Many projects these days start out, or even stay as, barn finds. While Dave and Patti Hochevar’s ’42 Dodge had been a farmer’s truck all its life, and had been stored indoors for the majority of that time, it wasn’t really a barn “find”, as Dave had known about it literally all his life (his grandfather bought it new in 1942!).
While U.S. civilian car production ceased in 1942 once the United States joined the war effort, much of the rest of the world had been at war since 1939, and it’s rare to find a non-military ’42 truck, especially a 1-ton version. Yes, this pickup started life as a 1-ton truck, and Dave surmises that his grandfather was only able to purchase it because he was a farmer. There were 850 such DD-series Dodges manufactured in 1942, the vast majority destined for army use overseas, all of them righthand drive, except for those retained for the domestic market. Those with the steering on the “wrong” side were destined for Ceylon, Mombasa, and South Africa, or England, where they were used for bomb damage clearance in London.
The DD designation is a Canadian version, which is where Dave lives, with the U.S.-built truck carrying the WD20 or WD21 names. The DD2 was originally based on the ’40 U.S. DeSoto truck, however, enough of the history lesson. Dave’s pickup is clearly not a 1-ton truck any longer, nor is it used for bomb clearance!
The truck passed into Dave’s ownership some 30 years ago, and with the kids gone he felt it was time to fix it up and take up the hot rod hobby with his wife. A few years were spent planning and coming up with ideas before they took the plunge, the actual build only taking a year and a half to complete. Now, a 1-ton truck chassis wasn’t going to cut it under a regular size pickup, with Dave’s solution undoubtedly a contributing factor to the speedy build time. This Dodge now sits on an S-10 frame. Sure, the stock body mounts were cut off and some modifications made, but it’s essentially stock, right down to the independent front suspension, parallel leaf sprung rearend, brakes, antiroll bar, and master cylinder! Now we’ve seen some cars and trucks built on S-10 frames and a fair percentage of them just didn’t work, but this Dodge proves it can, and does, as the Hochevars cruise it around the countryside every chance they get. It has taken a few trophies too, namely the Canadian Country Award at the NSRA show in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2007, and the Designer’s Pick at Syracuse, New York, in 2011, where we caught up with the Hochevars and their Dodge. For a pickup that’s been finished for some seven years, even it still looks like a fresh build, despite regular use.
It must have taken vision and perseverance to turn a 1-ton truck into a regular pickup, though help along the way came from Ken McLean, who handled the chassis mods and built the one-off pickup bed; Bob Shantz and Lanny Davidson, who tackled the body and paint; and Gabe Gignal, Jack Playne, Andy’s Service Center, and Dave’s son, Matt. Dave takes credit for the design work, some mechanical work, and final assembly. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s rarely any different when building a rod or custom.
It may be hard to see in the interior pictures, but there’s a dime in the center of the steering wheel. With the many panels painted and back in Dave’s garage, as he was fitting the driver door, that dime fell out. He told us, “It amazes me that with all the dismantling, sandblasting, painting, and moving the panels, it was still in there and fell at my feet at the finish.” We’d guess his grandfather was trying to tell him he approved of the truck’s new identity!