Alex Kruk fondly remembers watching his father manhandle the family’s two ’61 AMC Ramblers out in the driveway when he was a young impressionable kid. “My dad was pretty mechanically inclined, and if you know anything about these cars, you know your hands were always dirty just trying to keep them running.” It was about that same time, when he was just turning double digits in age, when he realized just like his dad, he too was hooked on cars. Before he knew it, his hands were just as dirty helping his dad keep the head gaskets intact on the feisty flathead AMC’s.
To add fuel to the already smoldering fire, the family across the street from Alex had five motorhead boys, all of them growing up during the muscle car wars of the late ’60s. The wildest son Ronnie had a ton of hot rods and fast rides, and that left an indelible impression on the younger neighbor Alex. A ’55 Chevy gasser, a ’64 tri-power GTO, and a ’57 tri-power Bonneville all spent time in the driveway across the street, and pushed Alex into getting a muscular ride to call his own.
When Alex turned 18, he purchased his first cool car to flog around town, a bone stock ’69 327 Camaro, which he wishes he never got rid of (join the club). From there, it was no turning back, he went on to grab a sweet ’71 Gran Prix. A few years later, Alex married his high school sweetheart Mary. Together they bought a 440 Charger, which Mary consistently terrorized the local streets of Westbury, Long Island, with. She just loved having all that power on hand, and craved the Mopar’s aggressive looks and coke bottle styling as well.
Fast forward a few more years, Alex and Mary started a family, and developed a business. For the time being, the hot rods were set aside while he tended to the everyday chores of keeping a family on its feet and keeping the business running strong. However, once he got a little bit ahead in this game called life, he bought himself a toy … a ’72 454 Vette, a car he still proudly owns today. But it didn’t stop there for Alex; no way. Back when he was 13 or 14 years old, his good friend Bob’s older brother had a pale yellow ’57 Nomad, which he took an interest in. This was a ride that Alex just had to have. It took a while to find one he could rebuild, but after an exhaustive search, one was located out in Illinois. It was a real project, but Alex quickly turned it into a bona fied head turner.
But then, in early 2005, Alex got another itch for a cool ride, thinking maybe an old school Rat Rod would be a neat project. So he scoured the Internet looking for a likely candidate, and found one to his liking in Kansas … a beat-up but dry ’51 Chevy 3100. Once shipped back east, Alex immediately started the tear-down process on the old beater. After adding a Fatman chassis and picking up a new ZZ4 crate motor, he realized this was not going to be any kind of Rat ride. At that point, the project was turned over to Richie Herman at L & L Auto Restoration LTD in Glen Cove, New York, for a complete ground up buildup.
Once Richie received the truck at L & L, the chassis and its components were completely torn down, and the project was started from scratch. Being a body man by trade, he first started off by mocking up the completed ride, checking fit and fitment of the trucks main components on the Fatman frame. From the original ’51, only the cab, front fenders, and hood were saved. Richie was then on the lookout for other vitals, scoring some fresh doors from a junkyard, and then buying a brand-new aftermarket bed for the rear of the truck. After the bed was secured, Richie went out to make a set of custom tubs, just so he could get some big time wheels and rubber out back in the near future.