The automotive aftermarket has made it possible—and not at all unusual—for owners to build a street rod or a classic truck entirely from new parts. If those cars and trucks could talk, they might have stories to tell, but would those stories be nearly as interesting as the stories told by the old survivors?
To that end, we went hunting through our archives and dug up four of our favorite Dodge pickup trucks from the last 10 years. Although each of these four trucks was built to a different style, they share a few similarities, including that they are all Dodges. They are all also homebuilt survivors, saved from destruction after decades of neglect in somebody’s barn, garage, or field. And they all have a long lifetime of stories to tell.
The Custom: 1934 Dodge 5-Window Pickup
Chet Jackman sent before and after photos of his homebuilt 1934 Dodge to Street Rodder magazine. The early photos show the truck rusting away in the field where it had sat for 30 years, ignored by the family that bought it new. After buying it and taking it back to Sagle, Idaho, Chet decided that instead of restoring it, he would turn it into something unique: a five-window pickup. The process was hard work and involved stretching the cab and grafting on a modified 1929 five-window roof. The rest of the cab was treated to a bunch of custom modifications, including 1934 Dodge sedan rear doors, Pontiac rear fenders, Ford F-1 running boards, a 1956 Dodge tailgate, shaved body panels, and a sea of Viper Red paint.
Pressing the push-button ignition fires a dressed-up 2006 Hemi engine. The chassis was built with a Total Cost Involved Engineering front suspension and a triangulated four-link rear. The 17- and 20-inch Foose Design wheels are backed with Wilwood disc brakes. Black leather upholstery and carbon-fiber panels fill the modern interior, accessorized with air conditioning, a USB-capable stereo, and touchscreen navigation. Read more on this ’34 5-window pickup at HOT ROD.
The Preserved Survivor: 1954 Dodge Job-Rated Pickup
As a teenager with limited resources, but a ton of enthusiasm and ambition, David Chacon from the Los Angeles area, took a different approach than Chet Jackman when building his Dodge truck. The 1954 Job-Rated was a retired old farm truck and looked almost exactly like it does here when David bought it. He had to promise the owner he wouldn’t do anything crazy like replacing the single-barrel 230 Flathead Six engine with a V-8 or painting it a weird color.
The Dodge hadn’t been driven during David’s lifetime until he connected a six-volt battery, started the truck, and drove it around his neighborhood. His initial work was not hot rodding, but cleaning, repairing, replacing, and rebuilding just about everything on the truck. Since he depended on it as his daily driver, nothing was started that would require taking the Dodge off the street. New paint was limited to the dash and door panels. Interior upgrades meant rewiring the gauges and throwing an auto parts store seat cover and a blanket over the 55-year-old bench seat until David could take it to the next step. It’s been 10 years since Custom Classic Trucks Magazine took these photos and published a story on David’s Job-Rated. Head to HOT ROD to read more on this ’54 Dodge survivor.
The Old School Cruiser: 1935 Dodge Second Series Pickup
Unlike the other trucks in this group, Francis Mestayer’s 1935 Dodge truck didn’t spend half a century hibernating on somebody else’s property. It spent those years on Francis’ own property. After buying the truck in 1965, he spent time in the Air Force and with the typical distractions that keep hot rodders from building hot rods. About six years ago, he turned his attention to a frame-off rebuild of the truck. The goal was a reliable and fun driver. After 2-1/2 years, francis and his friend Sonny Buvens finished—just in time to take it on the road with the HOT ROD Power Tour. The original steel was in good condition and, in true hot rodder style, Francis learned how to weld, work on sheetmetal, and paint.
Old school details include the 14- and 15-inch mag wheels and the simple satin black paintjob. Newer details are halogen blue halo headlights, cruise control, updated audio, and the engine and transmission. Another difference between Francis’ truck and these others is that his is Chevy-powered. The engine is a 2000 5.3-liter Vortec, backed by a 4L60E transmission and Chevy rearend. HOT ROD has the full story of this old-school cruiser.
The Retro Rod: 1936 Dodge Pickup
When Ted Panofsky pulled this 1936 Dodge pickup out of the farm where he found it, he probably never imagined it would be displayed at the Grand National Roadster Show. To be clear, it wasn’t indoors behind velvet ropes, but outdoors in the Drive-In area. Even so, it was the GNRS.
After sitting untouched on that farm, the truck sat untouched at Ted’s house in Woodside, California. Eventually, he tore it all apart and put it all back together, mating the factory cab with an aftermarket bed. He chose to keep the truck mostly, but not precisely retro looking. That look is exemplified by the rolling stock combination: original and very cool 1936 Dodge artillery wheels rolling on fat radial tires. Unlike David Chacon, Ted filled the engine compartment with a more muscular Chrysler engine. The carbureted 360 makes 400 horsepower and wears finned Mopar Magnum valve covers and air cleaner. A Tremec 5-speed transmission sends torque to the 4.11-geared 9-inch rear. The truck is carried by an Art Morrison frame and independent front suspension and triangulated rear 4-bar. The cab is finished in deep tan leather. You’ll find a few more details about this Mopar-powered hauler at HOT ROD.