Car culture traditionalists might not like to admit to it, but true inspiration for new customizing ideas oftentimes doesn't come from within their ranks. An excellent example to illustrate our contention is Doug Pederson's Downs-bodied '37 Ford pickup manufactured by Lawton, Michigan's Downs Manufacturing.
Inspired by the Australian '37 Ford Ute, the Downs '37 Ford pickup made its debut at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1999. Although a car-based utility vehicle already existed in the lineup of U.S.-made Fords, in 1934 the Australians were first to design a Ute that didn't look like a car with a wheelbarrow stuck in its butt. In addition to their all-fiberglass rendition of the streamlined '37 Ford Ute, Downs offers a stepside bed constructed of steel as an alternative. The steel-bedded version smokes Ford's original Model 74/78 Standard Coupe With Pickup Body in the looks department.
Well, that's enough Ute history. Well-known street rod builder Jerry Beard of Springfield, Illinois completed the Downs '37 Ford pickup featured here in 2001. Doug told us that during the time Jerry was building the '37, he was in contact with Jerry and he planned on buying it. As fate would have it, when Jerry and Doug met at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals, Doug and his wife decided to buy a Downs three-window coupe Jerry had built instead. The Downs '37 went on to take top honors for PPG's Outstanding Use of Color award.
Ultimately the '37 ended up in the hands of Scott and Jeanie Perry of Frankfort, Kentucky. Doug hadn't even returned to his Texas home before remorse settled in-the truck Jerry had built was beginning to haunt him. Doug ended up buying and building another Downs '37 Ford pickup, but he couldn't get the PPG Wheatland Yellow new-age Ute out of his mind. The first time out for the '37 Downs pickup Doug built, it took Pro's Pick at the Oklahoma NSRA Nats. A guy at the Nats asked Doug how much he would take for it, and before he could decide it was a bad idea, the truck was sold. In Doug's words, "I was without my dream truck again." For about a year, Doug was without a Downs '37, but not completely sans pickup. He still had his '48 Chevy 1/2-ton...but there was just something about a Downs that reached Doug's very soul.
While speaking with Jerry Beard, Doug learned the Wheatland Yellow '37 Downs pickup might be coming up for sale. Scott Perry had traded the truck off and the guy who had it might sell. Doug called the truck's second owner and made an offer without even seeing it. The two struck a deal and the Wheatland Yellow '37 was on its way to Texas. Doug really loved the way the '37 looked when it first left Jerry's Illinois shop, but now it was time to "make it his."
A centered '95 Impala dash cluster evokes the feel of vehicles designed to adapt to either
From this angle, the Air Ride Technologies bagged suspension really sets the stance. Note
Ray Mitchell at All Pro Trim upholstered Doug's interior in almond and sand-colored Ultral
The first area of attack was the '37's profile. The traditional street rod stance with wheels and tires matching the fender's radius was dumped in favor of tucking the wheels, a styling cue lifted from mini-truckers. The 16-inch Boyd Coddington Extremes at the front and the 17-inch Extremes on the rear were booted in favor of 17-inch Boyd Coddington Shadows in the front and 20-inch Shadows on the rear. Essential to getting Doug's '37 to lay harder and guaranteeing the wheels would tuck, the Mustang II frontend was bagged and the Aldan coilovers on the rear were tossed for bags.
Doug admitted that he enjoys hitting his remote-controlled switches to lay the truck out when he parks. He didn't mention whether or not he likes to rail on people. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "railing" or "dragging," it refers to dropping the truck as low as it will go and disappearing in a wake of sparks. We know it sounds dumb, but trust us, it's fun-albeit a little destructive.
Now for the people who thought borrowing styling cues from mini-truckers was bad, get ready, because it only gets worse; the next group is bikers. When it comes to a custom paint job on a Harley-Davidson, the number one criteria by which all jobs are judged is known as edge. No matter how nice the paint job might look, if you can run your hand over it and feel the graphics, it's crap.
The award winning PPG Wheatland Yellow paint job on Doug's '37 was done by Allan Summers in his shop not far from Jerry Beards. Allan and Jerry have teamed up to produce numerous showstoppers throughout their association. For the custom paint and graphics on Doug's truck, Allan laid down the graphics first and then the Wheatland Yellow base color. This method leaves the graphics as a low spot, leveled off with clear in the final coats of paint. The last stage is to color-block sand and finish off with a wheel (buffer). The end result is a show-winning paint job without any edge whatsoever.
With a long list of really great vehicles preceding his Downs '37 Ford pickup, Doug told us it's his favorite vehicle ever. Doug added that he cruises in the pickup every chance he gets. Considering what he went through to be the '37's current caretaker, we can understand why.
A billet steering wheel from Boyd's old Monroe Street shop is mounted on a tilt-steering c
Power windows come standard on all Downs '37 Ford pickups. The window's shape is timelessl
Jerry Beard's fabricated steel airbox rests atop a '95 Corvette LT1 5.7L 350-inch small-bl
In the dark lurks a custom Downs '37 Ford grille smack in the middle of the '37 Ford's sig
The bedlid is standard Downs issue. Jerry Beard started the trend of hanging a spoiler on
Jerry Beard frenched in a sextet of '99 Ford dualie rear-fender DOT markers for taillights