Just because a Stude is a good-looking truck doesn't mean it can't benefit from a little finesse. Since Diane likes the look of '50 Lincoln lights, Stan took their shape as inspiration for the pickup. He recessed the stock headlight buckets, rolled flat brass sheet into a tube, and sunk it into the opening. He then created a ring out of more brass stock-no mean feat considering the fender's compound curve. We're oversimplifying things in our description, but he soldered together the rings, drilled and tapped their backsides for screws, dressed the surfaces, and sent them to the plater's. Stan made similar bezels for the '46 Ford running lights.
Though the rings around the '37 Ford taillights were vastly more complicated to make than the headlight rings due to the extreme fender curve, they were the least of Stan's work on the back 40. Remember the wasted bed? Well, replacements are as rare as hen's teeth, and reproductions don't exist at all. Stan still used this bed, but only for patterns.
Working with 16- and 18-gauge galvanized steel, he rolled an entirely new bed-quite an accomplishment considering its double-wall construction and curved exterior. He similarly scratch-built a new tailgate using only the script from the original gate. Rather than leaving the flanks on either side of the tailgate open as they were when stock, Stan filled them, too. He fashioned a similar tailpan to fill the area below the gate. Though it's not a pickup color, the DuPont Centauri acrylic enamel Stan blew on the truck is indeed a Stude blend from that year.
Trucks generally didn't get much styling attention, and those made by a company struggling against the Big Three got even less, which should explain the less-than-elegant bumpers that Stude gave its pickups. These, however, are the exception to the rule: they not only look good, but they also fit the truck and match its era. It's certainly not by accident: they're '49 or '50 Dodge passenger-car bumpers.
But they started as Dodge car bumpers. After judicious cutting, trimming, bending, and filing, they match the Stude's chin and bustle. A strip between the framerails withstanding, he left the area between the fenders and front bumper open. At the rear he crafted a filler panel to span the gap between the bumper and bed.
Their benches are cornerstones to old pickups' feel, so Stan had Jim's Auto and Boat Upholstery in Driggs, Idaho (Stan lives in nearby Horseshoe Bend), retrim it in brown vinyl. Old truck steering wheels are similarly critical to their personalities, but the power-assisted steering eliminated the need for its large-diameter rim. Stan cut out the center, grafted it to a smaller-diameter rim, and blended the transition with plastic. He also sectioned its shaft to match it to the Camaro steering rack. Working with round stock, Stan crafted a truck-worthy shift shaft for the T5 gearbox. Though not appropriate for a concours restoration, the Chevy dash knobs from Chevs of the 40's have the correct look. Since there's no way to similarly doll up modern audio gear, Stan hid the Pioneer head unit in the glovebox and drilled steel door panels for the speakers.
So did dad hit the mark? "I wanted a truck with subtle modifications that still looked pretty original," Diane noted. "I wanted to be able to use it as my daily driver without encountering the problems that I have had with other old cars and trucks." And to that end, she's true to her word: returning to Bend, Oregon, from her pickup's maiden voyage to the Goodguys Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, a good-sized rock took out a windshield panel-and she took it in stride.
"I've got a dog, a Harley, a mountain bike, a boat," she says. "My truck should be able to handle all my adventures!"
If Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey only knew ...