Buying a running hot rod truck is a great way to enjoy the hobby while you improve on the truck. After purchasing any truck the desire to “make it your own” is overwhelming, but the first thing we did after purchasing our 1940 Ford pickup was give it a thorough safety inspection, which turned up several items that needed our immediate attention. After the brake line issues and exhaust problems were addressed, we enjoyed driving the truck for a while but then the itch to change things just had to be scratched.

Actually, after cleaning up the suspension, brakes and motor we did a complete repaint. By the time it was over we had changed virtually everything on the truck. One of our projects along the way was improving the interior of the truck. When purchased, the truck had a serviceable interior of black velour in a traditional rolled-and-pleated design. Sporting at least one strange stain and a cigarette burn from owners past, we wanted to go with a more traditional vinyl and leather treatment. The truck also had a mid-’80s GM tilt column that looked too big for the interior and finally the gauge cluster was filled with ’80s-style Stewart-Warner gauges. Yeah, it was time for a cabin makeover.

The cab makeover would be in the style of a mid-’60s hot rod truck. The products used would all be in keeping with that era. One lucky find was an original gauge cluster from a 1941 Ford 1-ton truck. The gauge panel fit our opening perfectly and honestly I think the original gauge cluster looks better than trying to crowd five gauges into the stock opening. Of course the gauge cluster was just the beginning; it was in need of a complete reconditioning.

After a conversation with the team at Classic Instruments we decided to send the gauge panel their way for a complete refurbishing. Classic Instruments doesn’t repair the old gauges or convert them to 12-volt, rather they put all new instrument movements behind the refurbished panel using stock style gauge pointers and graphics. The results are stunning, a great-looking gauge panel that appears original but has all new gauges and senders for modern-day accuracy. We had them add turn signal and high beam indicators to the panel too.

With the gauge problem resolved we welded up a former radio hole in the dashboard and the dashboard was complete. The inside windshield moldings were painted, much like Henry had planned in 1940. But if you were building a hot rod truck in the ’60s chrome was the only way to go for inside garnish moldings, so the windshield moldings were sent off for chrome plating.

During our suspension work we replaced the old Vega steering box with a brand-new unit and then coupled it to a Borgeson Universal Economy Series steering column. The polished stainless steel column and associated dash and floor mounts provide the perfect look for our vintage interior. The column is small and the chrome-like finish is perfect for a ’60s hot rod truck. We topped the column with a reproduction 1940 Ford steering wheel from LimeWorks and called on Ron Francis Wiring for a chrome-plated “Signal-stat” style turn signal unit. The clamp-on unit shares space on the column with the Moon tachometer we purchased from Honest Charley Speed Shop.

Changing from the GM tilt column to the Borgeson Economy Series column meant we would have to relocate and rewire the ignition key. We sourced a new ignition key from Ron Francis Wiring and with help from their tech staff had the wire colors converted from the base of the column to the new switch. The new switch is now mounted in the dashboard to the left of the steering column.