If there's one thing that true hot rodders and classic truckers have in common it's that we're all parts hounds. We haul parts home from swap meets, drag them out of farmers' fields, and hoard them in the rafters of our garages. The rationale is simple: you never know when that part you're holding will come in handy, so you'd better not throw it away. And if you're like Roger Brown and eventually collect enough parts, maybe you can build yourself a truck one day!
Roger's hot rodding days date back decades and he has owned everything from Corvettes and Nomads to DeLoreans and Porches - more than two dozen vehicles in all. (Hey, you've got to try a little of everything to determine what you really like, right?) But when it came to trucks there was one special model that had consistently eluded him. "I always wanted a ['56] big window because I think of it as the '32 Ford roadster of trucks," Roger says. With that in mind he began collecting parts - a fender here, a cab there, a frame over yonder, and so forth - until he had enough to start assembling the all-steel big window bruiser he'd been dreaming about.
When you're acquiring parts it's important to keep the right ones, and Roger had a pretty good selection of chassis components for Mr. Freddie's rod shop to assemble on the boxed Ford frame. This included an early-'80s Camaro subframe with dropped spindles and an '81 Trans Am rearend with 3.70:1 gears. The 350ci Chevy engine began life in a '91 Chevy pickup and is dressed in red paint and billet aluminum. Finished off with a Turbo 350 automatic, the combination of elements makes for a nice, comfortable drivetrain package. "The thing I like best about the truck is how it sits and drives," Roger says, so you know it's put together right.
Roger had two priorities when it came to the truck's body: to maintain the original look and use original parts. "The truck is 100-percent metal and the cab is an original big window," he says. "The most challenging part was making the doors. The right door is constructed from three old doors and the left door from two old doors. The right fender is made from two fenders."
While he was slicing and blending sheetmetal, Roger went ahead and split the rear fenders and widened them 1-3/4-inches at the rear. He also shaved the hood and eliminated the vent windows. Aside from those minor mods and tucking in the bumpers, the body retains its original lines. Roger's friend Bill Collins lent a great deal of assistance with the bodywork and also helped Roger spray the bright Ford Ventura Red paint. A woodworker and custom furniture builder by trade, Roger made his own oak floor for the Dan Carpenter bed.
Taupe-colored Allante leather gives the interior a nice contrast to the truck's bright red exterior and looks great covering the '91 Chevy pickup bench seat and custom door panels. Roger continued raiding the GM parts pile to come up with a Chevy van tilt column, then ordered a new LeCarra wheel to top it off. Auto Meter gauges, Juliano's seat belts, and Vintage Air are just a few other features that make this truck feel more like a '96 model than a bare-bones '56.
Putting together a pickup from a pile of parts is never easy, and it's rarely a one-man task. Fortunately Roger had friends like Hugh Duggar and Bill Collins to lend a hand, as well as assistance from his son Ben. With their help and the right amount of vision and inspiration, Roger was able to assemble a cruiser with a cool factor that far outweighs the sum of its parts.