration.
Pic 9 is the primary reason the car was redone in 2018. The sheet metal structure around the rear window was rusty when the car was first built, but it was only suppose to last a couple years. After 7 years and 80,0000 mile on the road, that metal around the rear window started leaking water into the car and I had to either replace the window frame, or we had to junk the car. My wife wanted the car fixed. Gene


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Lets get this updated.
When the car was 1st built, I only expected to drive it for a year or two on nice days, then I fully expected it would probably be junked. With that in mind, there were several things I just didn't worry about. Almost all of the inner body structure was nearly rusted away. That included the inner structure around the rear window. About the only inner structure that remained was the inside part of the window pinch weld that the window rubber gasket was attached to. Beside the simple fact that the glass was starting to separate and you could barely see through the bottom 1/2 of the window, the glass, rubber gasket, and basically just outer sheet metal didn't leak a drop of water when it rained. It was the same deal with the rear quarter windows. The old rubber was about 1/2 gone, the glass around it was foggy, and the outer metal looked like pinhole city, the dumb things just didn't leak water into the car. My thought at the time was it wasn't broken, don't fix it. Since I just knew the car would be gone before it was a couple years old, I just didn't bother.

The car at one time had chrome strips that ran along the beltline. The parts of the strips that were still present were all bent or damaged, the rest were just not there. The missing parts had 1/4" diameter holes where the clips that held the chrome onto the car used to be. I removed the damaged chrome and removed those clips as well.
The hood was a disaster, both sides was missing the bottom inch or so and was also missing the lower lip that sat on the fender tops. Where the hinges used to mount was no longer present, and of course the top was a mess from welding the top seam closed when I was mad about it letting water get into the motor. After all the metal fabrication to the lower body, the door handle area, places the roof was patched, the gas door addition, and the hood and cowl top mess, I spent about a month and a half spreading and sanding body filler. I simply spread filler over the bad places, including the pinhole riddled rear quarter windows and the 1/3" chrome clip holes. I covered all my weld seems. After that month and a half spreading and sanding, I drug out the paint brush and painted the car white, then added the blue.

We ended up taking the car on vacation one year, we went all the way around the outside edge of the State of WI, about 1,200 miles. (Wi is about 20 miles north of us). The car worked great for vacation. We ended up taking it to my wife's Brothers place in CO and then into SD, about 2800 miles. Then we took the car down through KY and TN (about 1600 miles). All of this between 2012 and 2017.
The rear window started leaking, but it wasn't between the rubber and the glass, it was through the metal above the rear window. It started as a small trickle, but by the end of summer it was much worse. Silicone didn't help, I tried.
We had a decision to make, scrap the car, or redo everything that needed to be done. My wife chose to redo the car. She liked being able to take anything she wanted to with us on vacation, that huge truck probably saved the car.

The search for a rear window frame netted us a rear window frame from a 39 Ford with the split back window. A guy on the HAMB board contacted me about the window frame he had. He pulled it years ago when he was going to chop a car. That deal fell through and it had been sitting around his place for years. He was willing to give it to me if I paid for the shipping. New glass and new rubber were both available and were pretty cheap. It cost me $125 to get the rear window frame and 4" of sheet metal around the window frame shipped from MT to IL.
The rear glass in a 48 Plymouth business coupe is a one piece flat glass, set into a rounded roof. There were a series of rolls and dips to get the rounded roof down to the flat glass. The 39 Ford 2 piece rear glass is also set on a rounded body, but the two pieces of glass allow them to sit at different angles. Until the 39 window frame arrived, I had no idea if it would even work.
Pic 1) 48 Plymouth rear window in all its glory.
Pic 2) Ford window frame the day it arrived.
Pic 3) Ford window frame sitting on the Plymouth.
Pic 4) Ford window clamped in place after removing the old Plymouth one.
Pic 5) Welded in place.
Pic 6) The Ford frame laid down great, This shows the difference between the two roof contours after welding it in place. This difference was pretty uniform all the way around.
Pic 7) fill the dip.
Pic 8) almost done.
Pics 9 & 10. This part is done.


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Pic 1) Passenger side rear quarter window pinhole city. The white spots are craters.
Pic 2) Close up of the top corner. Both sides are in about the same shape.
Pic 3) This is the rear 1/2 of that same window.
Pic 4) Cut out the rust!
Pic 5) Make a patch and ready to weld it in.
Pic 6) Remember those 1/4" holes the chrome clips used to fill? Proof they were bondo filled.
Pic 7) Remove bondo, yep real hole! Welding those hole closed in the doors was a pita.
Pic 8) The side of the car with body work going on.
Pic 9) Yes, both sides.


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When I redid the car, I modified the wiper position. Originally, the Dakota wipers have the driver wiper at the center of the driver seating and the passenger side is about the center of the windshield and both wipers stroke in the same direction. With the coupes split windshield, the passenger side wiper had to shift more towards the right, but both wipers still stroked the same direction. This really bugged me, the old cars had the wipers stroke in opposite directions. For this to work with the Dakota wipers I needed to make an idler to reverse the passenger wiper's stroke, and I had to reposition the passenger side wiper towards the right side so the parked wiper could rest at the bottom of the windshield ,facing the driver side. It also meant a different cowl cover. That was OK because I didn't really like the one I had, and the hood hinges sucked. I basically had to reinvent the passenger side wiper post mounting, create a wiper linkage pivot point, fab up new hinge mounting on both the hood and the cowl, and create a new cowl cover and figure out how to mount it and still have it removable. While I was doing all that, I wanted to see if I could help the hood with more support at the rear edge, and see if I could do something with that warped center seem.
Pic 1) Ds wiper motor & wiper post, with the bottom of the hinge.
Pic 2) Ps wiper pivot just to the right of center, and the passenger side post and wiper linkage. The red box is to enclose the side of the vent box. also the passenger side hood hinge is on the left side of the pic.
Pic 3) We are looking at the bottom side of the hood. This is the driver side hinge. you can also see the small angle welded to the back edge of the hood, that angle was to add support.
Pic 4) This is the passenger side hinge and the rear edge hood brace angle.
Pic 5) This is the passenger side of the cowl vent box.In the original carnation, this piece was part of the cowl cover and was removed with the cowl. both ends are now welded to the body.
Pic 6) This is the driver side cowl cover.
Pic 7) This is what the under side of hood with the center seem removed. I was able to remove a lot of the warped center, but not all of it.
Pic 8) Here is the cowl area with the cover on, with the car ready for paint.


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Wrap this deal up.
Pics 1 & 2) White paint.
Pics 3, 4 & 5) Add red.
Pic 6) Back home, still wearing blue wheels.
Pic 7, 8, & 9) White wheels, number, and lettering.
Pic 10) With the 49 Dodge truck and me.


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Thanks guys.
The coupe has been a fun ride.
Every time we are out cruising around and stop for some reason, there is nearly always someone that wants to share a story about a family friend or a family member that raced one of these old coupes at some time.
This old coupe often brings back fond memories of good times for many people.

Old Iron, The choice of the blue and white, or the red and white are actually pretty equally matched.
The blue sure made the car look more authentic, being brushed on and painted over small dents, it was more crude and simple, but the paint quality was pretty low and it was fading and chipping very easily.

The red was a higher quality paint and was sprayed on (over my crappy body work) so its more shinny, and a bit smoother. The door number is actually painted by a retired sign painter, it looks much better then my stick figure number.

MercuryMac Builds are never easy, but this one was much easier then my truck build was. That one was more recent, I have more pictures of it, but it also requires more effort to tell. Maybe some day I'll get enough ambition to do a build on it. Gene
Just found this build thread...I always to know the history on this build...finally all these years later we all know now...

That thing still looks like a cool ride...

Thanks for sharing

Yeah Mike, Gene couldn’t post this on the HAMB, they would have deleted it and ran him off over his engine choice…heck, probably over the whole build. I’ve always enjoyed his posts over there, reading between the lines. Glad he made his way over here![cl[cl
Thanks guys.
When I first started over on the HAMB, the modernized frames were sort of allowed, but the EFI V6 would have been a no-no.

It wasn't very many years after that the frame changes went out of style there, but because I was an accepted guy, and the car looked authentic, they let me slide.

The only reason I was "an accepted guy" there was because my 1st post was to help one of the important guys with a problem they had that I had just solved myself. That 1st post saved me from a lot of crap others had to endure.

At one point I was directed to the Killbillet rat rod site and joined there. I did a build thread on my coupe there, then followed that up with a 39 Dodge pick up on a Dakota chassis build, then the rebuild of the coupe, then my 49 pickup build.

It was there I met, Couper with the 41 Dodge pick up, we had great discussions about my 39 build. and when Killbillet closed shop, he got me over here. I lost nearly all the pictures of my 39 build in a computer crash, only have a couple of the finished pictures that survived. I'll post most what I have of it.

The truck is no longer here. After it was built I discovered I didn't fit in it very well. I did manage to get most of the money I spent on it back out of it. Its been sold since I sold it, but its still in the area. The truck was really fun to drive, much like driving a way overpowered go kart. I've heard the guy I sold it to put on 3 sets of rear tires and collected a couple of tickets before he sold it.


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