Skip's 39 Ford PU. How it happened

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Well-known member
Jun 21, 2010
Portland, OR
I've quit this hobby a number of times for various reasons. But like any sickness/addiction, in this case I am happy to report relapses happen. Twenty years ago, I found myself in Portland, OR. Broke, apartment dwelling, but with a great job that I loved. I was making money, and paying off a huge debt load, caused by another run through college, a short-lived marriage & divorce, and saving for a house. Life is grand.

One day I was cruising Craigslist, and found a pair of fat Micky Ts for $100, tubes and all. That is kind of when the plan hatched. Build a cheap hot rod from parts I can score on CL! I then expanded the criteria to CL and the Portland Swap Meet.

I ran into some rat rod guys at the swap meet, and I was hooked. I started a search for an appropriate vehicle. I was looking for something I could go minimalist with. Open wheeled, V8, automatic. Pretty standard basic hot rod. Nothing too outrageous, as I had never built a car from the ground up. Lots of modified cars over the years, and quite a few aborted projects. Life is like that.

Fast forward a couple years.
I finally got a house that I could barely afford. One car garage, and NO SHOP! I spent another year making the house habitable, and having a shop built in the back yard. The biggest thing Portland would let me have, without a variance, was 24x24x10@mid eves.

By this time, parts were stacking up in the garage, but no project yet. Then I saw the CL ad for a 38 Ford PU cab. $400. The guy also had an ad for a set of 38 fenders for another $400. After chatting with him, I bought it all for $500. Now I had to build a full fendered project? I also had to find a lot more 38 Ford PU parts. Is nothing simple? Not when Skip is involved. :D Other body parts trickled in from CL and the swap meets over the next couple years. Hoods, grilles, grille "chin", hood sides that looked like they had been used to get out of a mud hole.

Next came a $200 stripped out 89 S10 short bed, standard cab. Then a low mileage but badly beat up, but great running, 85 Monte Carlo for another $250 came my way. Both were delivered for less than the cost of renting a trailer.

Then another much better cab showed up on CL FOR $500. Grabbed it, too. Finally, I found a 56 Ford PU dash, and a 47 Chevy bed. All the basic parts were in hand.


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I spent many hours photochopping this project while I was collecting parts and deciding how I wanted to run with it. As we all know, this is not the roomiest cab ever created. I thought about Chopping the top, stretching the cab, and a few other cool ideas. Besides fitting the puzzle together with almost no instructions there were other considerations. :D


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Straying from the plan.

There were a couple places where I decided that I should expand my search for parts. Primarily, I went for new parts wherever safety issues were concerned.

  • E-brake cables, and other brake parts.
  • An after-marked double D rod for stretching the steering.
  • A Speedway 20 circuit wiring harness, because I was clueless about wiring when I started this.
  • AN fitting for the fuel cell I ended up using.
I also expanded my search to eBay after I got into trading there. This was likely the most expensive thing I could have done. Way too much cool stuff there. On top of that, I can't pass up a bargain. I have enough headlights, tail lights, gauges, and other cool parts to supply several projects.

Hi, my name is Skip, and I am ... :D
This was my wall paper on my computer at work for a long time. Just to keep me kind of focused on the project.


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OK. We all know this isn't the first time someone put a 30s car on an S10 chassis, so I won't get too deep into that. But here are a few highlights about how I did it, and a few comments on how I would have done it differently if I had known better before it was too far down the road to change things without a lot of work for very little gain.

The general wisdom recommends using a standard cab long bed to get the closest match to the stock wheel base. I wanted a shorter bed anyway, so I hunted for a short bed chassis. After all, I figured I could put the fenders wherever they needed to be on the sides of the bed to fit the wheels.

Once I had a chassis, I put the front fenders and cab together on top of it, and figured out how much I had to cut off of the frame horns to get it all to sit straight. CAUTION: When trimming the front of the frame, be sure to leave the holes to mount the front sway bar if it doesn't already have one. You actually don't need to cut it quite that far back anyway, but that is a bit tricky to sort out at first. I cut off more than I needed to. The last pic would have been enough.

On the back end, I cut off as much of the frame as I could. Right up against the rear spring hanger mounting. That made it possible to make the bed as short as possible without cutting out the middle of the frame.


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I am sorting through and organizing several hundred pictures of this beast, so I can post more pics and fewer words in the coming days.
Staying tuned. (I like the door stretched a couple/few inches, BTW.)

Thank you, Sir.
Due to the way I built this critter, that is one thing I can still do with "relative ease". I might even be brave enough to try it one day. :D

I showed the idea to a lad up in Washington, and he ran with it. 11 inch stretch! I thought it a bit much, but he likes it. No more than 4 to 6 in my way of thinking. I decided not to do it after I gained 6 inches with the Suburban seat.
My almost done just became a re-engineering project. Again. The new direct replacement aluminum 66 Mustang radiator is too fat to fit in my currently assigned space, the intake and lower outlet is blocked by silly things like the alternator and fan belt, and the steering gear box is in the way again. My custom built combination fender/headlight and radiator mount now needs to be redesigned to fit the new radiator. RATS!!!

Anyway, I think there is still enough room up front to fit it all in. There has to be! Either that, or the engine has to move back a couple inches. There is room for that (likely 4 to 6 inches), but it will require a shorter drive shaft. The original shaft has less than 2 inches of slip space at the yoke. That is enough, but I don't trust going any tighter.

I like the fabrication stuff, but I wasn't planning on doing it again for this build.

My electric fan wiring kit just got here. Yea!

This shouldn't be bad. I pulled the grille and stuff out last night. Time to break out the tape measure, cutoff wheels, and welder. :D

I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve if needed. Grille extension??? :eek: Alternate alternator mounting location? Other fun stuff.


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Just picked up on this one so I'm trying to get up to speed....[S
I don't want to be a know it all, but you're going the hard road making a rad with Ford inlet/outlet positioning work with a Chev engine. Put it back on Craigslist and get one for a 32 Ford with Chev outlets - nice and narrow, I used a cheapie one for my 36 Packard bought on Ebay and it worked perfect.
I like the cab stretch done through longer doors, extending the rear of the cab behind the doors looks off to me. The 40 headlights look good but I prefer the full size grille somehow, not cut off at the top. These are just my opinions, not the gospel.
On my 34 Caddy, I used a G body front clip, similar to the S10 and found the steering box had to go, adapted a Ford Explorer rack, Astro Van sway bar. It worked out good in the end, but definitely the hard way with a ton of modifications, fabricating and hair loss.....

Staying tuned....[P[P


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Skip, I fully understand about all the bumps in the road called life,
but if we want something bad enough we find a way or at least
keep trying......stay at it Skip we'll be following along...[P[P
Thanks guys! I never thought having my own build thread would be this much fun. :D I appreciate all the support and compliments. :D:D

I have always been a story teller. Some people think I talk to much. Glad you enjoyed it. I sure did.

Funny you should say that. I have two of the radiators that you suggest. I bought them on eBay a couple months ago for future projects. Couldn't pass up the deal. I will pull one out of the rafters and test fit it before going any further with this one. Different mounting brackets will be in order, but that is not a problem. I have to do that anyway. It will look better, too.

The original radiator was from a Mustang, with the lower outlet on the left! I had some interesting hose routing challenges, but it worked. The new one at least has the outlet on the right, but it would be easier if it was out at the end of the tank.

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