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.
So subtle that you might miss it, this ’38 Ford pickup sports a ’40 Ford sedan front end.
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.
Keeping the lineage true, this Ford pickup runs a 302 Ford Racing Performance crate motor,
The original bed couldn’t be saved but the all-steel Pro’s Pick bed gets the job done nice
And the hood is not the only thing new. One of the major changes that occurred during the buildup was an entirely new front end. Darwin never cared for the ’38 nose but always loved the ’40 version, having owned a ’40 Ford coupe in the past. The team at T&T located a ’40 Ford donor sedan and, with a considerable amount of metal fabrication, they grafted the ’40 sheet metal to the ’38 cab. Look closely and you will see the unique blending of the three style ridges in the ’38 cab and how they flow smoothly into the ’40 hood. Each of the ridges ends in a subtle scallop, a design element that was repeated in the edges of the split front bumpers and the single rear bumper. Rounding out the body mods is the new Pro’s Pick, all steel bed, complete with oak slats, stainless steel strips, and smooth tailgate. A polished aluminum gas filler cap in the bed floor makes it easy to fill the T&T-fabricated, stainless steel, 14-gallon fuel cell, positioned underneath. The bed is enclosed with a Pro’s Pick tonneau cover that raises and lowers, thanks to a pair of linear actuators. The bed sports a smoothed tailgate and the rear pan has cutouts for the twin pipes. Darwin chose ’40 Ford car taillights for the ’38 rear fenders, adding Billet Specialties Oblique side mirrors for the perfect vintage touch.
Lots of updates occurred inside, beginning with Lizard Skin sound deadening material, applied to every inch of the cab. The custom-built bench seat, upholstered in tan leather, was stitched by the team at M&M Interiors in Holly Pond, Alabama. They also added the matching door panels and square weave carpet, reinforcing the air of luxury inside the vintage cab. The dash was equipped with a pair of Haneline 5-inch gauges with a large tach and speedo along with the smaller instruments positioned inside. Keeping the driver in close touch with his ride are the Billet Specialties, burl wood Banjo steering wheel and the elegant Lokar Oval pedals. T&T fabricated a sheet metal center console to hold the controls for the Vintage Mini Gen II air-conditioning and the Pioneer DEH-P4800 CD/MP3 player. The combination keeps the cab cool and the music hot. Twin 6.25-inch component sets are mounted inside the console, two more in the kick panels, and a final set of 4-inch coaxials reside in the headliner to surround passengers with sound. Clear glass is a must and a one-piece Vintage tinted windshield replaced the original, complete with Specialty Power’s Dual Wipe intermittent wipers and their power side windows.
The finishing touch was paint, with Ricky White of T&T spraying a combination of PPG Mystic Gold over PPG Brownish Orange, separated by bright orange pinstripes. Subtle graphics highlight the tailgate and proclaim the dual lineage of this ’38/’40 Ford. The graphics on the back window are a tribute to Darwin’s father-in-law, “Dedicated to the Memory of Pap-Paw Brooks.” Darwin is very pleased now that the 3½ year project is complete. He and his wife Mary Ann have become regulars on the show circuit and the truck has taken dozens of awards over the last few years. While trophies are fun, Darwin says the best part is meeting so many wonderful people associated with the hobby. CCT
The split front bumpers and the single rear bumper follow the scallop theme established wh
More luxurious than Henry ever dreamed of, this vintage Ford boasts a a custom leather ben