A New Generation Brings Energy and Creativity to the Street Rodding Hobby – Restoration of a 1950 Dodge Pickup Truck
As the Baby Boomer Generation continues to age, some question the future of the Street Rodding hobby. Boomers take note; the “30-something”, Generation X, young adults will engage and pay close attention to the collector car hobby when the experience can become a father and son project.
Take the example of Tom (father) and Josh Sahrmann (son). Josh is a young adult, who has been learning and studying the collector car market with his father. The Sahrmann’s watch and attend the Barrett-Jackson and Mecum auctions, religiously study Hemmings Motor News, have traditionally attended national Goodguys and NSRA events as well as local car shows; in an effort become educated into the collector car hobby.
Rather than purchase a fully restored pickup truck, Josh focused on finding a high value unrestored pickup truck for this first restoration project. Josh initially narrowed his attention to 1948 through 1956 Ford and Chevy pickup trucks.
Hidden among the dozen or more Ford and Chevy pickup trucks at April 2015 Mecum Auction in Houston, Josh found a 1950 Dodge B Model Pilot House Pickup Truck from Oregon. The truck had its original inline six-cylinder, 90 horsepower gasoline engine and a manual, floor shift transmission. The frame and all original steel body were in remarkably good condition with very little evidence of damage or rust. However, it was obvious the truck needed a major restoration in order to be road worthy and to meet modern highway safety standards as a daily driver.
From the Mecum auction floor, the Sahrmann’s called a well-known Maine restorer of classic cars, for additional last-minute advice and guidance on evaluating the Dodge Pickup prior to winning the auction bid.
Sufficient time was then spent evaluating the truck before starting a frame-off restoration. After discovering fit issues with modern Dodge engines and transmissions, the decision was made to source a 2005 Chevy Silverado LS, L33, 5.3L Vortec engine, coupled with a 4L60E transmission and a Chevy C-10 positraction, rear end.
After dry fitting the LS engine, transmission and a C-10 read end to the bare frame, welders were engaged to “box” the Dodge pickup frame, front and rear, in order to provide extra strength and support for the Chevrolet drive train.
The front leaf spring suspension and steering mechanism were replaced with a factory engineered Heidts suspension with a rack and pinion steering unit and Chevrolet disc-brakes. The rear leaf spring suspension was removed and replaced with customized coil-over spring / shock absorber units. To the C-10 rear axle, a custom heavy duty four-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar was welded.
Red Barn Classics, of Buxton, Maine; then removed the cab and all body panels before body work, fabrication and priming efforts were started. The underside of the cab, interiors of all fender wells and the running boards were sprayed with a Rhino Liner bed liner material. Josh then selected a PPG based 2016 Porsche Guards Red (#84 A) paint color for the pickup.
The body panels were installed, measured, fitted, refitted and reinstalled numerous times by Red Barn Classics, resulting in a near perfect, “better than new”, fit.
Prior to painting, Red Barn Classics expertly managed the body work and fabrication changes to the cab which included rust and body damage remediation, elimination of the door wing windows in favor of a single electrically operated door glass, elimination of the cowl vent, rust repair in the bottoms of the two cab doors and installation of bed tubs, for “fat” tires, from Dan Carpenter Specialties. A new steel dash panel was fabricated for the art deco inspired instruments sourced from New Vintage USA’s Woodward series of classic instruments and for installation of a Kenwood Bluetooth stereo system. The unanimous choice for heater and air conditioner was a unit provided by Vintage Air.
Once the painted cab and body panels were reinstalled, the final assembly work proceeded at a rapid pace. Installation included the wiring harness, a new 12-volt electrical system, EFI censors, a new 16-gallon tail mounted gas tank, dash instruments, Kenwood stereo, an ididit tilt steering column with a Billet Specialties 15.5 inch Banjo steering wheel, a new windshield wiper assembly, the Vintage Air heater and air conditioning unit, and LED taillights.
After the ground up rebuild of the engine, the transmission and custom drive shaft were installed. Stainless brake lines, new Chevrolet disc-brakes, brake booster, a pair of Corvette powder coated exhaust headers, a Magnaflow exhaust system, a Holly Sniper EFI Intake manifold, all new engine accessories, a Gallo Technologies keyless push button start and parking brake system, and a new high capacity Superior Radiator with an electric fan system were then installed onto the Pickup.
Final assembly included the re-chromed front grill panels, the “Dodge” badging, both re-chromed bumpers, head lights, taillights, a K&N cold air intake routed to the right front inner fender and the illuminated rear license plate bracket. Portland Glass provided new safety window glass for the cab. Steele Rubber provided all new rubber weatherproofing for doors, windows and cab seals. Bruce Horkey’s Wood and Parts for Pickups provided the bed wood and the red oak triple step rack.
ShieldCo Art of Frederick, Maryland created the artwork and manufactured the “Dodge Brothers, Detroit, USA” signage for the bed rack, from a photo submitted of a hood ornament of a 1936 Chrysler cabriolet, which photo was taken at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Keeping with a traditional street rod look, 15-inch Mickey Thompson tires were mounted on classic 1960’s Cragar Super Sport rims provided by Archie’s Off Road and Performance Center, Wells, Maine.
The interior upholstery was missing other than the original bench seat which needed restoration. Junior’s Upholstery, of Concore, Texas, provided the expert upholstery work which included upholstery of the leather bench seat, leather door panels, bound floor carpeting, an accented head liner and cab dome lighting.
American Muscle Autobody and Restoration of Montgomery, Texas, provided invaluable support for road testing, installation of a classic looking Lokar Performance Products floor mounted transmission shifter, engine tuning, and expert technical support for completion of the final punch list items.
The restoration project required nearly five years to complete, with extensive planning, hundreds of decision points throughout the restoration, requiring highly skilled metal fabrication and collaboration with the terrific restoration teams at Red Barn Classics and American Muscle.
Josh’s 1950 Dodge Pickup Truck is now on the road as a modern street rod while still maintaining the essence of classic pickup truck.
At a car show near you, look for a sparkling, bright red 1950 Dodge Pickup Truck displaying a classic “Dodge Brothers” inspired logo, mounted on the bed wood rack. Stop by and share your restoration experience.