After all of that modification, body man Brian Caldwell and painter Brian Tornatore had their work cut out for them. but both performed admirably as evidenced by the Best Paint award that the Vendetta received at the Grand National Roadster Show. The paint itself was made by Sherwin Williams’ Planet Color division and is a waterborne product. The color itself is a custom mix and the name comes from the affinity that John and his wife, Dawn, have for Australia. Apparently inspired by the blazing sun of the upside down continent, John dubbed the paint “Down Under Orange”. Actually his personal consultant, Mike Chase, came up with that name. The orange color is set off by the very fine pinstriping of Craig Judd who holds forth in the thriving metropolis of Chowchilla, California, and has more creativity in his little finger than most of us could summon with all of our efforts.
By the way, John tells us that where they visit in rural Australia, you can’t go outside at night without exercising extreme caution because there are so many poisonous snakes about. Now that sounds like a real vacation!
The chassis, completely handmade by Nissen’s, is independently sprung at all four corners, milled, machined and polished to show perfect specs. All of the panels underneath the truck are louvered and completely finished. Once that exceptional effort was done, the now deranged crew in a quest for detail beyond the normal range covered the entire underside with a completely louvered, full bellypan. The truck sports 1,579 non-factory louvers. John bought a louver press just to save money!
The unique styling of the Nissen project called for some outstanding details. The bed wood is a work of art in its own right—please don’t throw any greasy parts back there. Who even knew there were such woods as Quilted Maple and Beechwood Burl? And who would line a truck bed with them? Nissen observes that the handcrafted stainless steel skidrails do make the hay bales slide in and out more easily.
The seats are made by Nissen’s and feature a louvered metal seat pan. Of course, the louvers are impossible to see unless you squeeze your head under the seat itself. The seat brackets are formed to match the many brackets that support the exhaust system underneath the truck. Yes, of course, all that gorgeous metalwork under the truck is completely hidden by the full bellypan.
Lucky passengers connect with soft saddle leather and are expected to not soil the cut and loop wool carpets with their shoes. Sanford’s Custom Upholstery in Anderson, California, stitched the luxurious accommodations. Further cab comforts include Vintage Air climate control and a Nissen-installed Classic Autosound stereo with two matched pairs of speakers. The dashboard, another detail worthy of note, is constructed from two ’51 ford dashes, the driver side from an American car and the passenger side from an Australian righthand drive version. That cool, little heater hails from a ’37 International and houses the slide bar control for the climate system. A 1940 LaSalle gave up the steering wheel and Nissen’s chopped it down to a manageable 15-inch diameter. Peering past the wheel, one sees the Haneline speedo and tach complemented by accessory instruments pirated from a ’58 Chris Craft speedboat. Eyestrain is reduced with the use of tempered glass provided by McCumber’s Glass in Yuba City, California.
The restrained use of chrome on the Vendetta is tasteful and just enough to emphasize the styling of the truck. Advanced Plating and Powder Coating in Nashville, Tennessee, did the exterior chrome, and AAA Plating accomplished the chassis plating in nearby Sacramento, California.
The origin of the name of the truck is not nearly as mysterious as it might seem at first. When one competes in car shows, one is often forced to face the fact that one’s efforts may not always be as appreciated as one would wish. This circumstance can produce an attitude of “one of these days I’ll show them!” It seems that the Nissen crew has indeed succeeded with their efforts at retribution. This Vendetta would make any Mafia Don proud. CCT