Built By A Preacher, Owned By A Hot Rodder
Text and Photos by Matt Emery
The price of the vehicle he owns can’t define a true hot rodder, but he can be judged by the enthusiasm he displays for our pastime. Some guys, who have more money than sense, throw hundreds of thousands at top name builders simply so they can say that they own a Foose- or Boyd Coddington-built car. Many times, once the Grand National Show is over, they lose interest and the car languishes in their garage. Randy Palmer of Huntington Beach, CA, is one of those rare breeds of rodders who not only has the cash to own what he wants, he also wants to take his vehicles to shows, both large and small.
Palmer is a collector of fine metal, and has owned everything from multiple 1962 Bubbletops to a meticulously restored 1960 Dodge Power Wagon, even a Ferrari Testarossa. But at heart he is a hot rodder, and for him that means blown engines and flames. This 1940 Ford pickup is one of the latest vehicles Palmer has purchased, and it is everything that he (or we) could ask for in a hot rod. The ironic part is while those who know Palmer know that he has a little of the devil in him, his new ride was literally built by a preacher.
Bruce Suggs (who is an ordained minister) and his crew at Christ First Customs of Fayetteville, NC, built this killer 1940 Ford. They began with a handbuilt steel chassis that features a Scott’s Hot Rods IFS and full Air Ride Technologies suspension. Out back, a polished TCI (Total Cost Involved) 4-link fitted with Air Ride air bags holds aloft the narrowed Ford 9-inch equipped with a Posi-unit and 4:88:1 gears. The stocker was also lacking in braking power, but this truck features 6-piston Wilwood calipers and polished and cross-drilled Wilwood rotors.
Speaking of polished, the wheels adorning the ’40 are one-off BAD (Billet Accessories Direct) Maulers (Front: 18×8-inch, Rear: 20×11-inch). We say “one-offs” as the wheels were not introduced until after the truck was debuted. Mounted on the wheels is a set of Yokohama tires (Front: 215/35 R 18, Rear: 285/30 R 20), which only add to the high-performance handling of the truck.
And with the engine it has, this truck can use all of the handling and brakes it can get. Housed in the engine bay is 355 ci of forced inducted horsepower that was built by NASCAR engine builder Tom Usher of Charlotte, NC. Producing 825 big ones, the 2005 GM mill has been bored stroked and balanced in preparation for the BDS 671 supercharger and twin Holley 600-cfm carburetors. The custom GM aluminum heads and COMP cam combine for a huffer-friendly 8:1 compression ratio. Lighting the fuse is an MSD ignition while a set of custom-built, 3-inch Jet Hot coated headers and polished Flowmaster mufflers point the spent fuel to the outside world. As if the BDS unit didn’t supply enough wow-factor, a chromed Shotgun Bill Blower Scoop (with K&N filter) combines with the Billet valve covers and BDS pulley system to give the Ford that classic look.
Getting that much power to the rear end is no easy feat, so a Ram Performance clutch-equipped Tremec 6-speed transmission was chosen for the job. The CFC crew built a custom driveshaft to connect the dots for the ’40.
Beginning life as an in-house project for Downs Manufacturing, the Downs fiberglass ’40 body received some not normally available tricks such as 2-inch wider rear fenders and Mercedes projection headlights. The Downs’ body features suicide doors, a chopped top and a little channeling to boot. The result is pure rod, and that is before the paint job. When it arrived at the CFC shop they added the Pro’s Pick powered-tonneau cover, block sanded everything and applied the two-stage PPG 9300 Concept Black paint. And while it looked good, it wasn’t until Jim Norris of Sumpter, SC, added the incredibly realistic flames that the ’40 really came alive.
If you are a fan of red, then this interior’s for you. From the custom leather seats to the custom center console and dash to the headliner, red is the overlying theme. Stitched by Jerry Hobgood and Danny Romo of Spring Hope, NC, the seats, door panels and headliner are all Corvette Red leather. Also wearing leather is the custom one-off BAD steering wheel (which matches the exterior wheels – natch). A strip of Dakota Digital instruments runs across the custom dash, while the controls for the Vintage Air and Air Ride Technologies system share space in the center console with the billet floor shifter.
A Ron Francis wiring system gets the juices flowing while the 1,800-watt Kenwood stereo system brings out the headbanger in all who enter.
Palmer, with his ever-present stogie and affable charm embodies the devil-may-care spirit found in all hot rodders. The fact that his latest vehicle was built by a preacher can only act to balance out the hell that Palmer unleashes when his truck hits the shows.