Bobby Green is one of those guys who belongs in a different generation. He was born in the '70s but seems nostalgic for the '40s or '50s. And his interest in traditional hot rodding goes beyond preserving a bygone vehicle style; it's about preserving a bygone lifestyle.
Stepping into his personal shop on a short side street in downtown Burbank, California, is like walking into the past. At any given time, the two adjacent buildings that make up Old Crow Speed Shop will be loaded with as many as a dozen projects going together. Bobby's taste extends from classic trucks to hot rods and race cars-all different but all built authentic to the early days of hot rodding.
Bobby's best-known ride is the "Old Crow" belly tank, a vintage-style streamliner equipped with a Model B four-cylinder engine that has set several land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. It's an amazing car, but not something he can drive around town every day. For that purpose, he built a simpler ride: this Hemi-powered '40 Ford truck.
When Bobby got ahold of the truck a few years ago, the sheetmetal was in the straight condition you see here. The black paint was fading, but with some buffing, Bobby was able to bring out the preserved luster that suits the personality of an old functioning truck. All of the exterior brightwork on the original body is in great condition. He replaced the worn-out bed floor with a panel of beadboard, typically used for home interiors, but put to good use here. An unrestored antique wooden steamer trunk makes a great truck box, and fits perfectly-dimensionally and aesthetically.
In order to keep the period appearance all the way to the pavement, a set of original '40 Ford 16-inch wheels were painted body-color black, with center caps and wide whitewall rubber to provide some contrasting brightness. The rims are rolling on 700-16 and 600-16 Firestone bias-ply tires.
The framerails are factory, but the chassis has been treated to some upgrades. The stock front spindles are connected by a dropped axle to bring down the front of the truck. The axle is suspended by '40 front springs along with a pair of tubular shock absorbers. At the rear, Bobby installed a Chevrolet 12-bolt rearend, set up with 3.33:1 gears. A set of parallel leaf springs and air shocks from Firestone improve the ride. Left and right turns are under the control of a Vega steering box. Stopping is not a problem with IMCA 10-inch discs mounted in the front and Chevy drums at the rear wheels. A custom-made bolt-on tow hitch comes in handy when Bobby feels like bringing along his 1950 Airfloat travel trailer.
Burbank Speed & Machine put together the '54 Dodge Red Ram Hemi that powers Bobby's pickup, packing the cylinders with Ross 10.0:1 pistons. An Offenhauser intake manifold, single Holley four-barrel carburetor, and Mooneyes mushroom chrome air cleaner top the 225-horsepower engine. Hot Heads in North Carolina specializes in early Hemi parts and provided the exhaust manifold for this application. A Chevy 700-R4 transmission was built at Vintage Performance Automotive and adapted to the Hemi.
The best treats are the ones with a surprise inside. That includes this one. Our favorite part of Bobby's '40 is the interior. Like the entire rest of the truck (our second favorite part), the cab is a combination of practical simplicity and really tasteful details. The rubber floor mat is the best example of practicality; the stitched saddle-brown leather upholstery is the best example of great taste.
Dave Martinez at Martinez Industries in Palm Springs (which was called Martinez Custom Upholstery when it was located across the street from Old Crow Speed Shop in Burbank) covered the slightly modified stock bench seat. Leftover leather was used to create the door panel pockets, cover the kick panels, make the windlace molding, and shape a boot for the Gennie floor shifter. The banjo steering wheel is out of a '39 Ford. The dash was kept stock. Bobby modified the factory gauge cluster with VDO instruments and wired the truck using Painless Performance wiring.
While building the '40, Bobby received a lot of help from his friend Logan Davis of Vintage Performance Automotive. Logan shares Bobby's love for period-authentic rides and owns a '40s-style '28 Model A roadster. That car was recently rebuilt by Bobby, Logan, and four-banger master Max Herman. Now running a supercharged Gemsa Model B engine, the roadster has become a companion to the "Old Crow" belly tank at Bonneville. Look for more records to be set on the salt. And on the street, look for Bobby driving this truck.