E3 Spark Plugs’ 1940 Dodge Truck By Cool Hand Customs – SEMA Bound!

We’re baaack…

In this segment of E3 Spark Plug’s and Cool Hand Custom’s 1940 Dodge Truck SEMA truck build, aka “40-440,” we take a look at CHC owners Amy and EJ Fitzgerald’s progress and skilled handiwork fabricating an exoskeleton, cockpit, and motor that brings this 78-year-old Dodge truck into the 21st century.

EJ and Amy Fitzgerald of Cool Hand Customs have been working hard to get this rig ready for SEMA 2018, so let’s check on their progress.

With a brand new frame and running gear to underpin the body, the only body parts Amy and EJ saved from the original truck was the cab, front clip, and core support. Let’s take a look at the vast and varied assortment of components–as well as sweat and wrenching–that brought this build together.

First off, they cleaned up the old cab. They media blasted it to see what the heck they were dealing with and when the dust settled–literally–they cut out three tin-worm infested areas and replaced them with new metal.

Amy said “The sheet metal on the 78-year-old-cab was insanely thick and strong. We went through an amazing amount of drill bits and sawblades getting the thing roughed into shape. They left the cab height stock, not only saving time and money, but more importantly, retaining an old -skool, “tallboy” feel. To keep things cool CHC used The heat and sound suppression products from Thermotec. To keep out the  elements, CHC used all new glass with Steele Weatherstripping throughout.

The truck came from the factory with two access floor panels, but they were long gone after after all these years. EJ estimated that they replaced 98 percent of the floor with new sheet metal.

From there, they sourced a reproduction 1952 Ford from Midwest Early Ford. Essentially the same size as the old Dodge, CHC shortened and massaged it to fit.  Amy said, “Every nut and bolt came with the bed which really helped installation. We were impressed with how complete the kit was.”

It was here, one of the signature tweaks of 40-440 began to take shape. CHC created a clear bed via poly carbonate slats that showcase the custom frame, rear suspension, wiring and brake lines.  This required four custom cross members and considerable fabrication hours to pull off. We think this aspect of the truck with be a real crowd pleaser.

For fenders they chose fiberglass units from DCM Classics all the way around.  CHC not only massaged them to a mirror finish, but relocated the Grote XLT headlights down low on the front fenders as well. The running boards were originally made of wood but had long succumbed to the elements, so EJ swapped ’em out with fiberglass replacements–also from DCM Classics–and added custom steel reinforcements.

To finish it all off, CHC painted the truck onsite with Summit Racing Hot Rod Satin White with Black Satin accents.

The Interior

Inside, CHC went a interior kit from Robert’s Motor Parts that included door panels, kick panels and headliner. Underfoot, they finished the floor off with marine-grade textured vinyl and added Dolphin gauges, PRP racing seats in black leather with E3 green accents,  Race Quip seatbelts, and a Classic Performance Products steering column.

They motorized the original cowl vent for fresh air, nicely complimenting the factory swing-out windshield.

Wiring up an old sled can be a pain in the rear. Amy defers, “I love wiring up cars!  Combine that with the ease of the Painless Wiring we used and I have very therapeutic, zen-like moments fishing and connecting everything together!”

The Mill

For motivation, they yanked a 440V8 out of a 1974 Winnebago Brave and then sent the old RV to the scrapyard in the sky. With assistance from TR from Old School Classics, CHC rebuilt the old 440 with a Fel-Pro kit and bored it out 0.30, and tossed in forged crank and pistons.

First they went with a Trick Flow top end kit (Powerport aluminum heads and Trackheat Intake) and added a Holley double pumper four barrel carburetor. They tuned the motor to Trick Flow’s specs and estimate it’s putting out 619 hp and 576 lb-ft of torque.

All this horsepower is sent to the rear wheels via a B&M Torqueflite, three-speed transmission hooked up to a TruTrac differential from Eaton.  This setup will be more than enough to power 40-440 through many more miles of service.

Additionally, CHC used a BeCool aluminum radiator, Flowmaster U-Fit Exhaust, and AMSOil for all lubricants.

SEMA bound!

The old truck just shipped out for Las Vegas and will be holding court at E3 Spark Plug’s 2018 SEMA booth #71000.  If you’re headed to SEMA, be sure and stop by and see the truck in person! Say hit to EJ and Amy too!

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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