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A rhapsody in blue

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, at 4:21 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at 3:05 p.m.

Modifications to Mike & Glenna Young's 1940 Ford pickup

Cab

Top chopped 4 1/2 inches

Body sectioned 2 1/2 inches & channeled 2 inches

Lengthened 2 1/2 inches in door and cab

Reshaped rear roof section

Back of roof & doors leaned forward 12 degrees

Fabricated rear windows & installed curved glass

Cab side belt line lengthened 9 inches

Reshaped cab belt line under rear window

Drip rail & rear belt line molded together

Bottom of doors shortened and rounded to create molded rockers

Suicided doors & installed bear claw latches

Smooth door jambs

Rear cab flared into bed

Windshield recessed for flush mount

Cowl vent filled

Door handles shaved

Bed

Front of bed shortened 5 inches with additional 3 inches out of top railing to gain

15 degree forward angle

Changed bed rail from 3/4 inches to 2 inches with 45 degree angle to match belt line

Flare front of bed to match cab

Roll pan

Rounded, frenched tag with bead

Rounded front of top rail & bed corners

Stake pockets & center bed supports removed

Three-piece tailgate molded into one panel using original Ford V8 center section

Front & rear of inner bed embossed to match original bed sides

Channeled bed 2 inches

Lengthened bed sides to follow frame rail

Fabricated hinges, latches

Fabricated bed frame

Fabricated floor edge with rounded corners

Rear fenders

Added 12 1/2 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in width, 5 inches in height

Fenders peaked

Hidden mounting structure for fenders & fabricated inner fender panel

Dual frenched ’59 Cadillac tail lights

Lowered fenders 1 inch on bed sides

Wheel openings reshaped

Hood

Pie cut 1 3/4 inches

Pancaked at belt line

Peaked hood & welded together

Reshaped front nose

Lower portion of hood sectioned 3 inches, front pinched & peaked

Panned underneath

Custom made one-off Alumicraft grille

Front fenders

Widened 1 1/2 inches

Reshaped leading edge and added 2 inches to lower portion

Reshaped wheel openings

Rear of fender reshaped to attach to top of running board

Custom fabricated running boards narrowed & smoothed

Reshaped headlights

Custom inner fender braces

Engine compartment

Crate Chevy LS1350 engine

Crate 4L65E transmission

Inner pan added with custom latch, molded to fenders

Underside of hood panned

Molded extension over radiator

Lower section of original hood molded into inner fender panels

36 louvers punched in inner fender panels

Fabricated firewall recessed 4 inches, smoothed and molded into front mounts

Undercarriage

Smoothed & boxes TCI chassis

Chrome front & rear coilover springs, sway bar, 4-link rear suspension,

panhard bar & spindles

Polished Curry positraction differential

Polished calipers

Disc brakes with drilled rotors

Mustang II-style front end, chromed upper and lower tubular A-arms

Power steering rack

Stainless brake lines

Interior

Fabricated floor & tunnel hump

Fabricated ’59 Chevy truck dash

Relocated center gauge cluster

Reshaped dash top, dash sides molded to doors

— Mike Young was looking for something with a few more creature comforts than his beautiful ’29 Ford roadster. Something he and his wife could take on long road trips to street rodding events.

“Glenna’s not really a ‘roadster chick,’” he explained. He described riding in their roadster as similar to riding a Harley Davidson with four wheels.

“I wanted to build a nice driver,” he said.

“I was looking for a ’49 to a ’52 Chevy Fleetline or business coupe, but Chris said, ‘Everybody’s got one of those.’”

Chris is Chris Carlson of Chaotic Customs in Mulvane, who said Young needed to take a look at a 1940 Ford pickup that he had parked beside a barn, waiting for a rebuild.

“I have never been a fan of the ’40 trucks. The top is too tall and the hood looks like it’s always going uphill,” was Young’s initial reaction. He took one look at the proposed project and told Carlson, “You can’t drink this truck pretty.”

Carlson is a persuasive man, though, and eventually, Young signed on. They were sitting at a restaurant in Las Vegas during the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association show a couple of years ago, trying to come up with a plan for the project.

“We originally talked about getting an old trailer and using the truck to tow the ’29,” Young recalled. But one thing led to another and eventually it came down to a question of just how far Young wanted to go with the build.

“When Chris asked Mike if he wanted the underside of the truck shiny, Mike said, `yes,’ and I thought, `Here we go.’ Because I knew Mike would want to go all the way,” said Glenna.

“I had a couple of ideas,” Carlson said. “I worked with Mike on it … I curved the top a little bit and drew it out. Then I broke out the Sawzall.”

Over the next two years, the truck would be totally disassembled and virtually every body panel sliced, diced and ground smooth in an effort to produce a sleeker, more flowing design. Well over 200 modifications were performed (see the complete list online at www.kansas.com. To see photos of the build, go to chaoticustoms.com.

The top was chopped 4 1/2 inches, the doors and rear of the cab each extended 2 1/2 inches, with another 2 1/2 inches removed horizontally from the doors, before the corners were rounded off and they were mounted “suicide-style,” opening from front to rear. The hood was pie-cut and pancaked, with the running boards smoothed and molded into the body.

Mike Ratley of Chaotic Customs performed many of the sheet metal modifications, often forming intricately curved panels with the aid of an old-fashioned English wheel.

A one-of-a-kind Alumicraft grille was fabricated and fitted, with 1939 Ford Standard headlights used in the modified front fenders.

A rolled bed lip was formed to flow into the modified belt line of the truck. The original Ford V-8 script from the tailgate was saved and incorporated into the newly formed tailgate. The bed floor features burled maple, with two of the panels beveled and fitted with actuators to open and reveal hidden mechanical components.

The entire body was channeled 2 inches over the TCI custom chassis, which features a 4-link coil-over-spring suspension in the rear and a Mustang II-style rack-and-pinion coil-over setup up front, giving the truck a low, assertive stance. Noted Tulsa pinstriper Ron Meyers was brought it to liven up the underside of the chassis with his brush.

“Front to back, it still looks like a ’40 Ford. We wanted to improve on what was there,” said Carlson.

That’s not to say there weren’t disagreements along the way. The long, sculptured rear fenders became a point of contention. Mike thought they were just too long — they had been extended by over a foot, with a pair of ’59 Cadillac bullet tail lights frenched into each fender.

“We argued about the fenders for a year. Karma (Chris’ wife and co-owner of Chaotic Customs) and I were arguing to keep them,” said Glenna Young.

“Chris kept saying, ‘Wait till we get paint on them and you will see,’” Mike said. “It wouldn’t be the same truck without those fenders. I was wrong.”

Mechanically, the truck received the full treatment, getting a matte gold-colored LS1 Chevy crate engine bolted to a similarly painted 4L65E automatic overdrive transmission. The power is routed back to a Curry 9-inch rear end with a polished aluminum center section and chromed axle tubes.

A set of vintage-looking Rocket mag wheels mounting Diamond Back radial wide whitewalls completes the rolling stock.

A custom engine cover was fabricated to blend in with the smoother lines of the truck. The Carlsons’ 15-year-old son, Troy, pinstriped the top of that cover and every member of the build team signed the underside.

“There isn’t a more talented crew in this area,” observed Mike Young.

“A build like this definitely takes the whole crew,” said Karma Carlson. “We haven’t had a day off since July.”

Inside, the truck received a heavily modified 1959 Chevy pickup dash, cut to fit and then molded to flow into the door sills. A prototype set of Dakota Digital gauges fills the center V-shaped instrument cluster. A tilt ididit steering column is topped by a Billet Specialties steering wheel. Bair’s Glass in Winfield cut all the glass for the truck, including the V-butted windshield.

A pair of Glide bucket seats were upholstered in-house, covered in rich chocolate brown leather supplied by Townsend Leather of Johnstown, N.Y. The truck has a full complement of driver/passenger features ranging from power steering, brakes, windows to air conditioning and cruise control.

“It drives as nice as our Infiniti,” Mike Young reported.

Finally the entire exterior was saturated in 3 1/2 gallons of a specially created Martin-Senour hue called “Bankrupt Blues” just in time to be featured in the paint company’s booth at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. The truck also was highlighted as part of the NAPA Auto Parts display.

The response was gratifying.

“We were very humbled and pleased by several of the big guys who said we were the top one or two cars there,” said Chris Carlson.

Plans now call for the Youngs to spend a busy 2014 on the road, showing their beautiful blue truck on the International Show Car Association circuit. Only after that will they be able to finally put it on the highway and go cruising in it, which was sort of the original idea all along.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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