When the rat rod ‘thing’ got going some years ago, Chad Warne’s step-father, John, had just finished building a’32 Chevy three-window coupe (formerly a five-window). Primered gray, it kinda looked like a rat rod but with super deluxe Corvette suspension.
That ‘32 Chevy was the first time Chad rode in a hot rod. He became afflicted, wanted one for himself, and had no idea that rodding and rust gets in your blood. He wanted a rod so bad, and the vehicle you see here came to Chad in a dream. He sketched it out, showed it to John, and convinced his father-in-law to help. He wanted a rat rod B-A-D!
Weeks previous, John had been given a ’38 Dodge pickup body and bed by a friend – it’d been blasted to bare metal and then the friend lost interest. It sat outside his garage, in the Colorado snow, and rain – developed surface rust. John hauled it home thinking maybe he’d build a simple roadster pickup-type. Chad’s rat rod dreams changed that.
Needless to say, John figured it was too much of an undertaking for a first time build and discouraged Chad. But he couldn’t get his sketches out of his head. He enlarged them and tacked them to the garage wall as reminders. John finally gave in and gifted Chad the rusty pickup.
The roadster materialized from a pile of left-over parts after Chad enlisted his father-in-law’s help. Starting at the bottom, a suitable frame was needed – a discarded ’38 Ford frame would work – modified to fit the pick-up body. Speedway Super Bell 4-inch dropped axle, spindles and hairpins were hung out front, and a coil-over triangulated four-link 9-inch Lincoln Versailles disc brake rear-end was scrounged. Chad figured a Hemi would be appropriate power for the Dodge pick-up body. A local one came up for sale, he bought it and sent it out for rebuilding.
In the meantime, the stock truck windshield was chopped 3-½ inches and the original truck bed was removed – destined to become a flower planter in the back yard. Chad’s sketch included a 1956 Chrysler tail for the roadster – another Mopar part for the Mopar build.
A crusty 4 door was purchased and the rear, just behind the doors, was removed and narrowed 15 inches. In order to retain the taillights, the rear bumper needed to be shortened as well. The Chrysler tail was mated to the Dodge pick-up body at the rear of its doors.
Once attached, Chad and John channeled the whole thing five inches. The Dodge’s stock body reveals on the hood, cowl, and doors were nice, so matching body reveals were added to the sides, ending at the taillights. New wheel wells were built into the rear of the body to make it look like it wasn’t just extra Mopar parts welded to the pick-up cab. The back-rest, behind the seat was “rolled” using round rod and the ’56 Chrysler tulip panel massaged to meet the back-rest.
The gas tank and filler opening were added behind the seat and a van seat was narrowed. Not wanting to weld the deck lid closed, the hinges were retained and the original ’56 Chrysler key still unlocks and opens the trunk. Inside, a ’51 Buick dash was narrowed and molded into the doors. The ‘51 Buick steering column was used and the steering wheel was custom-formed, retaining the Buick horn ring.
With the body close to completion, the 1956 354-inch Hemi and a GM 700 R-4 tranny was adapted and painted, and snuggled into the frame. Dual fours were added and Lakes headers made it look more like a hot rod – a deluxe hot rod.
The rat rod image was slowly going away, however. The stock Dodge hood was opened up so the scoop-type air cleaner poked thru. The body was sprayed satin black and whitewalls, steel wheels and spiders completed the look – that is, the FIRST time Chad’s rat rod was ‘finished’!
Chad drove the car a couple summers, but the car didn’t have enough power for him – the dual fours just didn’t have the right look. He wanted a genuine blower under those carburetors and opted to re-do the engine. While he was at it, he changed the ‘look’ of the car by blacking out the grille, adding new wheels and tires and a pair of slicks.
Before putting it back on the street, and tired of the flat black rat rod look, he had the body sprayed Charcoal. Some pinstripes complement the car, the seat got silver rolls and pleats, and black carpet complements the exterior.
Now that it’s really ‘finished,’ Chad has put quite a few miles on it, found out what it’ll turn at the drag strip, and has garnered a few awards. It may have been Chad’s first time building a ground-up rat rod/hot rod, and you can bet it definitely won’t be his last one.
Say what you will about a not-so-contemporary build, but we think it’s definitely a hot rod. What would you call it: roadster, rat rod, deluxe rat rod, one–off, or would you like to call it yours?