Curt Shumaker, who owns Premium Truck and Auto Body in Ortonville, Michigan, is a lifelong Sprint car racer who recently caught the rodding bug. He wanted to build an older pickup as close to stock body and upgrade the interior and drivetrain. Curt also wanted to put his company's logo on the side of a piece of restored automotive history and cruise it around to show off the shops great workmanship, sort of like a rolling business card.
Curt started building rods a couple years ago. His first was a 1930 Ford two-door sedan that made the pages of Street Rodder magazine when Editor Brian Brennan spotted it parked next to this truck at the 2010 Autorama in Detroit. Curt started the truck one year after he began work on his street rod, but managed to finish them at the same time.
The Ford was found in pieces at an NSRA event in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Someone had started the project but couldn't finish it. As it turned out, the Ford was the perfect truck for Curt's project. The truck created an opportunity for Curt's body shop to receive a lot of attention at Detroit's Autorama and show that his body shop can do custom quality paint and body work. Rods are such good conversation starters; Curt spent all his time at Autorama talking to people about building and painting cars.
The build on the truck started by boxing the frame to stiffen it a bit more for the small-block Chevy that would be powering it and installing a Ford 8-inch rear end with a 3:43 gear suspended on a monoleaf fiberglass rear leaf spring with Monroe shocks and Ford rear drum brakes.
The independent front suspension is a Fat Man Fabrications Mustang II style with a 2-inch-dropped axle and Hypercoil springs and Monroe shocks. The steering is a Mustang II box with an ididit steering column and a Grant alloy steering wheel. Curt upgraded the front brakes to late-model GM discs with an inboard frame-mounted master cylinder, power booster, and a brake-proportioning valve.
The driveline for Curt's truck is based on a GM Performance Parts crate 350 that Curt had Butch Dowker blueprint, balance, and lightly modify. The goal was reliability with good power throughout the full RPM range. The SBC has RHS aluminum heads with a Comp Cams Thumper series cam. The crank is a Lunati with Oliver steel rods and Diamond 9.5:1 aluminum pistons. The Holley 650 carb is sitting on a GM Performance Parts aluminum manifold. The spark is provided by MSD with Mallory wires. The headers are Shoenfeld and breath through a 2 1/2-inch exhaust to Turbo mufflers. The end result is a great all-around engine with 360 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.
Based on a GM crate motor, Curt had Butch Dowker swap out the heads for some RHS aluminum
That power gets channeled through a mildly modified GM 700R4 built by Jeff Aldrich from Grand Blanc, Michigan. Jeff installed a 2800-rpm stall converter and a shift kit in the trans with a Lokar floor shifter handling the gear selection.
The 1937 Ford pickup Curt started with is a hard model to find parts for. The grille and stainless steel trim parts are not reproduced along with most of the sheetmetal. It's the last year with a side-opening hood and a radiator grille shell on Ford trucks. The year 1937 was the first year for Vee windshields to be on all Ford vehicles too.
Curt's goal with his pickup was to keep the body as close to stock as possible while upgrading the interior and powertrain. Justin Goulding, one of Premium Truck and Auto Body's top painters, laid down the flawless two-tone BASF silver and red paintjob and Steve Fairman from Argentine, Michigan, did the logo on the door. The biggest change they made in the body of Curt's '37 was to remove the rear bumper and roll the rear pan. The single wiper and lack of chrome around the hood's louvers are clues that Curt's truck is a standard version. The silver paint on the Ford's grille insert looks like chrome, which would have been on the Deluxe model along with two chrome horns. The silver body and pickup bed looks very classy nestled within the bright red fenders and running boards, and the big flat surface on the door is the perfect place for Curt's shop logo.
Inside Curt's truck, Jeff Kilmer, from White Lake, Michigan, did the charcoal leather interior. The seats were from a Dodge Neon with Juliano's seatbelts. The steering column is an ididit unit with a Grant leather-covered alloy wheel. Older truck interiors can be a little tight, so choosing the right seats and making sure you have a tilt column makes a huge difference when it comes to comfort. Curt's truck is very comfortable and drives really nicely. The job of selecting gears in the GM700R4 transmission is handled by a Lokar shifter. A minor upgrade was done to the dash with SoCal gauges, and all the wiring for the truck was handled by Troy Cubrero, of Troy's restorations in Ortonville, Michigan. Troy used a Painless kit on Curt's truck to make the job almost effortless.
Back when this truck was new it was bought for work. These trucks were beat on and left in a field when they weren't worth fixing anymore. Finding a decent truck and making it look and run this good is one of the best things about hot rodding. This time the truck is not hauling manure or other farm duties, Curt's truck is working for him in public relations. Nothing says "my body shop does great work" better than a rolling business card like Curt's '37 Ford pickup.