Building a Memory
A Childhood Memory Put This Model A Pickup in Motion
Gary Alumbaugh’s ’28 Ford pickup
It’s safe to say that the majority of younger guys who are into street rods were likely influenced by their dad, an uncle, or another family member. The rest probably got into the hobby through friends or maybe through the lasting impression of the lead car in a movie or TV show, such a Charger, Mustang, primered ’55 Chevys, yellow coupes, or, of course, black Trans Ams. Gary Alumbaugh falls into our majority group, with credit going to his hot rod father, Gene, for his street rod bent and his willingness to sweat the details on his numerous projects. Gary spent much of his early childhood in the back seat of a ’33 sedan cruising to and hanging out at shows around their Swartz Creek, Michigan, home. He’s even keenly aware of seeing a ’29 Ford pickup at the Indianapolis Goodguys show and digging the tall factory roofline and the swoopy fenders. At that point, he knew he’d have one someday.
Not only does Gary credit his dad, who died in 2010, for his street rodding genes, but he also got lucky in the fact that his father in-law, John Olay, is also a hard-core hot rodder with many builds to his credit. In fact, Gary’s wife, Amy, also spent many years as a child riding around in the back seat of a street rod going to shows, so she understands the hobby and passion for hot rods that Gary possesses.
That Model A pickup left quite an impression on young Gary and even years later he still thought about building his own and how it would come together. Finally, a ’28 cab popped up for sale in his region, and even though he was in the thick of building a two-door ’64 Chevelle wagon, he couldn’t pass it up. After all, it was close; it was a steel ’28 in fair condition. He couldn’t say no to that, now could he?
The plan was to store the cab for a while and finish the wagon, but soon another “too good to pass up” deal on a chassis cropped up locally. But this wasn’t a factory cast-off frame, it was a Brookville Roadster frame from a project that had gone awry. Again, how could Gary pass that up?
“I planned to just set the cab on the chassis and stick it all in storage,” Gary says. “Then all of a sudden I had a set of fenders clamped in place followed by an engine mocked up. It snowballed from there!” At that point, the Chevelle was pushed into the corner and work began in earnest on the pickup.
There was never a plan to chop the top so Gary and his father in-law set about modifying the chassis to get a lower stance. He kicked up the rear section another 2 inches and changed to hairpins in the front for a little extra ground clearance. The front suspension consists of a 4-inch drop Magnum tube axle, a set of Posies’ Super Slide springs and hairpins. In looking under the truck you’ll notice that nothing hangs down or comes into sight, not to
mention everything is powdercoated and complemented with stainless hardware.
If you noticed the lack of a pair of rear cylinders on the engine, it’s due to the fact that a 4.3L V-6 would provide a bit more legroom than a small-block. And with such a light vehicle, Gary figured the six would pack plenty of power. Just to make sure, he and his pal, Patrick Monaghan, swapped in a lumpier Edelbrock cam and roller rockers along with a four-barrel intake and Quick Fuel 450-cfm carb. A set of headers, bullet-style mufflers, and custom dual exhaust actually give the V-6 a solid hot rod tone.
With the chassis and drivetrain coming together, Gary focused on the original Ford cab. He blended in a custom visor formed of steel and crafted a wood roof with a custom birch inset before covering it in black convertible top material. He was able to save all of the wood door pillars and finished them with a cinnamon stain. The bed was smoothed, hinges were moved inside, and brackets stripped, which were all the kind of subtle hot rod touches that Gary knew his dad would approve of.
A lot of work was done to lay the fenders down a bit, including modifying the fender braces and the stainless light bar, which now secures a set of ’34 Ford commercial lamp assemblies. The running board beltline also had to be reworked to meld with the repositioned fenders. The hood is four pieces with deuce hinges and stainless spears on the front and back. With the custom body mods, Gary leaned on his friend Brad Davis of Red’s Bodyworks to
help with the finish work before spraying the Brooklands Green basecoat/clearcoat.
Back in his home garage, the final assembly began. Gary’s hot rodding pal Josh Adams spent a lot of time crunched under the dash to wire the electrical components as Gary crafted all the cab panels of the interior. The kick panels and binding of the German square-weave carpet were handled by his friend
Brian Willingham of BW Upholstery in Phoenix and everything was covered in buck-colored Carrara vinyl with the help of Kim “Bones” Lonesway of Bone-a-Fied Upholstery in nearby Flint.
The ’28 has been on the street for three years now racking up many miles in the summer months as he and Amy attend a number of events across the region. With the help of his friends and direction from his father-in-law, Gary was able to complete the truck in just about a year’s time. The amount of details and handcrafted details that he completed make the truck a genuine, one-of-a-kind build.
The catalyst to build a ’28 pickup was cast simply by a young kid noticing a cool truck at a car show with his dad. Twenty years later, Gary’s cruising a fine little Model A that he built with his own hands, sweating the details in his garage just like his old man did a generation ago.
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