The custom car hobby gets better with age. For many of us, riding in the family car is one of our earliest memories and our automotive-related adventures just keep getting better with time. The day we get our license becomes a landmark event, one that few adults ever forget. It marks the passage into adulthood and it represents a heightened degree of personal freedom, allowing us to explore our world like never before. Darwin Stanfield, a marketing manager and lifelong automotive enthusiast living in Acworth, Georgia, remembers those early days. As a child, he built model cars and progressed into home built hot rods made from scrap wood and wagon wheels. His first real car was a ’57 Ford that his father helped him buy for $300. That car also helped him learn about finance as well since it took the whole summer to pay it off! Lots of cars have been in the garage since but they were not specialty cars designed for the show circuit. Careers, marriage, and family have a way of changing priorities and predictably, hot rods took a backseat to more practical rides. While the desire for a cool custom car never diminished, Darwin wasn’t able to revisit that long-standing dream until his mid-fifties when the children were grown.

The realization finally began with Darwin’s father-in-law, Randall Brooks, an avid car guy who always favored old Fords. Brooks owned a salvage yard and would buy old Blue Ovals on a regular basis. Although his intentions were good, the numbers of vintage rides began to add up and it seemed like he never got around to restoring many of the Fords he purchased. One old truck stood out from the rest of the group, a ’38 Ford pickup. It was not running but the body was fairly rust free. He knew that Darwin was interested in a restoration project and Brooks made him a present of the truck.

In May 2003, Darwin brought the vintage Ford home, parked it in his garage, and started the disassembly process. It took a few years before the project actually got off the ground but in March 2005, Darwin contacted Ted Thomas, owner of T&T Customs in Holly Springs, Georgia. Thomas is a specialist in building and restoring old vehicles and in retrospect, was the perfect man for the job. The original intent was a simple restoration but the project soon took on a life of its own. Rather than retaining 70-year-old technology, the decision was made to replace the existing chassis with a custom version from Fatman. The front suspension uses Mustang II upper and lower control arms and an ECI Big Brake Kit with 11-inch discs. Leaf springs hold the rejuvenated 9-inch Ford drum brake rear. A Flaming River power rack and pinion steering along with Pro-formance Pro coilovers shocks on each corner gave the vintage truck modern handling. Adding good looks along with a fashionable rake are the Billet Specialties Vintec rims, 16-inch versions up front and larger 18-inch units in the rear. Goodyear Eagle LS 55-series rubber gets the power to the ground.

Hot Rod pickup trucks are expected to haul more than groceries so for motive power, Darwin chose a Ford Racing Performance crate motor. The lightweight, high-performance engine was equipped with GT40 aluminum heads, a set of dual quad Edelbrock Thunder Series, 650 cfm carbs on an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake, MSD Pro-Billet electronic ignition, and custom headers feeding a stainless steel exhaust system with twin Flowmasters. The 302 V-8 sends approximately 345 hp to the four-speed Ford AOD automatic transmission. Once the power was firmly in place, cosmetics were next. The engine was loaded with dress-up options that included a pair of 63⁄8-inch ball-milled air cleaners, EnduraShine carbs and manifold, and a polished alternator and compressor. The Billet Specialties Tru Trac Serpentine belt system up front is exquisite enough to qualify as jewelry. Subtle paint touches highlight the T&T-fabricated valve covers and the smooth firewall that hides much of the truck’s wiring. Custom chrome hinges counterbalance the new hood.