Many people don't have the opportunity to realize dreams from their childhood. Somehow life seems to get in the way of accomplishing things that once seemed all-important. It's easy to get distracted when you have a family to care for and bills to pay. You put off trying to build something, like a hot rod hauler worthy of the elite street-rod competitions across the country.
But this is America, land of the free and home to the greatest collection of automotive enthusiasts ever amassed on this spinning and rotating blue ball. The U.S. has more gearheads per capita than anywhere. If you don't believe us, spend some time in Detroit, California, Texas, or small town U.S.A. It doesn't matter where, you're sure to see and hear some muscle-bound machines with mirror-smooth bodywork jammin' down the interstates or cruising the show circuits.
The Clarks '40 Ford Pickup took nine years to build. Considering Avery L. Clark, also known as A.L., first envisioned the truck when he drew it at 15, the 41-year wait to start the project must have seemed an eternity. Before starting, he showed his sketch to a professional hot-rod builder who had created many show-winning vehicles. The builder said he'd never be able to build it in metal and told A.L. to consider fiberglass. This statement bowled over A.L. After awhile, he got back up, dusted off, and became determined to build Scrap Iron entirely out of steel.
He later found a well-established professional builder near his home in Tennessee, called Larry Griffey Custom Paint and Metal. Larry's crew knew they could build such a hauler, for they had created numerous show-winning rides in the past. The fabricators started with the easy stuff -- replacing the '40's antiquated solid axle with a Fat Man Fabrications Mustang II IFS unit.
They attached '79 Corvette disc brakes to Fat Mans' 2-inch dropped spindles and narrowed the tubular control arms 1-3/8 inches to accommodate 7-inch-wide rolling stock. Colorado Customs Lazear billet wheels sized 16x7 inches shod with BFGoodrich P205/55R16 Competition Radial T/A tires required 4 inches of backspacing to fit and look right within the front fenderwells. For the rear 17x8-inch Colorado Customs Lazear wheels covered with BFGoodrich P255/60R17 Competition Radial T/A tires, a 3-1/2-inch backspace was needed for proper fitment. The independent rear suspension, also sourced from the same '79 Corvette, has a 3.73:1 final drive ratio and came with factory Corvette disc brakes. It was narrowed 1 inch, so the tires would fit inside the fenders.
Plumbing materials for the braking system consisted of polished stainless steel with black-anodized fittings. Stainless steel Allen head fasteners, both in the button head and cap screw variety, were used throughout the chassis and the entire truck when safety and strength were not an issue. Where safety was in question, Grade-8 hex-head bolts were polished and plated, in conjunction with Grade-8 nylon lock nuts. Unless there were safety concerns, these fastener heads were clocked.
An '89 Chevy 350ci motor with confirmed low mileage had its exterior surfaces ground smooth and painted to match the selected exterior hue, before getting the Street & Performance TPI system installed. The engine accessories that weren't already polished aluminum or stainless steel were chromed. A.L. used some Sanderson chrome headers for future show duty. The fabricators attached the engine assembly to a 700-R4 AOD transmission with Lokar kickdown and installed the lot in the frame. Where possible, braided stainless steel fuel lines were run within the framerails. The lines that run within the 'rails are covered with rubber for safety, while the stainless steel fuel lines attached to the TPI system, fuel filter, and fuel pump are bare to show off their shine. Danny Taylor handmade the 20-gallon stainless steel fuel tank, which the men found a home for behind the ground-smooth and painted Corvette third member. In the opposite framerail (to the fuel line-filled one), the builders ran the rubber-covered battery cables for safety. Once the running chassis was professionally squared away, the real work began on the exterior. Dan Kerbo, Larry Griffey's employee and now owner of Kerbo Custom Classics, performed many of the over 100 body modifications, with Mike Hayes and Kevin Riffey assisting. They chopped the top 3-1/2 inches and cut around the rear-window opening to retain its stock size.
The windshield pillar was sloped 3 degrees from stock. French-style driprails replaced the removed 'rails. The crew modified the windshield opening to accept a one-piece Vee-shaped glass. A pattern was made and farmed out to Vacaville Glass, in Vacaville, California. To clean up the cab's appearance, they removed the cowl vent, smoothed the cowl's side seams, and recontoured the cowl to meet the front fenders and hood sides.
The team of craftsmen handformed the firewall, cab floor, and transmission tunnel. They installed inboard door hinges and electric latches in the B pillar of the cab. The Ford truck dash was removed and replaced with a '40 deluxe car dash. The cab doors were also cut 3-1/2 inches and aligned with the chopped top's confines. They shaved the door handles and installed remote electric openers, with mechanical pull-cable overrides should the electrics fail. Sectioning the hood and grafting it with a '40 deluxe car front hood section came next, once the center seam was welded and smoothed. They modified the hood to open with a late-model pull-cable latch with a safety catch. Gas lifts were installed to open the hood better than hinge springs. By installing L.E.D. parking lights and turn signals between the grille bars of the adapted to fit '40 deluxe car grille, the craftsmen modified the nose and then frenched the headlights.
Behind the cab, 20-gauge steel came into play for the construction of the handformed bed, as well as the tailgate's inner structure. African satin wood serves as the bed floor. In conjunction with the tailgate, the bed lid's steel skin was formed on an English wheel. The crew made 29 cuts to recontour the rear fenders to flow with the new bedsides and tailgate. Then, the L.E.D. taillights went into the hand-fabricated frenched openings. Both the front and rear bumpers were split and reshaped to match the fenders, in addition to removing the bumper bolts and incorporating handmade brackets to fasten them fast. We haven't described all of the 100-plus modifications to the body panels; suffice it to say that this Ridler Great 8 finalist has had all of its body panels highly customized or handmade. Mike Hayes performed all the paint preparation.
The experts at Larry Griffey's shop exquisitely laid down a custom one-of-a-kind color of paint from PPG to a show-winning standard. In keeping with the '50s-style body customizations, Griffey's shop hand-pinstriped the cab, doors, and body, with accents over each of the headlights and even the taillights.
Since this Ridler-worthy ride would also be driven after its premiere year, the cockpit had to be as comfortable as it would look. Bobby Griffey covered the custom bucket seats in fawn-hued leather. He used the same color in cloth for the moldings up the window and leather for the moldings down. Even the underside of the tonneau was covered in fawn cloth. The floor was treated to leather with wool carpet inserts. Once the Vintage Air HVAC was installed, interior comfort was assured.
The dashboard came from a '40 Ford deluxe car dash. A half-wrap of African satin wood with walnut inlay and matching horn button was used to dress up the billet aluminum steering wheel. Twenty-gauge steel was used to form a center console from the dash down over the new tranny-tunneled floor. To match the selected bed floor wood, an African satin wood insert was placed within the center console. A Kenwood CD/stereo system made the grade for providing symphony quality sound within the cozy confines of the cab.
After learning about this remarkable Ridler contender, you're probably wondering how Suzanne and A.L. Clark came to name it Scrap Iron. Ever since he was a kid, A.L.'s nickname has been Scrap Iron. As he was always playing in his dad's salvage yard, A.L. got the name from his dad's employees. Since the moniker obviously is the inverse to the awesome Ford hot-rod hauler that he envisioned and had constructed, A.L. thought the name was a perfect fit.
We wholeheartedly agree. A.L. thanks all the craftsmen and especially his wife Suzanne (for her patience and understanding), for making his 50-year dream a reality. A.L., we appreciate your scrap-iron tenacity for conceiving it and for finding an accomplished crew of craftsmen who could create it.
A Street & Performance TPI system bolted atop the '89 Chevy 350ci motor ensures that fuel
Bobby Griffey stitched the custom bucket seats in fawn-hued leather. As far as the floorbo
Twenty-gauge steel was used to form a center console from the dash down over the newly con
Fawn-colored leather and cloth adorn the artfully crafted door panels.
In conjunction with the tailgate, the bed lid's steel skin was formed on an English wheel
Some of the over 100 body modifications went into the bed, rear fenders, rear bumpers, and
BFGoodrich P255/60R17 Competition Radial T/A tires cover the rear 17x8-inch Colorado Custo
Frenching the front headlights and pinstriping the headlight openings using a '50s-esque a