Interest in the history behind old hot rods, tales of barn finds, and the preservation and restoration of historic rods is undeniably at an all-time high, but a hot rod doesn’t have to have been built 30, 40, 50, or even 60 years ago to have an interesting history. The 1929 Ford Model A pickup you see here was built into a hot rod just 10 years ago, yet was rolled end-over-end and subsequently rebuilt not long after its debut. If that’s not interesting history, we don’t know what is!
Thunder Road Rod & Custom, in Mansfield, Ohio, originally built the truck for longtime rodder Rick Bales of St. Louis, coupling an original cab with Brookville fenders and other sheetmetal. This was all mounted to a Thunder Road–built chassis, which uses a flat front crossmember to get it down low, and a square tube steel structure in the rear rather than the stock bed supports. Up front, a 4.3L Chevy V-6 was installed in front of the stock firewall, allowing the limited legroom in the cab to be uncompromised, and also providing space under the cowl for the air-conditioning unit. The gas tank—located in the rear of the bed, with a filler under the bed cover—and the roll pan were fabricated at Thunder Road, though Bales louvered the latter himself.
Bales supplied the wood for the roof before Dave Cochran at Unlimited Upholstery trimmed the seat, roof, and bed cover. Brian Stitt at BS Creations then painted it semigloss black, and the Thunder Road guys delivered the completed truck to Bales at the Goodguys Indy show. Not six months later, Bales hit a culvert, flipping the pickup end-over-end. The truck suffered a broken axle, bent roof pillars, and other sheetmetal damage, with Bales coming out of it with a cracked collarbone.
Bales’ friend Bob Perreault took on the rebuild, so much so that you’d never know it had been damaged, before it changed hands once again, to current owner Tom Lischke. He took it completely apart, rebuilt the engine, added cruise control, and changed a few details, such as the steering wheel. He also redid the bodywork before Larry Henderson shot it in a custom-mixed high sheen semigloss black again. Tom had previously owned a similar truck, “but not nearly as nice as this one,” he told us, which people kept bugging him to sell. Then he spied this truck for sale. At 6 feet 6 inches, the legroom afforded by having the stock firewall was a major factor in his decision to buy. Weighing just 2,400 pounds, the truck “runs good with the V-6, is fun to drive, and returns 20 mpg when driven at the speed limit”. Six-hour road trips from Ohio to Tennessee to visit his daughter are regular occurrences, and that’s not something you’d want to undertake if the interior were any smaller than it is stock!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1929 Ford Model A Pickup
Thunder Road Rod & Custom fabricated the chassis using tubular crossmembers. A Pete & Jake’s dropped ’n’ drilled I-beam is located on hairpins as is a Durant mono-leaf spring. GM intermediate discs actuated by a Corvette-style dual master cylinder provide stopping power, with a Vega steering box coupled to a Thunder Road–fabbed column, complete with shifter.
The ’89-vintage 4.3L GM V-6 was rebuilt stock by the current owner, complete with a GM throttle body under the custom air cleaner, with a K&N filter. A 700-R4 trans leads us back to a Winters quick-change centersection with early Ford bells, and 9-inch axles and brakes, all hung on Pete & Jake’s ladder bars and a reverse-eye Model T buggy spring.
Wheels & Tires
The truck currently wears 15x4 and 15x8 steelies with ’47 Ford caps, wrapped in Michelin 145/15 and 235/75R15 rubber, though Tom has a couple of other sets of wheels for when he feels like a change, including a set of Halibrands.
Body & Paint
An original Ford cab was coupled with Brookville fenders, bed, hood, and aprons. There’s a stock bumper out front beneath the dropped headlight bar, though ’37 rear lights on custom stands were employed. Larry Henderson shot the custom-mix high sheen satin black.
The cab was treated to spray-on bedliner on the inside, which was then painted over, providing a tough surface on the floor, as well as the rest of the interior. The seat and door panels remain the same black tweed Dave Cochran stitched when the truck was first built. Thunder Road fabricated the steering column and stainless steel column shifter, supported by a ’32-style dash housing Stewart-Warner winged gauges. The turn signal and other switches are hidden under the dash.