April 21, 2012

Double the cruising fun

When it comes to car show weekends, Jerry Alcorn could just flip a coin to decide which of his unusual rides to fire up.

When it comes to car show weekends, Jerry Alcorn could just flip a coin to decide which of his unusual rides to fire up.

Heads and it’s the satin black ’34 Ford pickup with the stretched frame and yellow wire wheels. Tails, it’s the sleek, torpedo-shaped two-toned ’49 Hudson Brougham sedan.

"It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in … and which show I’m going to," he says. "I like to switch them up sometimes."

Alcorn, a former Wellington resident and longtime Boeing employee, moved back to his hometown of Herington in 2005 after he retired. "I started with Hudsons and joined the Hudson club in Wichita before we came back here," he said. He owned a pair of ’47 Hudsons, one of them a pickup, before picking up his current fastback from a friend in El Dorado.

He found the Ford pickup on eBay about a year and a half ago when he was looking for a car to street rod.

"Actually, I wanted a coupe, but I couldn’t find anything close. They were all in Ohio or Illinois, too far to go check out."

Then the ’34 Ford pickup popped up in Wichita, roadworthy and ready to go. "This thing had just over 500 miles on it," he said. The owner and a couple of buddies, all in the aircraft industry, enjoyed building hot rods and selling them and Alcorn was the lucky beneficiary.

The truck rides on a homemade chassis, stretched 6 inches over stock dimensions. It’s outfitted with a triangulated 4-bar rear suspension carrying a Ford Mustang 8.8-inch rear end running 3:07 gears. The front end features a Speedway Motors 4-inch dropped axle and disc brakes.

The front part of the driveline consists of a 350 Chevy crate engine painted black to match the rest of the truck. Block-hugger stainless steel headers and an Edlebrock intake and carb were used and a set of Weiand valve covers enclose the roller rocker arms.

Alcorn selects gears in the Turbo 350 automatic via a Lokar tall shifter.

Among the few additions he’s made to the truck is a custom-crafted Hagan hood, stretched 6 inches to reach between the cowl and the ’32 Ford replica grille shell. Allen Combs Enterprises fabricated the bead-rolled steel bed cover that opens and closes electrically over the all-aluminum cargo bed.

"If you go someplace and the weather gets bad, you have a place to put your luggage out of the rain," Alcorn said.

He also switched to a set of yellow Truespoke wire wheels with button hubcaps and trim rings to get a more vintage look.

The all-steel cab is an original piece without even one patch panel, Alcorn said. Inside, it is finished with Speedway bucket seats and Dolphin gauges in the oval panel in the dashboard.

He says the whole setup is surprisingly roadworthy. "It’s amazing how it steers. It just goes right down the highway. You could almost go to sleep driving it."

For longer road trips, Alcorn and his wife, Donna, may opt for the more spacious Hudson.

Helping things along are a 1977 Dodge Aspen front subframe, complete with torsion bar suspension and a 318 cubic inch Dodge V-8 coupled to a MoPar 904 automatic transmission. The combination also includes an 8-inch Ford Maverick rear end sporting 2.79 gears.

"It’ll go just as fast as you want it to," Alcorn said.

It also stops well, with power disc brakes up front, drums in back. The original Hudson wheels mount a set of 15-inch Diamondback wide whitewall radial tires, finished off with Hudson hubcaps and trim rings.

The Glass and Upholstery Center in El Dorado recreated the button-tufted upholstery in the Hudson’s super-comfortable interior. "They didn’t have much to work with, but they did every bit of that. Those seats are just plush,’ Alcorn said.

The Hudson interior also features a glove box on either end of the dash, along with a chrome tissue holder that serves to hide the modern sound deck. And there’s a knob just above the rear view mirror that can be used to flip the roof-mounted radio antenna down to run along the center bar windshield trim.

Mimicking an original Hudson color scheme, the rare ’49 two-door fastback sedan is painted a Ford truck maroon over a Camaro cream color.

Alcorn, a member of the Herington Throttle Jockeys, enjoys cruising to area car shows. No matter how the coin flip goes, he goes in style.

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