In 1939, Ford chief designer E.T. “Bob” Gregorie gave the all-new 1940 Chevy Pickup trucks “prow front” styling of the 1939-1940 passenger cars. Creating in the eyes of many die-hard Ford fans, the most beautiful pre-war Pickup ever made. Only surpassed in my eyes, by the 1955 F100. This model is a great candidate for modification. Whether it’s a Billet queen or a Rat Rod, everything looks perfect on this stately lady.
So how do you improve on the most beautiful pre-war Pickup ever made? You start off by taking away the lady part and giving it some attitude. And if your name is Leroy Tulip aka The Black Tulip from Edenvale, that’s just the start of the transformation. In May 2011, he heard there was an abandoned Rod at Sportech Cars in Jozi. When he got there he saw her standing there looking sad, with flat tyres and covered in dust. She was begging for love and the chance to be the best she could be. He immediately fell in love with her and took her home to massage some much-needed life into the old shell. She was 80% complete but needed to be brought up to speed. So being a Ford fan, the decision was made to keep everything original Ford.
At the base, he started with a custom chassis by Creative Carversions Custom Car Builders with a Ford Cortina front end and a Ford Grenada rear. Then this was mated to a Ford C4 three-speed auto transmission connected to a Ford 351 Cleveland block, pushing out in excess of 300hp. Furthermore, cold air is supplied by a 4-barrel Holley carb. Lastly, the used gasses are expelled by a custom exhaust created by Creative Carversions.
All in all, a great start
The body was decent, so the House of HotRod only needed to shoot it with a mean-looking matt black paint job. And then Eric Brown topped that off with some custom hand-painted graphics. Adding to this, front stopping power is supplied by disc brakes, and in the rear with drums. It works for most cars, so why change the formula. All the stopping power is transferred to the road via 215/60/17 front tyres and 255/65/17 rear Yokohama Geolandar tyres with a white wall conversion by Jeppe tyres. They are connected to the car by 17” American Racing Torque Thrust II rims. Oooh yeah, it just looks perfect. Sometimes someone just hits a home run with a car. This is one of those rare occasions.
The headlights are one of the few parts not supplied by Uncle Henry Ford. The lights are Harley Davidson Fatboy headlights and they fit perfectly. At the back, lighting is supplied by round polished stainless tail lights from House of Hotrod. The top was chopped by Creative Carversions and Custom Load Bin worked on the doors and shaved the door handles. Furthermore, the electric windows were done by House of Hotrod.
The interior is sparse in a beautiful kind of way. Sitting on the leather-covered bench you look at the steering wheel and realize that there is no control clutter around you. Leroy fabricated a series of switches to control everything, a very elegant set-up. Info is relayed to the cap by a massive rev counter, oil pressure gauge, water temperature gauge, volt meter, and fuel gauge. Yes, you read right, there is no speedometer. So, if you are interested in how fast you’re going, then you’re not getting the idea behind this car.
The only drawback with the cab is the bench seat. It’s very upright and a bit uncomfortable, especially on long trips. But at least you won’t fall asleep behind the wheel. The only extras in the cab are two fire extinguishers. This is a Hot Rod, with the figure of the Mother Mary on the dash for the times when the situation gets a bit hairy. It might sound sparse, but that’s all you need in a classic Hot Rod.
In the back is the custom fuel tank and while 40 litres might sound like a lot, with 5 km/l it doesn’t go far. If you think about it, filling this tank today costs more than buying the whole car in 1940. Oh, how times have changed. She’s not a trailer queen and gets driven around a lot. The furthest was from Jozi to Kimberley for the Nationals and she is taken out to as many car shows as possible. The next build is a 1975 Chevy C10 and like the ‘40, it is going to be a one-make car as well. This will be done with a 350cu Chevrolet and a new interior. We’ll be keeping our eyes on this one.
I asked Leroy if there is anything he’d change and his answer was “no she’s perfect like she is”. I tend to agree that perfection isn’t something you can buy. It just happens when you really love your project. This is a car I wouldn’t mind parking in my driveway, but I suspect getting her away from her current owner would be impossible.
Ford, matt black, V8, and chrome, what more could any petrolhead want.