United Pacific/ STREETRODDER Road Tour ’32 Ford pickup
This is the 23rd year of the STREETRODDER Road Tour. For 22 of those years, the diverse collection of purpose-built street rods that Road Tour leader Jerry Dixey has driven all over America has included Fords and Chevys in about a 3-to-1 ratio. We have built ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s cars. We’ve built roadsters, coupes, sedans, phaetons, and convertibles. Ever single one of them has been innovative, eye-catchng, roadworthy, and cool. Not one of them has been a closed-cab commercial truck.
That changed in 2018.
From a historical standpoint, our timing was perfect. The year 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the introduction of Ford Motor Company’s Model TT, the first Ford specifically built as a truck. Previous Ford trucks had essentially been converted cars with their rear sheetmetal removed and replaced by wooden wagon beds or aftermarket beds.
Last year also marked the introduction of United Pacific Industries’ (UP) steel ’32 Ford truck body, unveiled at the SEMA Show. UP had introduced its steel ’32 five-window coupe at SEMA in 2014. The coupe has validated the company’s place in the street rod market, and we had confidence that the truck would carry the same quality.
The new ’32 truck body is officially licensed by Ford. David Odegard of UP said that the company spent three years reverse-engineering the body to ensure that it conforms precisely to the originals and that UP parts (available separately) are compatible with factory parts.
One difference is that the UP 18-gauge exterior panels are heavier than the 19-gauge steel used 86 years ago. The inner structure uses 14- and 16-gauge, the same as Ford did.
Choosing the new ’32 Ford pickup to lead the 2018 United Pacific/ STREETRODDER Road Tour Presented by Ford Performance Parts was the easiest part of the project. For the build, STREETRODDER turned again to Hot Rods By Dean (HRBD) in Phoenix. STREETRODDER has worked with Dean Livermore at HRBD on three earlier Road Tour vehicles
(’38 Ford coupe, ’59 Chevy Impala, and ’66 Ford Fairlane). He knows what we like and we like what he builds. We wanted the truck to reflect classic ’60s hot rod style and we needed it to withstand five months of virtually nonstop cross-country cruising. Designer Eric Black created some concept illustrations to get the style just right, and Livermore and the HRBD builders turned it into the real thing.
Like many of the recent Road Tour vehicles, the truck rides on chassis built at Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois. Neal, Phil, and Jeremy Gerber started with a fully boxed repro Deuce frame, reinforced with a Model A–style front crossmember and X-member. Pete and Jakes is a great source for traditional suspension parts and supplied what we needed for our truck. The period frontend includes a drilled, dropped Super Bell I-beam axle, ’37-’41 style spindles, hairpins, tubular shocks, and a monoleaf reversed-eye spring—all chromed to shine like jewels. Flaming River provided the entire steering system from the Vega box and Pitman arm all the way up to the tilt column and Vette steering wheel. Roadster Shop added their Panhard bar to the Pete and Jakes rearend, featuring a polished Winters quick-change, heavy-duty four-bars, and a pair of AFCO adjustable coilover shocks. The whole chassis is a combination of traditional coolness and reliable performance.
UP provided the truck body, doors, fenders, hood, grille, cowl top, and sides with windshield pillars, fenders, firewall, floor, bumpers, LED turn-indicator spreader bar, handles, mirrors, and even the headlights and taillights. Two cowl tops are available with or without a vent; we chose a vent. Bob Drake Reproductions had the vulcanized rubber and steel ’32 running boards we wanted for the truck (smooth steel is also available). Dan Fink Metalworks shipped one of their ’32 Ford grille inserts to
complete the exterior. The fasteners for this project were provided by Automotive Racing Products (ARP).
All of the UP components are offered individually in their catalog. For the most part, HRBD left the sheetmetal just as Ford designed it and UP recreated it. One notable custom modification to the ’32 specs was with the bed. HRBD shortened it 12 inches to even up the dimensions in front of and behind the rear wheels. There is still plenty of room for all of Jerry Dixey’s luggage plus the stainless fuel tank, custom built for the pickup by Rock Valley and equipped with a Holley intake fuel pump. The inside of the bed is protected with bedliner coating from 3M.
One disadvantage of choosing a pickup truck as the Road Tour vehicle is that an open bed doesn’t provide any security or protection from the weather. The easy solution is a bed
cover and we had many to choose from. We really like the retractable tonneau cover from Retrax. We needed our cover modified for the shortened bed and we wanted it to fit over the bedrails. Retrax was able to accommodate us in both cases and is now incorporating that design into their product line. Additional protection comes from the Covercraft Industries custom cover used when the truck is at rest.
When choosing a paint color for an early Ford, it’s hard to beat Washington Blue, or any color in that neighborhood. The PPG Nantucket Blue used by HRBD on the Road Tour truck is a couple of shades lighter and is perfect for the early Ford look we were going for. Also in keeping with retro paint styling the fenders were sprayed black. Someday, when the truck slows down for a few days, some lowkey black pinstriping will be added to the beltline. There isn’t a lot of brightwork on the truck, but the parts and pieces that needed to be chromed were sent to Sherm’s Custom Plating in Sacramento. Perfect chrome is the finishing touch to a project, and we have used Sherm’s for many years.
As with paint choice, wheel and tire selection can be a make-it-orbreak-it decision. In this case they had to be traditional. We knew just where to look: Coker Tire and Wheel Vintiques. Our Firestone Deluxe Champion bias-ply blackwall tires, now manufactured by Coker from Firestones molds, measure 5.60-15 in front and 7.00-16 in the rear. The 15x5 and 16x6 steel wheels are ’40-’48 Ford reproductions from Wheel Vintiques’ Gennie series, powdercoated black and dressed up with trim rings and ’41 Ford–style caps. The retro-style wheels and tires are paired with up-to-date front and rear disc brakes and master cylinder from Wilwood.
STREETRODDER has always promoted the idea of Ford in a Ford and have used the Road Tour cars to drive home the point—filling the engine compartments with a variety of Ford engines from Flatheads to 427 small-blocks, an EcoBoost, and Coyote modular engines. Ford Performance has been a valuable partner, signing on as a presenting sponsor and providing us with engines. The UP ’32 truck is our 13th Ford-powered Ford since we started doing the Road Tour in
1996. This time, the engine is a
Ford Performance Parts 347-inch small-block, which required some modification to the UP firewall to fit.
The 360-horse crate engine is built upon a Boss 302 block, bored 0.030-over, with Ford’s X-Head aluminum cylinder heads. The cylinders are loaded with Mahle forged pistons with I-beam rods connecting them to the Scat forged crank. HRBD topped the Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake with a Holley Terminator Stealth throttle body EFI system and aluminum air cleaner—modern electronic injection with the appearance of a traditional carburetor. The MSD ignition system includes a billet distributor and MSD6 EFI ignition control, with Ford Performance plug wires. Patriot Tri-Y headers draw out the exhaust gases. The serpentine drive system is a Vintage Air Front Runner, which includes the water pump, A/C compressor, and Powermaster alternator. Keeping things cool is not a problem with a U.S. Radiator, shroud, and electric pull fan.
The 4L60E transmission from Hughes Performance was delivered with a Ford small-block compatible bell housing for easy installation and is controlled by a US Shift Quick 4 transmission electronic controller from Baumann Electronic Controls. The custom Dynotech steel driveshaft connects the trans to the Winters Performance rearend. AMSOIL INC. has been a faithful Road Tour sponsor, providing engine oil, transmission fluid, gear oil, brake fluid, coolant, and chassis grease.
HRBD has used Hot Rod Interiors by Glenn on many projects, including previous Road Tour cars. The first step in completing the cab was a complete lining of Dynamat and Dynaliner to insulate against heat, noise, and vibration. Dakota Digital built an elliptical analog instrument cluster, mounted in the UP dash. The subdash was fabricated by HRBD for the Vintage Air vents and HBRD billet V-8 column drop. Power door glass and the windshield wipers from Specialty Power Windows are updated components. The leatherwrapped Classic Lowback seats from Procar by Scat suit the ’60s hot rod style we wanted. Dark gray German weave carpet surrounds the console, fabricated at HRBD to house the head unit for the Custom Autosound stereo, Vintage Air A/C controls, power ports, and the Lokar shifter and boot. Lokar also contributed pedals and throttle linkage. Wiring the truck was easy with a Painless Performance Products kit. Miller Electric supplies the welders and accessories used for building our Road Tour vehicles. The United Pacific/ STREETRODDER Road Tour truck Presented by Ford Performance Parts was delivered to the 2018 Back To The 50’s car show in June (thanks to the services of United Routes Transport), hit the road immediately, and won’t slow down until the end of October. HRBD’s version of UP’s ’32 hauler is a huge success and a fitting way to celebrate 100 years of Ford trucks. Incidentally, 2017 was also the 100th anniversary of the Henry Ford & Son Company Fordson tractor. We could’ve decided to build our first Road Tour tractor—but we didn’t. Jerry Dixey, consider yourself lucky.