FOR a truck that he didn’t really want and didn’t spend much money on, Geelong’s Leon Davies has had a lot of fun with his ’48 Ford F1. “I was bringing in a single spinner from the US,” he says. “The guy bringing it over had some space left in the container and offered to ship another car for me for a killer price. I would have liked a ’50 Chev pickup or something like that, but I found this instead. I reckon they look like a whale shark from the front!”
When Leon go the car it was a farm hack from hell, the engine and gearbox wasn't even bolted down!
As Leon suspected, the engineering on the FI left a little to be desired. “It was on a Chev Blazer chassis. I took it for a drive and it felt a bit loose. When I pulled it down, I found out why [laughs]. The tyres were rubbing on the airbags, the welds looked like they’d been done by a four-year-old, and the engine and gearbox weren’t even bolted in.”
The old chassis was binned and in came a Toyota Hilux
Leon’s solution was to throw the chassis away and start again, using a Hilux as a doner car and converting it to right-hand drive in the process. “The Hilux is rated to one-tonne, so everything is pretty beefy. I used the front end, the fuel tank, the split tailshaft and the diff. They come with four-spot calipers on the front and you can get drop spindles for them, so they’re ideal.”
To get the stance he was after, Leon kicked the chassis up at the back, spliced in a McDonald Bros four-link and fitted it out with Slammed Specialties airbags. “Once I had the chassis done, I sort of built the body over the top to make it sit on the ground.”
Leon drove the car from Melbourne to Queensland for the the Brisbane Hot Rod Show, these truckies approved
All that took about two months, with the rest completed in a whirlwind 16 days to be ready for the Bright Rod Run. “I was able to use the motor and ’box that it came with, so that was pretty good,” says Leon. “The main job with the body was to fix the tray, which was pretty hammered. I beat out the original guards, built new sides for it and etch-primed it. It’s been that way ever since!”
During the trip the car used about $370 worth of fuel and the only issue was ripping off the rear bumper in a gutter
While Leon isn’t a massive fan of shiny cars, he doesn’t see the truck as a rat rod, more of a farm truck – hence the hay bale in the back and the axe spot-welded onto the side. “My brother is a farmer, so I bludged the hay bale off him when I finished the car four years ago and it has stayed put. Makes a good seat for people.”
When you're on the road, this is breakfast. That hay bail has been in the back of the truck since Leon finished the car over four years ago
And people is exactly what a ride like this is all about. The photos for this yarn were taken on a 3200km round trip Leon and SM photographer Chris Thorogood took from Geelong up to the Garterbelts & Gasoline show in Queensland. I met them halfway in my EJ, and damn we had some fun! People from all walks of life are attracted to the truck and respond to it positively, even in the middle of Brisbane’s CBD peak-hour madness, or laid out in front of the casino.
The truck consumed around $370 worth of fuel each way, and the only misfortune suffered during the trip was ripping off the back bumper in a gutter. Not bad for a car that Leon reckons cost around $10,000 to build, including new tyres and glass. “My idea is to just use what you have,” he says. “Don’t worry if it’s got a Ford or a Chev engine in it; if it works, it works.”
Even in the peak of Brisbane's CBD madness, people loved the truck!
And the single spinner that started all of this? “It’s still sitting in the corner, collecting dust,” laughs Leon. “I’ll chop it one day and put some cool paint on it. I’m busy with customer work and I’m a bit preoccupied with my XK sedan delivery. I want something to use as a daily driver and that will be perfect. I’ll put it on the deck, but I’ll keep the six-cylinder running gear. I’ll do something cool with the paint on the roof and it should be a nice car.
The truck and Editor Telfo's EJ were a challenge for the valet parkers at Jupiters Casino
“I’m a Falcon guy at heart. I had an XL Falcon when I was younger that did 1000km a week, it was so reliable and I miss it! I started out paddock bashing an XP when I was a kid, and when it broke dad would just say, ‘Fix it!’ So I started learning to weld, beat panels and paint. I’ve just always loved watching how people do things and soaking it all in. The good thing about metal is that if you get something wrong, you can cut it off, sand it back and try again.”
Leon seems to have to the hang of it now, as anyone who has seen his work will attest! Want some of that action? Contact him during work hours at Big L’s Chop Shop: 0438 513 649.