The Avocado Hauler

Jim Quast
Orange, California
1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup

Like the Hills’ pickup Jim Quast’s truck was also pieced together rather than starting as an actual vehicle, but this one is all repro. However, Jim’s love for roadster pickups goes back further than this truck. Whilst he’s an avid enthusiast, he admits he’s not a builder, and that what he enjoys most is the planning, parts chasing, and watching and helping the builder bring the car to life.

“In 2006 I wanted a Model A roadster pickup and started looking for one. I wasn’t having much luck, but on leaving the L.A. Roadsters Show at Pomona my son spotted one sitting by itself with a For Sale sign. It was a red ’29 with a small-block Chevy and Corvette rear suspension. It looked pretty decent and the price was right so I bought it. Being a Ford guy, the Chevy motor had to go, so I started looking for a shop to do a little work on it. I found that shop in my hometown of Orange, California: Don Lindfors’ Altered Engineering. I met with Lindfors and we clicked pretty well, so I brought it in for a simple engine swap to a Ford and a little clean up. Well, things got pretty out of hand as he started modifying it; I would stop in and Lindfors would say, ‘Jim, I think we should change this, or modify that.’ I’d agree and before we knew it the truck was down to the bare frame. By the time it was all back together a short nine or so months later we entered it in the Grand National Roadster Show where it won its class.

“I enjoyed the truck for a number of years but had the opportunity to purchase a ’32 Ford three-window coupe from Don and ended up using the ’29 as a down payment. Although I love the ’32, and still have it, I really missed the little pickup. Within a very short time I started talking to Don about building another one. We formulated a plan, with the biggest issue being he had closed Altered Engineering and gone to work for PerTronix as the head of Exhaust R&D and no longer had a shop in which to build it. He agreed to do it out of his home hobby shop since it was going to be a down and dirty, primered, crate motor type of truck.

“Well, as we started the build, things got out of hand (déjà vu!). He convinced me for the amount of work we were doing it wouldn’t be that much more to build it right and build it nice. So I thought about it and told him to build it the way he would want it. So my small-block Ford crate motor became a full-race Ford 2300, and the dirt track styling was his idea. The wheels on this truck are from the first red ’29 that Don gave back to me when he put Salt Flats on it after the trade-in. About the only concession he made was putting in the automatic. He really wanted a T5 manual trans, but at my age I’m tired of shifting. After us just kind of playing with it for about a year, Don decided to have another go at the GNRS, but this was in October with the show being at the end of January. So he spent the next four months in the garage every night after work and every weekend thrashing away. He had it ready for Randy at the paint shop at the end of December and it went to upholstery with just two weeks before the show—and he still had plenty to finish after getting it back. The last few bits got finished up as it was going on the trailer to head for the show, where once again I was fortunate enough to come home with a big trophy. This has turned out way beyond my wildest dreams and never would have happened without the big effort from Don, Randy the painter, and Greg Burrows for helping me chase parts and keeping an eye on Don so he kept working!

“We named the truck ‘The Avocado Hauler’ both for the green paint and the fact that Don made me bring him avocados from my tree to bribe him to keep working.”

Chassis

Starting with an aftermarket ‘32 chassis, Don Lindfors pinched it for the ’29 cowl, then stepped and pinched it in the rear for the pickup bed. A Super Bell I-beam was custom drilled and mounted using Brookville hairpins and Panhard bar, and a Posies leaf spring, with ’37-41 Ford-style spindles. Lindfors drilled the ’40 Ford backing plates and used a Ford Maverick master cylinder and Brookville pedal assembly. A Vega steering box also found its way into the mix.

Drivetrain

While Jim originally planned to use a small-block Ford crate motor, it didn’t suit the dirt track theme that developed during the planning stages. What better than a four-banger? (Knowing Lindfors as we do and his penchant for Pinto motors, guess what now sits between the ‘rails?) Bill’s Automotive put together the bottom end of the ’74-vintage, 144ci SOHC four, using 0.030-over JE pistons, and the stock crank. Lindfors took care of the top end, employing an Esslinger Engineering hydraulic cam in a same-make aluminum race head. He also used a very rare TWM intake, with a pair of Weber DCOE 40mm side draft carburetors, the distinctive sound being music to this writer’s English ears! It’s probably no surprise that the ignition and wires are PerTronix products, as is the single header, a modified Patriot lakester item. Lindfors also custom-fabbed all the necessary bracketry, including the engine mounts. A C3 automatic was assembled by Malone’s Transmission in Orange, CA, with a mild shift kit. Out back there’s an 8-inch Ford rearend, with 3:1 gears, hung on ladder bars and aluminum coilovers.

Wheels & Tires

Hot Rod Wires from Roadster Wheel are used, 15x4.5 at the front with 2.5-inch backspacing, and 15x7 at the rear with 3-inch backspacing, all wrapped in Firestone rubber; ribbed tractor tires and grooved dirt trackers front and rear, respectively.

Body & Paint

The Brookville body features a custom recessed firewall, while the ’32 grille shell and Vintique insert were both chopped, as was the windshield. The Brookville bed received a roll pan and airfoil tubing taillight stands (with ’37-style lights by Lindfors) before Randy and R/T’s Custom Paint & Body sprayed the British Racing Green.

Interior

Orange Auto Upholstery custom-made the bench seat before covering it in the finest black “hide of the Naugacow”, according to Lindfors, adding German square-weave green carpet to the floor. The steering column, wheel, and Safety Shifter are all from LimeWorks. With an Odyssey battery under the body, Lindfors wired the truck with custom old-school cloth-covered wiring, using Classic Instruments in the ’32 dash. Swap meet lap belts and seat warmers complete the interior.