When we first spotted Russ Eggleston's far-out Dodge pickup at the Goodguys show in Des Moines, we thought, "Cool, someone resurrected an old '60s show rod!" Wrong. Turns out Russ had just put the finishing touches on his wild rig a few short hours before coming to the event. That was merely the first of many cool facts we learned about this slick pick-'em-up.
Cool fact number two: It's not really a pickup. It didn't start life as one, anyway. Russ began with a derelict, $100 '28 Dodge four-door sedan body, which he shortened into a pickup cab. The skin on the abbreviated chopped top is from a '61 Jeep, and the bed is hand-built from steel. The grille shell is also handmade, using canted '66 Corvair headlight buckets and an owner-built spider web insert. The web theme carries through to the tailgate insert and front fender supports.
Cool fact number three: That engine is a fake! Oh, it's a real Chrysler Hemi, sure enough, but the big blower and those six Holley 94s actually hide a stock two-barrel carb and intake. In fact, the engine isn't even rebuilt--Russ just yanked it out of its donor vehicle, cleaned it, tuned it, and chrome-plated the bejesus out of it! It still runs like a top.
Cool fact number four: Virtually everything was built or assembled by Russ. This includes the frame, which is made from 2x3-inch square tubing left over from previous projects. Ditto for the steering column, which connects to a '47 Ford steering box. The balance of the chassis--tube axle, hairpins, '57 Chevy rearend, etc.--is made up of mostly swap meet parts. It all rolls on Cragar SS wheels wrapped in Coker wide whites and M/T whitewall slicks.
Cool fact number five: It represents budget rodding at its best. Since Russ did almost every bit of the work himself, he could still afford luxuries like DuPont PT Cruiser Aztec Gold paint and Jim Stanley-stitched vinyl on the bench seat (door panels are forthcoming). Russ tells us he has less than $7,000 invested in the entire project. A good chunk of that is probably tied up in chrome plating.
Cool fact number six: The pickup serves as a tribute to the memory of Russ's father, Danny. "I was born into a hot rod family," Russ says. "My dad was the most talented man I know and showed my brother and me everything we know. When he passed away, I decided to build a rod in his memory. He was pure nostalgia."
The list goes on, but you get the picture. Even if you don't particularly dig the show rod vibe, you simply can't ignore the creativity and originality this crazy custom rod represents. It makes a big impact without a big budget. It's as driveable as it is outrageous. In short, it's just the sort of shake-up the vanilla rodding world needs. Cool.
'28 Dodge Pickup
DRIVETRAIN: "That thing got a Hemi?" You bet it does! And believe it or not, the '54-vintage, 331ci Hemi is bone stock--Russ hasn't even had it apart. The 4-71 blower and sextet of Holleys actually cover a stock two-barrel carb and intake. Tricky, huh? Russ used exhaust tips for the carb stacks, built his own headers, and ladled on liberal doses of chrome. A '55 DeSoto two-speed automatic--controlled by a modified '67 Jaguar shifter--backs up the big brute.
CHASSIS: Russ whipped together a frame of his own design using some spare 2x3-inch square tubing he had sitting around. It's got a 10-inch kickup in back and boat trailer springs supporting the '57 Chevy rearend, with a swap meet tube axle and hairpins up front. There are drum brakes all around, the fronts being Buicks on F-100 backing plates. Other chassis components include a '47 Ford steering box, '65 Ford truck master cylinder, and an owner-built driveshaft.
WHEELS & TIRES: Cragar SS wheels lend perfect '60s flavor, especially with three-bar spinners and bullet centers. The 15x3.5-inch fronts are wrapped in Coker 5.60 whitewalls, while the 15x14-inch rears wear M/T 10.00 whitewall slicks.
BODY & PAINT: Where do we start? Russ dragged home a '28 Dodge four-door sedan body then hacked away everything that didn't look like a pickup cab. He skinned the top with '61 Jeep material and frenched in two horizontal antennas. Russ's friend Steve Childs contributed the sheetmetal that Russ used to craft the custom bed and rear fenders; the front fenders began life as '62 Triumph items. The grille is pure '60s--a spider web insert in a custom-made shell housing canted quad headlights from a '66 Corvair. A matching insert is found on the tailgate, flanked by '58 Chevy taillight housings and Cadillac lenses. Paint is DuPont PT Cruiser Aztec Gold, sprayed by Russ. Dig the devil's tail finishing off the bed.
INTERIOR: You were expecting angel hair, perhaps? Actually, the cabin is pretty sparse in these photos--just a minivan seat covered in white vinyl by Jim Stanley of Red Oak, Iowa. An owner-built steering column hangs from the owner-built dash, which houses a handmade instrument panel with an International speedo and aftermarket accessory gauges. Dan Slaughter did the wiring.