Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						47 Ford Rat 15
Half-Rat ’47 Ford Pickup

Modified 1947 Ford pickup on BringaTrailer.com

By Dean Larson

Photos: Jeff Bruss

It takes a special sort of eye to see the possibilities in a pile of parts that remains when someone else’s project fails to reach completion. Most times you never really know what you’re getting into, especially when the previous owner may no longer be around to tell you what’s what on delivery. That’s exactly the situation our man Jeff Bruss found himself in when he found a deal on a modified ’47 Ford pickup project on Craigslist that belonged to an older gentleman who had passed away. Undeterred, he spent the next three years transforming a trailer load of parts into a half-rat pickup that makes no apologies. See it here on BringaTrailer.com.

Ford’s truck line had been through several design iterations by the time the “jail bar grille” trucks came out in 1942, but they’re still considered early trucks, as the first F-series trucks didn’t debut until 1948. In these early years, trucks were more closely related to the car line, but were making huge strides with customers thanks to Ford’s flathead V8 engines. The telltale jail bar grille on ’42 through ’47 models is stylish in a utilitarian sense, but all too often seems to have one or two teeth knocked out.

But Jeff’s truck wasn’t exactly a farm field relic with missing teeth when he picked it up. Instead, a previous owner had gotten things off on the right track, having considerable modifications done to the sheet metal, including chopping and stretching the cab, as well as replacing the jail bar grille with a ’47 Ford coupe grille section. The chassis was refinished, boxed in and converted to coilover suspension up front, and it rolled on four sad-looking alloys from the early ’90s. A fresh looking 302 ci crate engine and used Ford C4 transmission were included in the deal as well, a fine start indeed, but still nothing more than a trailer full of parts.

Jeff spent the next few years with one and a half ’47 Ford trucks scattered around his shop, slowly transforming the truck into what it is today. The cab, running boards and front clip were drug out into the driveway for a coat of single-stage satin brown, which looks near black most times, but takes on a new shade in the sunlight. Gloss trim accents the paintwork on the hood and a pair of LED headlights were added for an even more unique look. The truck did not come with a bed however, and several ideas were tossed around for a flatbed treatment. But sometimes the answers to these questions come out of nowhere, and in this instance, it was a ’47 Ford parts truck that came up on Craigslist that was too cheap to pass up.

The donor bed had great patina, but was far from perfect in terms of corrosion, and was far too long given Jeff’s modified frame and stretched cab. So Jeff shortened the bed a few inches by removing a section between the wheelwell and the front of the box, welding the front section back on and dressing the welds with simulated stitches — fitting for a major organ transplant. The inside of the bed was refinished with oak planks with steel slats and a fuel tank was sourced from an old generator and secured with a custom hold down. The rest of the truck’s exterior character comes courtesy of steel dually wheels with adaptors and a pair of header-wrapped stacks in the bed.

Enter the stretched cab through the suicide doors and you’ll find other unique features as well. The whole cab is trimmed in a paisley vinyl fabric with brass fasteners throughout. Most notable is the fire hose seat though, a custom piece built with a steel frame and legit old fire hose. In Jeff’s own words, “The seat is ass heaven. Like your favorite broken in lawn chair with a bottomless Leinie’s Summer Shandy right next to it.” Other custom touches in the interior consist of railroad-spike door handles, custom leather door pulls, hand-stamped copper labels for the switches, AutoMeter gauges and a B&M ratchet shifter.

With the 302 ci small-block free breathing through the stacks and a pair of steampunk goggles on his face, Jeff remarks that driving the glassless ’47 Ford is like driving a four-wheeled Harley Davidson. Beyond the absence of a windshield, Jeff notes a transmission leak and a few other odds and ends will need attention at some point — he’s really taking the Harley reference literally.

Like most of us, Jeff finds the most joy in building and solving new problems, and as such, he’s ready to move the ’47 Ford to focus on other old trucks hogging his garage space. Find the half-rat ’47 Ford selling at no reserve here on BringaTrailer.com.

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