In actuality, it is usually the ones you least suspect. With eight custom cars and trucks in his possession, the last vehicle Bob Dron would've expected to draw such attention would be his custom '40 Ford cab-over-engine (COE) truck. But all you need is one look at this mysterious beast and you'll be mesmerized. For a truck that was purpose-built by Ford to endure a hard laborious life filled with anything but glamorous hauling duties, this space-age sheetmetal monster has endured. The original design of the truck is quite Art Deco and stylish, almost like it should be part of the service fleet for the Queen Mary. In its present state, it looks like it belongs on display inside the majestic ship or in the Smithsonian. It's kinda cool to think that Bob drives the hell out of it!
The COE had been a work in progress for many years and for many owners (or should I say curators?). Bob bought the truck from his good friend Barry Weiss in Los Angeles who took the project a long way from where it started when he got it. Barry got help from SoCal buddies Walt Kurczynski, Bill Cooke, Jerry Pappas, and Steve Stanford for brainstorming, after which they grafted on the '39 Lincoln Zephyr headlights, reshaped the lower front valance, added the diamond plate and a tailgate to the bed, and finished by shooting everything in semi-gloss black enamel. To make sure Barry could haul his restored Airstream trailers with the COE, they dropped in a '95 Chevy 355-inch small-block and matching Turbo 350 trans for worry-free towing and cruising.
Most of what Barry and company had done to the truck remains today under Bob's ownership, but he had Tom Walsh go through what was going to stay. The chassis is of unknown custom descent, made from box tubing with a disc brake Nova front clip that mounts a Mustang rack for easy maneuvering. Below the diamond-plated bed, Bob had Leonard Lopez from Dominator Street Rods in Oakland, California, change out the old axle and leaf springs in favor of Air Ride and a late-model GM rearend that's home to a 3.73:1 limited-slip gear. Fifteen-inch steel wheels wrapped in Coker radial whitewalls and '57 Cadillac wheelcovers now roll the ex-flatbed down the highway to coincide with the latest work taking place.
The '40 went to the highly regarded Lucky 7 Customs in Antioch, California, so that Marcos Garcia could go over its exterior with a fine-toothed comb to smooth out the last 10 years of service under Barry's care. To crown an unusual jewel such as this, Marcos covered all of the COE's molded panels in red with a flattened clearcoat to keep the suede look. Topping off the red with tasteful gloss black scallops to accentuate the unique lines of the truck might just be the icing on this utilitarian cake.
Not letting the moss grow on the project and the end in sight, it was taken to Custom Auto Interiors in Bloomington, California, to have the skillful needle of Ron "The Stitcher" Mangus work his magic. The custom seats were deftly baptized in red vinyl tuck 'n' roll bordered in black piping. Elsewhere we find black loop carpet with red piping and more of the red T&R on the firewall. Other than that, the cabin is fairly basic, with a Colorado Custom wheel on a GM tilt column. Ventilation even comes in the old fashioned variety-a crank open split windshield and manually roll-down side glass.
Bob admits that even with nicer cars to choose from, the COE is his favorite. Perhaps it is because he feels like the pilot of what trucks might look like on Mars or it's because the '40 IS one of the coolest trucks on the road-period.