Taking on the build of any classic truck is like embarking on a journey. It all starts with a dream and a vision, regardless of whether you are trying to resurrect a barn find or wanting to build something packed with details and custom-fabricated parts. It’s a trip that can have a number of distinct stops as you move forward to completion. For Ed Sears, of Annapolis, Maryland, spending his younger years growing up on a farm gave his a special appreciation for commercial vehicles, especially pickup trucks. At the age of 15 he had also discovered car magazines and became totally consumed by the latest hop-ups blazing across streets all over the country. It was the mid ’50s and it wasn’t long till he built his first Deuce roadster packed with a Corvette V-8 to experience the scene firsthand. Over the years a career in engineering and architecture followed along, with a number of high-level hot rods, however he never forgot his passion for pickup trucks.
Reminiscing back to his youth, it was always haulers of the ’30s and ’40s with their classic designs that he held the most appreciation for. His favorite, however, was the 1941 Ford with its flowing bodylines, obviously the gold standard of trucks to aspire to. Making the decision to take on the build of one, he started a quest to locate a suitable base to start with. It’s amazing how time moves so quickly; two years passed until the right one was discovered by Ray Bartlett, co-owner of The East Coast Hot Rod Garage in Denton who Ed was already working with on another project. While the entire truck had clearly seen better days, the cab was pulled, acid-dipped, and treated to any needed initial metalwork to bring it back to a solid base. Having designed the truck countless times in his mind over the years, Ed laid out plans with Ray to have the team get started on the build, infusing many of the subtle design elements as the project moved forward.
To lay the groundwork a call was made to Pete and Jakes for a custom chassis featuring their exclusive tubular crossmembers. Wanting the truck to handle like a slot car, it was an easy decision to incorporate a Kugel Komponents IRS featuring a Winters quick-change centersection packed with 3.43:1 gears. The fully polished unit features Romic shocks with Eibach springs and stainless control arms. Up front a matching Kugel IFS incorporates their custom-polished stainless upper and lower control arms with matching spindles and Romic shocks with Eibach springs. For plenty of stopping power a Wilwood dual master pushes fluid through NiCopp lines to inboard-mounted Wilwood 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors with four-piston calipers out back and matching 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors with four-piston calipers up front. Bringing it all to the street, nothing says classic vibe better than a set of 15-inch Artillery wheels with caps and rings from The Wheelsmith wearing Coker Classic Nostalgia wide white radials.
There’s nothing quite like the sound of a Flathead Ford V-8. Ed wanted to keep the tradition alive by having H&H Flatheads of La Cresenta, California, build a showstopper packed with performance. A 1953 Ford block was massaged to 284 ci and packed with a speed shop full of go-fast goods, starting with a Scat crank linked to H-beam rods wearing Ross pistons urged by a 3/4 race Winfield cam. Navarro-finned aluminum heads make plenty of power while a matching three-pot intake wears a trio of Stromberg 97-series carbs crowned by air cleaners from OTB Gear. The highly detailed V-8 is awash with plating and polish and features cool bits, including a beehive oil filter and March Performance Style Track pulley system. An MSD ignition lights the fire with spent gases flowing to custom stainless headers with a 2 1/2-inch stainless exhaust and unique mufflers. The goods move through a BorgWarner T5 trans to a custom driveshaft by Inland Empire Driveline.
It takes a very talented team of artisans to weave a level of subtleness into vintage steel to make it look like it came from the factory that way. The East Coast Hot Rod Garage got started with the doors, stretching them 3 inches and covering them with custom skins by Walden Speed Shop. The back of the cab was then stretched an additional 2 1/2 inches and accented by a graduated chop of 2 inches in front to 1 1/2 inches out back. New floors and rockers were then incorporated while outside the fenders were radiused and lipped, with the rears also being bobbed. To gain the right proportions out back a fresh bed from Mac’s Antique Auto Parts was shortened 6 inches in total, while up front a recessed firewall and custom hood hinges were fabbed, along with Ed’s design for a custom split bumper fashioned from a 1932 Ford unit. As the build continued to evolve with the roller now metal finished, Ed made the decision to move forward with hopes of pursuing the Ridler Award at the 2017 Detroit Autorama.
The project then moved onto One-Off Rod & Custom in Middletown, Delaware, where Gary Corkell and his team added even more delicate details. Weaving additional features into a build to grace the floor of the Autorama was not a simple feat; in fact it took over 15,000 hours to reach the goal. They started by installing Ed’s design choice of a 1934 Chevy rear window accented by a very delicate arch adjacent top bed rail to accent the bodylines of the cab. From there they added a graceful bead to the shaved driprail areas, as well as elegant hips to the sides of the tailgate continuing onto custom running boards, spare tire cover, electronic bed floor and hood actuation, and special brackets for the front bumpers. From there Cody Walls of Traditional MetalCraft in Milton was commissioned to pie cut the hood 1 1/2 inches while also sectioning it, re-crowning the front, and creating a custom bead-rolled inner skin. To bring the completed cab, bed, and chassis to the next level took literally thousands of hours to prepare the surfaces, set the gaps, and get ready for a final coating. With everything dialed in Ed selected a classic combination of custom-blended PPG Brown Sugar gloss, which team member Kevin Bluzard laid down with razor-sharp perfection. The fine lines of pinstriping master Jerry Campbell are evident throughout the build as is plenty of chrome brilliance from Advanced Plating.
Infusing a matching dynamic into the business office took an equal amount of attention to detail, starting with a 1946 Ford car dash for plenty of elegance, selected by Ed and filled with a custom insert by One-Off cradling dials from Classic Instruments. The unique Birdseye Maple hydrographic coating to the dash and garnish moldings by Juliano’s Interior Products perfectly accents their banjo-style steering wheel mounted to a LimeWorks column while shifts move through a stick from Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop; cool breezes are by Vintage Air. To instill just the right hint of classic beauty, Brad Wurzbacher and the team at Lucky 7 Rod Shop in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, worked their magic creating the seating and surrounding panels, covering them with yards of soft mahogany-hued leather from Relicate, while accenting the floors with honey brown German square-weave carpeting. A custom wiring harness by One-Off completes the interior. This is truly a memorable truck with an endless stream of subtleness evident everywhere you look, making it a testament to the hard work of all the talented individuals involved in its build.
1941 Ford Pickup Truck
1953 Ford V-8 by H&H Flatheads, Navarro heads, Navarro three-pot manifold, Stromberg 97-series induction, MSD ignition, custom stainless exhaust and mufflers by The East Coast Hot Rod Garage, BorgWarner T5 transmission
Bodywork and Paint
PPG Custom two-toned Brown Sugar by One-Off Rod & Custom
Pete and Jakes frame, Kugel Komponents Winters quick-change, Wilwood 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors with four-piston calipers
Upholstery by Lucky 7 Rod Shop, Classic Instruments gauges with Vintage Air A/C, custom seats in Relicate Leather Mahogany with honey brown German square weave carpet
The Wheelsmith 15×7 Artillery (front), The Wheelsmith 15×9 Artillery (rear); Coker Classic Nostalgia Radial P205/70R15 (front), Coker Classic Nostalgia Radial P235/70R15 (rear)