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.”
Unlike the A pickup project, however, Lucky didn’t have a starting point. “I searched and searched for a decent body to work with. Through mutual acquaintances, I looked at nearly a dozen bodies till I found one I could work with. Same ol’ story, ‘I know a guy who has an old Ford he wants to get rid of.’ Well, this particular one happened to be up in Lake Arrowhead. I called ‘the guy’ and made arrangements to get it. It had just snowed, and the seller was asking if I wanted to wait until the snow melted, which I didn’t—I had a truck to build and just couldn’t wait. So I drive from L.A. up to the mountains—ended up having to dig the truck out of the snow before I could load it up. The whole time I was thinking, ‘this is California … I’m not supposed to be digging in snow!’”
As is often the case, time posed the biggest opposition for Lucky, but that wasn’t his only opponent. “In the middle of the build, I opened a new shop. Before I even had time to unpack, I decided to try and make the Long Beach Motorama. Believing in the show and wanting to support the cause is why I decided to bust my ass to meet the short deadline.
“Once I’d got the truck all together, I stood back and looked at it—it still needed something. So I called my old pal Skratch. After he and the truck had some quality time together, I rolled into the Motorama … late, but we still made it. Finally got set up the next morning and eagerly waited for the show to start. Following the show came awards time—I paid a visit to the ceremony, and as it turned out, we won People’s Choice. What a great feeling to know the public appreciated the ’32. On top of that, I was invited to display the truck inside the Peterson Automotive Museum for Deuce Week. Oh, and let’s not forget the Rod & Custom feature I was offered at the show as well. Truly a great weekend.”
Lucky’s Speed Shop ’32 Pickup
Lucky’s Speed Shop built Dino Ricci’s ’32 closed-cab on a truly traditional platform—that being an aftermarket Deuce chassis. Front suspension consists of a SO-CAL 5-inch dropped axle (with their hidden disc brakes), chromed hairpins, transverse spring, and tube shocks with a Vega cross steer setup. Out back, a ’36 Ford rearend was fitted with a Halibrand quick-change and Lincoln drums prior to being hung with a Model T spring and tube shocks.
What’s a traditional Ford without a traditional Flathead V-8, right? That’s precisely what Lucky’s felt, as they enlisted H&H to handle the complete buildup of the truck’s 8BA. The end result: A fully polished, Navarro-equipped 276ci mill with a 4-inch Merc crank, Winfield 1A cam, and Stromberg 97 two-barrels. Behind that lies a ’90s S-10 five-speed and the aforementioned 3.54-geared banjo rear.
Keeping things traditionally traditional meant wide whites, in this case Firestone Champion bias-plies from Coker Tire. Rolling stock consists of original ’40 Ford 16-inch steel wheels, painted and outfitted with trim rings and ’48 passenger car caps.
After Lucky’s chopped and channeled the cab, shortened and reworked the bed, and performed other subtle modifications, everything was sent off to Norm Taylor/Vintage Metal in Yucaipa, CA, to be dipped in black. To add detail and dimension, Lucky had Skratch lay down accent pinstriping in all the appropriate areas. Once reassembled, the bed was fitted with a new, finely finished wood kit with stainless trim.
Inside the chopped Deuce cab, David Martinez did his thing with the interior, using burgundy-colored leather accented with black wool carpet. The dash panel is borrowed from a ’34 Plymouth (complete with stock, updated gauges) while the steering wheel is reproduction Porsche banjo from Flat 4.