These days, any pre-war Ford tin is highly cherished hot rod material. No matter if it’s a prized roadster, Fordor sedan, or even a closed-cab pickup—if it’s real steel, it’s the genuine deal. But that hasn’t always been the case, has it?
Back in the day—the very early day, that is—the grassroots racing and timing associations didn’t really acknowledge anything other than a roadster, and thus, the primary street version was just that … a roadster. Thankfully, that was not to be set in stone, and it wasn’t long before the club doors were open to closed cars—at least some of them. Whether it was due to practicality (weight/aerodynamics) or simply just a styling preference, anything other than the coupes and Tudor sedans weren’t really part of the era’s status quo. Again, that would all eventually change with time.
One particular model that took a bit longer to gain acceptance in the beginning was the closed-cab pickup. They may not have been much in the way of race car material, but they surely served their purpose at all the dirt tracks, dragstrips, and on the lakes/salt due to their natural utilitarianism. That workhorse ethic, however strong it remains even to this very day, eventually relaxed, and before you knew it, they too were part of the hot rod “in crowd”.
Despite the Deuce roadster still holding court as hot rodding’s king icon (with the coupe right at its side), the remaining ’32 kin are anything but clown jesters. That’s especially true with the closed-cab pickups, which have also long shed their utilitarian relegation. And we’re not talking “bedless” interpretations, either, as the following candidate from L.A.’s Lucky’s Speed Shop clearly illustrates.
As shop proprietor/builder Lucky Burton recalls, this closed-cab chronicle began to evolve a few years prior—with a Model A pickup no less. “… it all started some three and a half years ago. A friend of mine told me he had a ’30-31 Model A pickup he was considering selling, but I couldn’t afford what he wanted for it. After about six months of mulling it over, I got a call from him saying he’d let it go for cheaper. I bought it.
“I knew what I wanted to do, but I hadn’t seen too many of these trucks around—and the ones I had seen were lowered-to-the-ground rust buckets; didn’t understand that, and I still don’t. I don’t know why anyone would want to drive around in a rusty, junky, undriveable truck with no use for a bed on it. My vision was chopped and channeled, with a shortened bed that was still full depth and useful. In the ’60s, they called these trucks ‘bobbers’. I wanted to build a ‘traditional’ version.”
Having the truck pre-built in his head, not to mention most of the parts already in his shop, Lucky was able to put the Model A on the road in roughly two month’s time. His efforts were justly rewarded with a cover spot on Hot Rod Deluxe, with an accompanying feature declaring his closed-cab the “Perfect Shop Truck”.
As Lucky continues, “Fast forward several months, I decided to sell the truck to fund another project. About that time I got a call from a fellow named Donato “Dino” Ricci asking if my truck was for sale. He’d told me that he picked up a copy of HRD and held it up to his wife—she’d replied by telling him that was exactly what she wanted.”
Unfortunately, Dino and the Model A were not ultimately meant to be; he had business out of town at the time and Lucky had another buyer on the line. Enter the ’32 pickup. “Dino was bummed that the timing didn’t work out, so I asked him if he wanted me to build him a truck just like it. I’d suggested the ’32, as the body was a bit bigger inside and would make a nicer driver. He agreed.”