When Joe Adkins decided that he wanted to try his hand at building a hot rod instead of another muscle car or late-model like he'd done in the past, the practicality of a hot rod truck for Joe and his wife Pat started to make sense. A fluid power salesman by trade, Joe is also an avid woodworker, so having a classic to haul wood around only added to his enthusiasm to go with a pickup. He began dropping into local hot rod builders as he knew that this project was going to be above and beyond those that he'd undertaken in the past. His travels brought him to Dwayne Dearth's DoWop Rod & Custom shop where the two discussed Joe's latest project. They worked out an agreement that allowed Joe to help pitch in on the build, letting him get his hands dirty while Dwayne's shop would oversee the majority of the build. With that ironed out there was only one thing left to get the ball rolling; Joe hadn't found a truck yet.
Word of mouth eventually led Joe to an estate sale where there was what was thought to be a '40 Ford pickup for sale. Upon arriving, Joe was quick to notice that while it wasn't a Ford, he did like the stance, thanks in part to flat front tires, the front sheetmetal and most of all, the rear fenders. It was soon determined that the old pickup they were checking out was actually a 1941 International, owned by a local farmer for 27 years to haul pigs and farm equipment. In 1968, he handed it off to his grandson who proceeded to drive the wheels off it until the motor gave up the ghost and it was pushed into the barn. The Adkins were elated to have found a pickup with such a short and local history and soon the truck was loaded up and heading back to their Liberty Township, Ohio, home.
The first stop was to DoWop's shop where Joe dropped off the pickup and went over the build with Dwayne. The first thing they decided to tackle was the suspension. To give the truck the right stance, they replaced the stock front suspension with a '69 Chevy Nova clip, gaining disc brakes and giving the truck a more raked hot rod stance in the process. Out back, a '69 Camaro rearend was hung on parallel leaf springs and gas shocks. American Torq-Thrust II wheels, 15x8s all around and shod in 195/60 and 235/70 give that big 'n' little look that all hot rod trucks should have. To finish off the chassis accoutrements, a small-block Chevy mated to a Muncie four-speed was slid between the 'rails to provide "motorvation."
The sheetmetal on Joe's International was pretty beat, having served its life on the farm, but everything save the rear fenders was salvageable. These he found from another International builder who had been scouring for spare parts for years and after some coaxing, agreed to sell Joe his spare set. Joe drove down to the man's Kentucky home and after a short battle with a bobcat who had made the barn his home, Joe had a decent set of rear fenders in hand. Back at the shop, the new rear fenders were bolted up and DoWops promptly knocked every panel straight before spraying the truck in PPG Viper Red.
The last step in the build was to ship the International over to Pierson Auto Care in Mount Orab, Ohio, where the grey cloth upholstery was stitched up over a Ford Ranger bench seat and custom door panels. Auto Meter gauges sit in custom aluminum panels on the dash and a tilt steering column topped by a Grant steering wheel finish off the interior. Using his woodworking skills, Joe whittled the bed wood kit out of oak with Mar-K strips separating each piece.
Of all the friends he's made over the few years it took to get the International built, one of the most touching stories is better left to be told by Joe himself. "I was at a little cruise-in and this guy came up and was telling me about his grandpa giving him a truck like this for his first car. The more we talked I figured out that it wasn't a truck just like this that he was talking about, but this truck. Sometimes you gotta bend the rules about people touching your stuff. I could see he had memories in his head as he rubbed the bedrails. It was neat."