At ROD & CUSTOM, we're always particularly impressed by outstanding vehicles built by younger rodders. Angelo Mazzei began the three-year buildup of this '34 Ford pickup at the ripe old age of 18. As a student at California State University at Fresno, Angelo Mazzei found a couple of practical purposes for the '60s-era hauler. The truck served as a project vehicle for Angelo's industrial technology classes. It was also his transportation to and from class every day. In addition to the complete catalog of period parts-including a Corvette mill, Borg-Warner gearbox, five-spoke Ansen mags, and black Naugahyde upholstery-Angelo injected the '34 with a little high-tech. With help from classmate Bruce Cambern, he equipped the pickup with a computerized remote command system. The voice-activated electronics operated such electrical functions as ignition, headlights, turn indicators, and horn. When other students came over to check out the truck, Angelo got a kick out of startling them by firing up the engine or honking the horn from a distance.
What make this young man's project pickup even more impressive are that he did the majority of the engine and chassis work himself, that this was his first attempt at putting together a rod, and that he built it between 1962 and 1965. Over-the-counter parts were not readily available 40 years ago, to say nothing of computer components.
The '34 started getting some attention beyond the Fresno campus, after Angelo entered it in the '66 Oakland Roadster Show and won First Place in the Pickup division. A year later, Bob Wagner shot a photo feature on the pickup for the R&C August '65 issue and Hot Rod Magazine.
Angelo, now in his late 50s and a successful inventor and business owner, has a few more toys in his garage nowadays but still owns the '34. The computerized controls have been removed, but with just a few exceptions, the pickup is identical to the way it originally looked. Two things that impress us now about Angelo's pickup are how ahead of its time it was when it was built and how true to its time it is today.
'34 Ford Pickup
It's more than 40 years since Angelo transplanted the small-block out of a '61 Corvette into the pickup. The 283 cylinders were bored to 292 ci and filled with 10.5:1 forged Tri-Plex pistons, and the engine was blueprinted and balanced. FI heads were polished and ported. Dual AFB 4V carbs feed an Edelbrock intake manifold. The transmission is a close-ratio Borg-Warner four-speed with a heavy-duty clutch and scattershield, operated by a Hurst shifter. The 4.27 gears in the '54 Mercury wagon rearend have been replaced by a 3.78:1 combination.
Things are as impressive underneath as they are up top. Angelo built the custom frame, redesigning and reinforcing the '34 Ford rails to accommodate the small-block, four-speed transmission, and longitudinal rear springs. The '34 frontend includes a custom dropped axle and four-bar setup, plus '54 pickup steering and front spindles from a '54 Merc. Front and rear brakes are Bendix from a '54 Merc. Shocks are Monroes. Antisway bars were homemade.
Wheels & Tires:
Okay, we spotted a change from the pickup's '60s appearance. Back then it rolled along on reversed chromed Lincoln rims and bias-ply whitewalls. These days, it's genuine Ansen mags with spinners. Tires are BFGoodrich Radial T/As measuring P215/70R14 in the front, P255/70R15 in back.
The majority of the bodywork was performed by Tony Gutierrez in Fresno, California, using sheetmetal from three different '34 pickups. Especially eye-catching are the molded radiator shell and louvered hood sides. The taillights came from a '63 Chevy, cut down and frenched in below the tailgate. Angelo built the tubular front bumper.
That's some old paint but looks as good-and as up-to-date-as it would if it had been recently sprayed. Bodyman Tony Gutierrez shot the acrylic lacquer. The color is '64 Cadillac Firemist Green.
The cockpit is vintage '60s styling, from the diamond tuft black Naugahyde upholstery on the door panels and race-style buckets, to the three-spoke Cokico steering wheel. The chrome dash is packed with Stewart-Warner gauges, with a dash-mounted tach above. Check out the chrome swing pedals for the clutch and brake, created by Vic Hubbard.