It's a catchy slogan that DaimlerChrysler (boy, I just can't get used to saying that) has been using to peddle Dodge pickups lately. And yes, the Dodge offerings do seem a little more distinctive than the typical Bow-Ties and Blue Ovals. But c'mon, how "different" can a truck be when it's built on an assembly line with thousands of identical counterparts! If the Dodge boys really wanted to be different, they'd take a cue from Ron Green and his adorable little '33 Dodge pickup. Even in the "me-too" world of street rodding, this clean hauler stands out with distinction.
Of course, standing out was the goal from the get-go for Ron, who already owns a '40 Ford Coupe, '51 F-1, two '34 Plymouths, a handful of vintage Jaguars, and several other rods. "This vehicle is somewhat unique and limited in number," he says. "I always liked the body style."
Indeed, these early Dodge pickups do have style. In fact, the lines of this particular truck had attracted at least one enthusiast before Ron, as it was already hot rodded when he got it. Unfortunately, the quality of construction wasn't quite up to snuff, so the pickup came apart for an 18-month rebuild headed up by the late Tony Bumbar at Custom Auto Restoration Services (C.A.R.S.) in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
The best part of the whole truck was the chassis, which had already been fully boxed and fitted with a Ford 8-inch rearend and a Mustang II IFS. Tony just cleaned up what was there, updated and replaced a few items, and built new engine and transmission mounts. Ron had already decided to give the Dodge a clean, nostalgic look, so he selected wide whitewalls wrapped around painted Stockton steel wheels for rolling stock.
If you're building a nostalgia Mopar, you really only have one engine choice-an early Hemi. Ron chose a '58 Dodge version displacing 315 cubic inches, then had Performance Heads punch it out to 341 inches so that DeSoto pistons would fit. The shop also installed a re-ground camshaft, massaged the heads,and bolted a Street Demon carb to the intake manifold. A Mallory distributor and Sanderson headers took care of the hemi's spark and exhaust, while O'Brien Truckers valve covers and a Moon air cleaner added appropriate nostalgic flair. A Wilcap adapter allowed Ron to put a GM 700-R4 overdrive automatic behind the Hemi.
Ron also entrusted Tony to perform the truck's bodywork, which was mainly a matter of properly re-doing the work that had been poorly done before. Tony fixed the pickup's mangled roof, correctly fit the doors, then smoothed the firewall. The bed was in pretty good shape (Ron doesn't think it's original), but Tony still reworked the header panel to better fit the contour of the cab. He also built a smooth tailgate to finish it off. The fenders, running boards,and grille shell were all replaced with fiberglass reproduction parts from Coach & Chassis Works. After everything was properly massaged and fit, the Dodge was sent to Bob Grossenbacher's shop for final prep and a Vanilla Shake finish. Snake Eyes headlights and Ford Model A taillights were added to keep the road lit and the back end safe, while subtle licks by Jake's Pinstriping added the perfect finishing accents.
There's not much room inside a '30s era pickup cab, but Ron made the most of this one by giving it all the creature comforts. This included a Vintage Air unit, an ididit tilt column, a Mullins wheel, and Auto Meter gauges. The custom seat and door panels were covered in ivory UltraLeather and plaid fabric by Upholstery Unlimited.
Ron will probably be the first to admit that the truck's buildup took more money, time, and effort than anticipated, but the result is nothing short of astounding. It certainly lives up to its billing as something "different," and it almost makes you wish that the Dodge Boys would start building these again on the assembly line. Then again, maybe not. Because mass producing such trucks would just diminish the appeal of a one-of-a-kind rod like this.