Back Alley

October 22nd, 2011

Text and Photos by Jason Mulligan

Owner: Mike Partyka Jr.; 1931 Ford Model A Pickup; Fruita, CO

Rust and Grime and Everything Nice

A couple years back we featured Mike Partyka’s previous build, a chopped, sectioned and ‘bagged ’79 Datsun 620 Bulletside in our “Blood, Sweat & Gears” section. The radical mini caught a lot of attention on the show circuit. But Mike has always had a soft spot for old school hardcore hot rod power and looked to build a Model A car or truck. He traded straight across for this ‘31 Ford Model A pickup and set out to build a raw hot rod with plenty of power that everyone could appreciate and enjoy young or old.

Mike left the truck cab in the condition he received it. After all, the truck has more than 80 years of history on it. Of course, he applied the usual custom traits in the form of an 8-inch chopped top with glass cut by Glass Pros, a 6-inch channel and a 4-inch section to give the truck a low profile and get it flat on the ground. A set of 1932 Ford frame horns were used and joined to a custom tube back half over a 1972 El Camino rearend with a Eaton limited slip at a 3.42 gear ratio and Yukon axles. The rear cross member acts as the air tank to supply the AirLift Dominator airbags mounted off of the custom 4-link and Watt’s link setup. Up front, the split wishbone straight axle suspension was Z’d 6 inches and finds its ups and downs thanks to a ShockWave 7000. For stopping, So-Cal Speed Shop disc brakes were added with a Mr. Roadster master cylinder and custom brake lines bent up by Willie Davis. Rather than going the traditional route with old school wheels and white walls. Mike wanted to change things up a bit and got black bonspeed Clutch wheels in 20- and 22-inch sizes along with Nitto NT555 245/35R20 and 285/35R22 tires. An 8-gallon gas tank fits under the cowl to take care of the thirsty motors needs.

And thirsty is the 1974 big-block Chevy motor that was machined out to 463-ci by Vance at Top End Performance before being assembled by Big Willie’s Garage with an Eagle crankshaft and I-beam rods. Speed Pro pistons, .040 over, Speed Pro pistons were used along with a COMP Cams hydraulic roller camshaft and Melling high volume oil pump. For the top end, the iron heads were used but ported with COMP Cams lifters, pushrods and ARP Racing bolts. Topping it all off is an Inglese eight-stack manifold and four dual Weber carbs put together by Chuck. An MSD Digital E-Curve distributor and Blaster coil were used with MSD wires. Willie custom built the straight headers to expel the gases. When all was said and done, the motor put out a massive 540 hp and nearly 600 ft-lbs of torque. With the small and light truck cab, this hot rod really screams! To cool it down, a Speedway Motors aluminum radiator and Flex-A-Lite electric fans were used. Black powder coat flew over the finned valve covers and Billet Specialties pulleys to keep things classy and match the billet wheels. A 1960s Powerglide transmission and Street Fighter torque converter were worked over by Mark at Baker Transmissions before it was connected to a custom driveshaft from Driveline Service. For shifting purposes Mike uses a suicide-style tractor handle.

Aside from the insane low profile and massive amount of power, the detail work is also what sets this truck apart. Cadillac ’59 taillights were mounted to the rear of the chopped cab, and Gigi Hawks striped the transmission. Bass boat seats covered in gator print were stitched up by Duncan & Sons. The only gauge is an oil pressure gauge mounted atop the engine. The air ride is controlled via pull chains on manual trucker valves with copper lines for a vintage look. Mike built a partial roll cage to keep things straight as an arrow. Jeff Bates at Bonehead Customz added a metal skull and dream catcher inside the cab. Mike looks at the project as a radical, raw expression of power and hot rodding history that couldn’t be completed without the help of Willie Davis, Oshay Foster, Jeff Bates and Donovan Otero.

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