Hand-built 1941 Chevrolet pick-up

Shane Dale put hundreds of hours into building his stunning '41 Chevy pick-up

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Shane Dale got well and truly hands-on with the build of his ’41 Chevy pick-up

This article on Shane’s pick-up was originally published in issue no.18 of the Street Machine Hot Rod magazine

SHANE Dale is a can-do sort of bloke. He will lend his hand to almost anything and usually do a pretty good job of it. I should know; Shane is my hubby.

Hand-fabricated from a single flat piece of 1mm sheet metal, the ’33 Chev-style grille has a more pointed ’34 Ford lower panel. The slats are folded stainless with a stainless surround. To keep from having faux hood rods, Shane made the fan shroud slip into the grille shell, providing strength in the design

Now this pick-up isn’t Shane’s first rodeo. This is actually the second ride he’s had featured in Street Machine, the first being his street-legal, 502ci big-block Chev-powered Sandman pano (SM, Apr ’07). So how did he go from a big-bodied, big-cubed Aussie car to a little SBC-powered ’41 Chev pick-up?

Shane sourced a Chrysler Centura diff, hoping to get away with something that was strong enough while saving a few bucks. “By the time I had the diff straightened, the centre built and two sets of axles made – because of a stuff-up – I may as well have gone with a 9in or similar,” he says

“I wanted to build a cheap hot rod, and it couldn’t be ’glass or someone else’s old ride,” Shane says. “I’d be adding to the rod community with something different, so I chose a pick-up, as I’d never owned one.”

Rod Hadfield’s Cadillac Flathead V8-powered 1935 Ford truck

As with most rod builds, Shane spent several years sourcing parts before breaking ground. We managed a trip to the States early on – during the heady days of the Aussie dollar fetching US$1.10 – which allowed us to quickly gather a heap of goodies while saving us a bit of coin. Yet all of the big stuff was found locally in South Australia. “I bought the cab from Dudley’s place, a well-known old-school wrecking yard in the Barossa Valley,” Shane says. “Later, I found old paperwork in the glovebox showing that it was previously a 2.5-ton Maple Leaf truck used as a grape and wine hauler, last regoed in ’61!”

Shane handmade most of the brackets, purely because nothing off the shelf would’ve fit anyway. He’d spend days in the shed creating a bracket only for it not to work as needed, so he’d have to start again from scratch

But it’s a far cry from that now. “To fit my six-foot-two frame, I lengthened the cab three inches overall. For fun, I chopped it five inches, sectioned it an inch and channelled it two inches.”

After 40 years of paddock time, the dreaded tinworm had taken the floor and rear 11 inches of the cab. Once Shane started cutting, the body was whittled down to six pieces sitting awkwardly on the shed floor. But rebuilding from so little allowed him to start from a solid, squared-up base. From there Shane created the roof infill panel before fashioning longer doors and ‘suiciding’ them. Part of the overall cab lengthening was nabbing an extra half-inch via a new firewall, while the fresh cowl panels eliminated the side vents and created a cleaner bodyline. Below, the custom sill panels mimic a 40s Ford pick-up, flowing cleanly towards the front before rounding straight up to the firewall. They perfectly frame the hairpins and visually drop the cab to the weeds.

Shane handmade the bench seat then stitched the blood-red vinyl tuck ’n’ roll to it. He’s added matching trim to the firewall and finished the rest in blood-red carpet. Gauges are minimal, inset into a hand-formed V8 dash. An XL Ford tiller provides a complementary splash of white

While it sounds straightforward enough, Shane put hundreds of hours into the metalwork and each creation was well thought through to keep alignment and aesthetics clean. Have a look at the tray to the cab; see that the top of the tray lines up with the door bodyline? That’s not an accident.

Shane’s added an Art Deco-inspired header panel featuring a red interior light. “I heard that back in the 50s they’d cruise with a red light to show they got lucky that night,” he laughs

And that tray is 100 per cent Shane-made. He built the tooling to create single-piece sides, which include the roll – no welded-on pipe or RHS here. As for the tailgate, Shane bead-rolled most of the lettering, then hand-formed the remainder for a bespoke finish. The stainless tray floor is ribbed and hinged to allow access to the battery, undercarriage and a small tool compartment. Poke your head around the other side of the tray and you’ll notice minimalist steel cycle guards rounding out all four corners; Shane fabricates these and sells them to hot rodders Australia-wide.

But for me, it’s the grille shell that’s the heart of this car. It’s completely hand-fabricated from a single flat piece of 1mm sheet metal. Shane borrowed our mate Richard’s ’33 Chev grille for a template, then set about creating his own version. Sure, he could’ve bought one, but where’s the fun in that?

I’ve only really skimmed the surface of the metal artistry, but I’m sure you’re keen to know what makes this thing move. Up front, we ended up swapping the 307 Chev that the project was built around for a 350. The tough little 350-cuber was a runner in my own build and surplus to my needs, so we reckoned it was the perfect powerplant for Shane’s. All the bolt-ons were swapped to the larger-cubed donk, including the 3×2 Edelbrock manifold with Stromberg 97s. We’re not exactly sure of the internals other than high-comp pistons and an Isky cam. Behind is a stout TH350 that can chuck out second-gear chirpies, and a 3000-ish stall.

Underneath is full of parts from a range of Aussie and Yank manufacturers, plus some Shane specials. At the pointy end is a locally produced Rod-Tech disc-brake front-end with a So-Cal four-inch dropped I-beam and hairpins sporting a reverse-eye transverse spring. At the back he opted for a Rod-Tech four-link bolted to a Chrysler Centura diff packed with 3.45s, four-pinion LSD and 28-spline Commodore axles with VS Commodore disc brakes. It rolls on 16×6 Street Wires wrapped in Firestone whitewalls, with the wires colour-coded to the interior.

Speaking of which, the cabin styling is subtle, so as not to detract from the eye-catching exterior. That’s not to diminish the amount of work that’s also gone on in here though. Shane was again the master craftsman in this department, hand-making the bench seat and interior panels from scratch then trimming the entire cab. The tuck ’n’ roll looks the part in blood-red vinyl, with the pleats continuing onto the firewall. Look up and it is all metal, showing off the sheer amount of work that Shane’s put in. It’s not double-skinned either; that’s the same sheet metal inside as out.

Externally we felt that the pick-up warranted staying in bare metal given how much hand-fabrication went into it, but in the end Shane settled on the closest thing to it, a custom matte grey. He then set about prepping it and laying the colour when the coldest months actually provided a decent enough day. The whole shooting match was painted in our carport then baked in the shed with a gas heater – and while Shane has some paint cred to his name, playing to the conditions was tricky.

As the build neared completion, Shane aimed for a Chopped 2016 debut. It was a hard slog to not only get it finished but also pass registration and have it ready to drive the 1600km maiden voyage – all while towing our Shane-made teardrop trailer.

“It was amazing to pass rego first go then hop into something I’ve just built and trust it to get us to Victoria and back,” Shane says. “Every noise would have me wondering if something was wrong and I had one eye on the gauges the whole way, though it was a great way to get to know the car. It had no problems, apart from a bit of water in the fuel from the flooding rain. We’ve nicknamed it the Rain Maker!

“Now I’m just driving the wheels off of it,” he continues. “We’ve recently returned from the Boogaloo Invitational, and we’re hoping to get to a lot more shows to promote my business, Deluxe Metal Shaping Co, so you’ll probably see the pick-up around.”

Meanwhile, Shane’s already planning his next build: “I’ve never owned a roadster, so after Carly’s finished building her Hemi-powered, lakes-style steel ’34 Ford three-window, I’ll be straight into my Weesner-drawing-inspired ’31 Ford roadster with ’32 shell.”


Paint: Custom matte grey

Donk: 350 Chev
Induction: Edelbrock 3×2 Stromberg 97 carbs
Cam: Isky
Water pump: Zips riser with 1950 Chev 6-cylinder pump
Ignition: Engine Works dizzy, MSD Blaster coil
Cooling: Mechanical fan with eBay special radiator
Exhaust: Tru-Ram cast stainless extractors, hand-fabbed twin 2in exhaust, Smithy’s mufflers

Gearbox: TH350
Converter: 3000rpm
Diff: Chrysler Centura, 3.45 gears, 4-pinion LSD, 28-spline Commodore axles

Springs: 47in So-Cal I-beam, Rod-Tech hairpins, reverse-eye ’46 Ford spring (f); Rod-Tech 4-bar (r)
Shocks: Rod-Tech polished stainless (f), HR Holden (r)
Steering: HQ box
Brakes: Rod-Tech XF Falcon rotors and VS Commodore calipers (f), VS Commodore calipers and rotors (r)

Rubber: Firestone Deluxe Champion; 16×6.00 (f), 16×6.50 (r)
Rims: Roadster Wire Wheels 16×6 (f & r)

Wheel: XL Falcon
Gauges: Mooneyes Ultimate and four-in-one
Seat: Hand-made bench