Shop trucks have always been a part of hot rodding, and a necessary one at that. How else would you haul engines, transmissions, axles, or body parts around? Of late we've seen painted and patina'd trucks increase in popularity, both sign-written and plain, the workhorses of shops, both real and fictitious, but not many as nicely finished as Paul Borrmann's '33 Ford.
While Paul set out to build the '33 because he wanted a shop truck, he doesn't own a hot rod shop. As president of Borrmann Steel in Northern California, the '33 Ford's bed isn't exactly large enough to haul his company's regular stock, but that was no reason not to own a shop truck. Now it just so happens that Paul is good friends with Jimmy White, proprietor of Circle City Hot Rods, down in Southern California, and it was Jimmy he turned to when he wanted the chassis set up.
However, the story of this truck started a year or so before any fabrication started. According to Paul, "It all started when I saw a picture of a chopped truck on the salt. I knew the engine would be a Hemi right away. I just had to convince my friend John LaBelle to sell me the motor he had found in Hawaii that came out of a drag car. It took a while, but I got it! The quick-change was my next problem. After looking everywhere I found an online ad for a complete '32 roadster that stated the quick-change might be available separately. I jumped on that and had my friend Ben Delozier pick it up in Ohio. The front end came from another complete car, this time a '33 sedan that was being parted out. The axle still had nice '60s chrome on it."
With three of the larger components sourced, Paul's 12-month parts search continued. "The body and frame came from a barn in Livermore, though I wouldn't call them a 'barn find', while the bed was in an orchard in Lodi. I had to cut down a big tree that was growing through the middle of it," he says. "I was going to have Circle City Hot Rods build the frame, but a month later my wife said I should just have Jimmy build the car. She got her way!" Jimmy and the Circle City crew started with the ex-hay baler '33 chassis and boxed it, added a tubular centersection and rear crossmember, along with a Model A front crossmember and framehorns, the latter lending an earlier look to the front of the frame, in place of the '33 items that look a little odd on a fenderless car. That hard-to-find Culver City Halibrand quick-change was fitted out with '40 Ford axles and brakes and hung on a pair of parallel leaf springs from Chassis Engineering while the old dropped Ford I-beam was located on a transverse leaf and split 'bones. Jimmy sent the '55 Dodge Red Ram Hemi to his engine builder of choice, Fernando Alonso, in East L.A., before bolting it into the frame paired with a Chrysler A 833 four-speed. The headers were fabbed from '36 driveshaft tubes at CCHR, and a trio of Stromberg 97s rebuilt in-house.
The physical size of the Hemi and the fact that Jimmy didn't want to cut into the stock firewall, necessitated the body be moved rearward a few inches for clearance, but not before it received a 4-inch chop, and patch panels in the cowl and lower rear panel. Paul had already shortened the rear of the pickup bed, but with the cab moved back, the guys at CCHR shortened the front of the bed to realign the tires in the center of the wheelwell reveals on the bedsides. A new, longer, aluminum hood was fabricated in-house, then sent to Eric Vaughn for louvers, and now spans the gap between the cowl and the Vintique grille shell. With all the metal-moving complete, Jeff Myers, of Premier Body and Paint in Arkansas City, Kansas, flew out and prepped and painted the sheetmetal at Circle City.
With a clear period look to the truck, enhanced by the big 'n' little Firestone bias-plies on Ford 16-inch steels, it seemed natural to wire the pickup using cloth-covered wiring, a task ably performed by "skinny" Jeff Coloman. Though it was finished in 2006, Paul still says his most memorable experience was seeing it in the Grand National Roadster Show the following year, though winding it out on the country roads near his home must be a close second, as even with baffles those headers sure let that Hemi sing!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1933 Ford Pickup
With the stock '33 chassis in the frame jig, the CCHR crew removed all the crossmembers, boxed the 'rails, and added a tubular centersection, tubular rear crossmember, and a Model A front crossmember to lower the front of the truck. Model A framehorns were also added to clean up the front end. The dropped Ford axle that Paul supplied was hung on chromed split wishbones and a transverse spring, with '40 Ford brakes fed from a dual master cylinder operated by a TCI pedal assembly. Steering is courtesy of a Vega 'box. Chassis Engineering parallel leaf springs support the rearend, with Pete & Jakes shocks at all four corners.
The 270ci '55 Dodge Hemi was rebuilt by Fernando Alonso using the stock crankshaft, 0.030-over Jahns pistons, and an Isky solid lifter cam. ARP bolts were used throughout, while the 10:1 compression motor wears Dodge iron heads and an Offy 3x2 intlet manifold with three Stromberg 97s. The generator mount was crafted at CCHR, along with the headers, ignition provided by a magneto. A late-'60s Chrysler gave up its four-speed gearbox, with an aluminum flywheel and Mcleod clutch. A Hurst shifter stirs the gears, with a Unitrax driveshaft turning the 3.78:1 gearset currently in the Halibrand quick-change.
Body & Paint
With necessary rust repairs put right and 4 inches whacked from the roof posts, the cab was moved back on the chassis to avoid hacking into the firewall, a similar amount removed from the front of the pickup bed to ensure the rear tires were central in the wheelwell body reveals on the bedsides. Eric Vaughn louvered the CCHR-fabbed aluminum hood, while an Evinrude 20-gallon steel boat gas tank was mounted in the bed behind the cab. Jeff Myers applied the Sikkens Dearborn Blue, a color Paul says is pretty much all he'd change if he did it all again, as it's so hard to keep clean! South Bay Plating in Santa Ana, California, tackled all the chrome work on the truck.
Wheels & Tires
Part of the reason Paul's truck looks so "right" is the wheel and tire selection. While there's a built-in rake to the chassis, it's accentuated by the rubber rake provided by the 7.50-16 rear and 5.00-16 front Firestone bias-ply blackwalls, on 16x5 and 16x4 Ford steels respectively. Trim rings and 'caps provide all the bling a rod like this needs.
The stock steel dash now houses a Stewart Warner insert pirated from a fork lift truck, filled somewhat naturally with S/W Wings gauges, all hooked up using cloth covered wiring. Advance Upholstery in La Habra covered the Glide seat, door and kick panels using black Naugahyde, with matching loop-style carpet on the floor, while the Vega box under the floor knows which way to turns thanks to a LimeWorks column, column drop, and '40 Ford style wheel from the same company.