Jerry Cornejo’s wife, Teri, had to talk him into buying his 1928 Ford roadster pickup.
“I always liked pickups more than cars,” said Cornejo, who grew up working for his dad, Jess Cornejo, in the demolition, construction, trash-hauling business. He had spotted an Internet listing for the little blue street rod for sale in Indianapolis.
“But he wanted too much for it, so I just sat on it,” Cornejo said. Some time later, Teri spotted a new listing for the pickup online.
“She told me that I’d better buy that truck,” Jerry said.
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He followed her advice and soon the truck was in Wichita.
“That was in 2010. We only showed it a couple of times, at the Cowtown show and the Zoo Father’s Day Show,” Jerry said.
The truck proved popular with fellow enthusiasts, but Cornejo said, “I wasn’t satisfied with that.” He wanted something that really stood out from the crowd.
He had the general idea of what he wanted to do with the truck and when Bart Brown, then of All Angles Body Shop and Restoration, told him the truck could be turned into something really special, a complete makeover began to take shape.
“I was the one that kind of planned it,” Cornejo said. The truck was completely disassembled and a radical body designed for it by Butch Dysart, also of All Angles.
“It was stretched a total of eight inches,” said Dysart. He and his brother, Darren Dysart, spent six months building wooden bucks (3-dimensional patterns) to create the new shape of the body and the tub-style cargo bed. Darren Dysart also crafted the wooden bed floor for the pickup.
Butch Dysart crafted the custom body panels using sheet metal painstakingly contoured by hand on an English wheel.
“The only thing original on it is the cowl panel,” he said.
For good measure, he turned the new doors into “suicide doors,” which open outward from that cowl on hinges mounted at the rear.
The fenders and running boards were widened by several inches to accommodate the massive custom-built Dayton Classic 2 stainless steel wire wheels, 18 inches by 8 inches wide in front, and 20 inches by 12 inches wide in the rear. They mount 235/40/18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires up front, 335/30/20’s in the rear.
Most of the custom body work was done in Dysart’s home garage. The tubbed cargo bed features a slick drop-down tailgate with a hidden inside latch, for a super smooth exterior look. Butch also crafted the only piece of fiberglass on the body, the hood top, which seamlessly joins the ’28 roadster cowl to a modified ’32 Ford grille shell and insert.
Underpinning it all is a Roadster Shop Superide tube chassis fitted with a Heidt’s Mustang II-type front suspension, a custom 9-inch Ford rear end, oversized Wilwood disc brakes and Accuair Stage 2 air ride suspension.
The chassis is color keyed to the exterior and features blinding amounts of chrome and polished stainless steel, all handled by Elite Metal Finishing.
Tucked under that hood is a 302 Ford small block V-8 built by Pedigo Performance, featuring an Inglese fuel injection system that looks for all the world like an old-school Hilborn setup, including eight velocity stacks. It is outfitted with a Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine belt drive system and a Vintage Air mini air conditioning system.
Bill’s American Muffler installed a set of Magnaflow SS mufflers underneath, with exhaust ports expertly fitted into the rear of the running boards. Mark’s Transmission Exchange built a C4 automatic to route power to the rear.
The truck’s existing Glide seat was restyled and covered with buckskin-colored rawhide leather by No Coast Customs. Mesh speaker grilles and nifty storage pouches with leather straps were molded into the the interior and the door panels.
A leather-wrapped Billet Specialties steering wheel was used atop the ididit tilt column. The dashboard is a custom-crafted fiberglass piece painted to exactly duplicate imported burled wood, as is the center console. It is fitted with white-faced Ford logo gauges.
When it came time for paint, the truck was delivered to All Angles, where Bart Brown sprayed a subtle two-tone scheme of House of Kolor Organic Green and Kandy Green paint over the body, bed and fenders. Nadine Ward was brought in to apply pinstriping to everything from the hood to the tailgate and to highlight the smooth body lines with beautiful gold-leaf striping.
“This is his baby,” said Teri Cornejo. “It was a labor of love … two years of hard labor.”
“I was there every day checking on it, showing ’em what I wanted, pushing ’em. It was like a job for me,” grinned Jerry Cornejo, who dedicated the truck to his father, who also loved old cars. “It just turned out so much better than I could have hoped for.”