If you’re looking at this truck thinking ‘What the heck is that?’, then you are not alone. The lettering on the tailgate – Puzzled – accurately describes our state of mind the first time we laid eyes on this custom.
We’ve seen plenty of home-built, use what you’ve got rides before, but this one really threw us for a loop. Desperate for answers, we set up camp near the vehicle until we got the opportunity to chat with owner and builder, Randy Defrot.
Randy, who is used to the truck getting its share of stares, was more than willing to give us a rundown on the project. But before he did that, he gave us some insight into its creation. “I had a good cab and started from there” says Randy. “It is a collection of parts I already owned and I added to it as I went.”
The placard on the window listed the truck as a 1926 to 1989, and Randy assures us there are parts from nearly every year in between used in the truck’s construction.
Working With What You’ve Got
The cab and doors, hood, and some of the grill come from an ‘Advanced Design’ (’47-’55) era Chevy truck. The truck was sadly too rusty to traditionally restore by the time Randy got hold of it.
Getting creative, Randy kept the hood and cab unchanged, but narrowed and shortened the grill significantly. Where the standard GM fenders would mount, Randy has made his own louvered filler panels. Ahead of the cab’s factory wheel openings are 1930 Ford Model A fenders.
A bit of an odd choice of fender for a Chevy truck perhaps, but Randy happened to have a surplus of them. “I came across a deal for a lot of them at a swap meet one day and took the whole table of fenders home”, Randy continues: “I had no project in mind for them, but they work here.”
Quite long, the fenders called for the front axle to be set significantly further forward than where a standard Chevy chassis would place it. Conveniently, there wasn’t a factory frame under the truck which made elongating the frontend feasible, but definitely a challenge. Randy built the frame around his vision, and it is actually the first one he has done from start to finish.
Describing the process as rewarding, Randy says his favorite part of the journey was making parts that were never designed to work together to do just that.
The trucks front suspension is donated from an unlikely candidate, a Chevrolet Corvair that Randy had on his property.
After its first season on the road, Randy realized that the turning radius is a bit larger than he would like. To combat this, he plans to replace the Corvair frontend with a more traditional straight axle configuration.
Rework is of course part of the hobby. Therefore, Randy doesn’t at all regret that he has to tear the frontend apart and rethink its execution.
A Face Only A Mother Could Love
Visually, the front of the truck is distinctive, thanks to the previously mentioned narrowed and chopped factory GMC grill. The heavily modified grill is flanked by Ford headlights and complimented by additional fog lights.
The roof ornament comes from a Hudson Terraplane, the hood ornament a ’58 Chrysler, and the trophy is something Randy convinced a friend to part with.
Under the hood is a ’75 Corvette engine. Blinding speed was never the goal for this cruiser so the engine is mostly stock.
Of course, Randy did add a few custom touches, including the finned valve covers and home-made copper fan shroud.
The engine has no problems shuffling Randy’s pickup down the road without so much as a complaint.
The Party Is In The Back
The lettering on the tailgate was designed, cut, and welded by Randy himself. A non-functional tow hook is proudly displayed in the center of the bed.
Many of the components used for this mock tow mechanism come from a discarded corn thresher. Randy found the piece of machinery in the woods while deer hunting. As soon as he saw the parts, the gears started turning in his head, and shortly afterwards what you see below came to life. The hook is mounted to a removable section of the bed floor.
You’ve probably already guess that the bed is custom. The fenders come from a ’53 Dodge and do a great job swallowing the large rear tires. Ahead of the fenders Randy mounted ornate arch pieces from the Fisher building in Detroit.
Panels in the floor provide easy access to the truck’s crucial areas without necessitating the need for the bed to come off. The two hook is also mounted to a removable panel should Randy need to use the bed as a bed.
The inside of the truck is as eclectic as the outside. A ’59 Buick gave its teal and white seat to the project. The colors contrast the flat red exterior exceptionally well.
Randy retained the original heater box that came with the cab. For a bit more personality, he added a custom shift knob. The vehicle’s vitals are conveyed to the driver via a trio of black face gauges.
Randy’s truck throws back to the days where you used what you had and parts couldn’t be ordered with a few keystrokes. It’s a project that sits way outside of the box and challenges the definition of what makes a hot rod.
Puzzled just might leave you perplexed after viewing, but that is the point.