In today's fast-paced digital world, there seems to be virtually no limit to what can be found by simply sitting at one's wirelessly linked computer, logging onto the Web, and surfing one's way to a site that features something that piques one's interest.
Take Jim Arrabito, for example. Jim is a commercial photographer by trade, and he has had to adjust to dealing with megapixels instead of emulsion types. With the transition to a digital world, Jim found himself well versed in surfing the vast reaches of the Internet as a resource for his varied passions, one of which is classic vehicles. Late one evening Jim stumbled on a Web site by the name of Deals On Wheels. He surfed past so many great rides that night that he doesn't remember bookmarking a '41 Chevy 1/2-ton. But like a haunting message from The Twilight Zone, in the following days Jim kept receiving pictures of a classic Bow Tie pickup in his e-mail.
Curiosity finally got the best of Jim, and he decided to look into the truck a little further. After talking to the truck's owner the old-fashioned way-by phone-the pair decided on what Jim thought was a fair price. The only hitch was that Jim would have to fly south to California and drive the truck home, leaving him only enough time to superficially examine the truck before hitting the road.
The trip north went smoothly, and Jim's spirits were buoyed along the way home by the warm reception he received each time he gassed up the old hauler. Things took a downward turn, though, when he rolled into his hometown of Port Townsend, Washington, two days later. Jim dropped in on his friend KC Davis at his shop, Welding Plus, to show off his new ride and get the truck in the air for a closer inspection. That's when the bubble burst. With the truck up on KC's lift, it became clear the Chevy was in need of major frame repairs, and he recommended Jim not drive it any further. On KC's firmly worded advice, Jim left the truck at the shop, where KC began the needed repairs to make the chassis roadworthy.
KC ground down and re-welded all the mounts securing the Mustang II front suspension the previous owner had installed, added new cross-bracing, replaced all the worn-out bushings, and double-checked the Camaro steering column that leads up to a Grant GT steering wheel. Repairs were also made to the shock mounts to keep the front Koni shocks in place, and KC fixed the various "bullet holes" in the frame while boxing the 'rails for added strength. For the chassis' finishing touch, KC utilized a laser to ensure the alignment was on the money.
While the truck was on the lift, Jim noticed the '63 Vette's 327-inch motor had its share of problems as well. The green ooze seeping from the block was due to rusted-out steel freeze plugs, which KC replaced with brass ones. KC went through the top end, which now inhales through a Carter AFB mounted on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold. To light the mixture, the 327 relies on a Mallory Pro-Master distributor, with the spent fumes quieted to a throaty rumble by a pair of Cherry Bomb mufflers. The truck came equipped with a Turbo 350 automatic tranny Jim felt was operating well enough, so it was re-sealed and readied for more miles, though Jim has plans to update the current Pep Boys' shifter to a Lokar unit.
With the chassis repairs completed, Jim turned the truck over to Huggie and the crew at Flair With Air, another group of Port Townsend's automotive craftsmen, who took the tired sheetmetal from shabby to shiny. Jim chose House of Kolor black metalflake for the top, with a light-capturing HOK gold metalflake on the lower half that rolls over the sensuously curved fenders like the beam of a cop's flashlight on a traffic violator's face. To create a different look, the '41 rear bumper was bobbed and altered by Steve at Mobile Logic in Port Townsend to match Jim's own design. The grille, front bumpers, and trim were bathed in lustrous show chrome by EFS Plating Co., a family run business in Port Orchard, before being bolted in place.
The creature comforts inside the cab were the last step in the new truck's latest incarnation-we say latest because Jim never seems content with "as is," and he has a bushel of changes planned for the future. But for now, Toyota Supra seats covered in gray and black cloth provide a perch for Jim and his significant other, Jessica. The dash cluster is a billet aluminum piece of unknown origin filled with Mallory gauges. To pass the miles on the way to events with his club, The Port Townsend Rakers, or just cruising solo, a Pioneer CD/radio fills the cab with tunes.
As a final check, Jim turned the truck over to Colin at Townsend Electric in his hometown to give the wiring a final once-over to ensure trouble-free miles. Since the truck was originally a California cruiser, creature comforts like the heater and windshield wipers were eliminated in the name of custom, but Jim's location in the Pacific Northwest mandated the return of said components since Jim uses his '41 as a daily driver.
Jim notes that if it weren't for the assistance of his friends and fellow truckers in the Port Townsend area, his dream truck would have stayed just that-a dream. As Jim so succinctly put it, "It really does take a village to build a hot rod. While most of these guys aren't big-time national names, in our small community, they sure are."
A chrome air cleaner hides...
A chrome air cleaner hides a Carter AFB matched to an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold.
Who would have ever thought...
Who would have ever thought to hide the gas tank and battery in a super cool polished aluminum toolbox?
No, that's not the world's...
No, that's not the world's largest shift knob in the cab of Jim's '41, but it is where a Lokar shifter will reside in the not-so-distant future.