On a recent trip to a car show we ran across this bad-ass ’29 Ford pickup. We were amazed by the ingenuity that went into building this truck and how straight up cool this rusted street terror was.
We spoke with its owner Mark Carillo and found out the ’29 isn’t your ordinary vintage truck and Mark’s not your run-of-the-mill truck owner. Mark owns a sweet vintage parts store named Grump’s Garage in San Jacinto, California. His wild ’29 is his calling card and serves as a rolling billboard for the shop.
We made the trip to San Jacinto to check out his shop, and he was right, it’s cool. Mark specializes in early Fords, 1928-56, but he has access to any vintage make or model vehicle you might have. He didn’t just have parts, he also carries a huge selection of rockabilly, psychobilly, blues and traditional country music in CD and DVD formats—it was awesome. The shop did have parts galore, though, and it made us want to run out and build a rat rod Ford right away.
Mark has been around cars all of his life and was heavily influence by his dad Jerry, who had his first car, a full custom-built ’53 Ford Victoria, featured in the October 1954 issue of Car Craft Magazine. We asked Mark about the name of his shop, Grump’s Garage, and he laughed and told us that he used to work at a hot rod shop in Orange County, California, and would commute everyday from San Jacinto (75 miles one-way). Mark went on to say that after sitting in traffic for hours, dodging inept drivers and watching his gas gauge go down, he got grumpy. Which we find interesting because Mark doesn’t seem grumpy at all; in fact, his positive attitude was what inspired him to build his fabulous Ford truck.
Mark wanted his truck to represent what he sells at his shop and serve as a cool ride when he hits the many car shows around SoCal. He wanted to create a ’40s-style truck reminiscent of a service vehicle from that era.
The wheels are authentic 1936-39 Ford five-lugs shod with Coker Firestone military tires. The huge exhaust stacks coming out of the rear of the cab are also military style. The engine is a 1965 Mustang 200 straight-six and cranks enough horsepower to propel this vintage Ford down the freeway at a higher rate of speed than it did in 1929.
Opening the door on this phenomenal Ford exposes a slightly rusted and worn cockpit. Mark installed some tattered boat seats covered with a couple of Mexican serapes for that south-of-the-border look and feel. But the casual décor doesn’t stop there, if you look closely at the shifter, you’ll see that it’s a pair of tin snips. What else would a car dude use to shift his tranny? The shifter might seem confusing at first, but it’s innovative and simple. The right handle operates first gear and reverse and the left one is second and third; in other words, it’s an early ’60s three on the tree, and now it’s planted on the floor. Mark airbagged the suspension, and like everything else in the truck, it’s not the usual box with toggle switches. Instead, he used a single compressor and ’bagged the rear. To operate the system, Mark uses an air nozzle to release the air in the ’bags and a separate handle to inflate them. The entire setup is mounted inside the cab between the seats for easy access.
Don’t forget that Mark deals in vintage parts, so for you’re enjoyment, check out the following list of the parts he used to build this bad boy. The radiator shell is from a 1928-29 Ford, the hood is a 1930 Packard, the doors came from a 1930-31 Ford pickup, and the top of the cab came from a 1930 five-window Ford coupe. But Mark is an equal opportunity builder; he knows what works and it didn’t all have to be Ford built.
You hardcore Ford fans might have noticed that the cab is stretched. To give it an extended cab look, Mark used 1953 Chevrolet car doors turned sideways and a 1986 Nissan pickup hood to form the back of the cab. He used another Chevy part too; this time a bed from a 1954 pickup was shortened and narrowed and finished off with a 1936 Ford tailgate.
We know that Mark is an avid American-built-only car dude—no foreign crap for him—but as we said earlier, he knows what works. You’ll note that there are no brakes visible on the truck, that’s because there aren’t any. We wondered if Mark was Fred Flintstoning his truck to a stop, but we found out that he was way ahead of the stone age troglodytes and used a 1999 Toyota Landcruiser rotor and caliper, installed at the rear of the driveline, as the only brake on the entire vehicle. And guess what? It works.
Mark’s second love, and also a big part of his business, is music, and what better way than to honor his musical roots than a tribute to the late great Hank Williams. Mark had this depiction of the 1949 Grand Ol’ Opry concert etched into the bed. It almost looks factory.
The next time you’re in Riverside County, California, and close to San Jacinto, and you see a furious, chopped-top ’29 Ford rumbling down the road, it just might be Mark Carillo heading to Grump’s Garage or his monthly anger management class.
A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2014 print issue of Maximum Drive