As soon as we spotted Sasha Swenneker’s slammed ’69 Dodge pick-up at the Harrigan’s Rod & Custom Show in Calypso Bay, Queensland, we had to know more about the turbocharged Hemi hiding under the bonnet. Sasha was more than happy to give us the lowdown.
First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2022
What sparked your love of cars?
I’ve always had a soft spot for classics. My very first car was a 1963 Ford Falcon XL wagon. It was a full little surf wagon. I put whitewalls on the stock rims and slammed it to the ground, and cruised that for three years until I had to sell it to buy a work ute. I’ve had a love for old white steering wheels and 60s cars since!
How did you come across the pick-up?
I knew I wanted an Aussie stepside, but they’re near impossible to find; most Dodge trucks came out with the factory flatbed for the farmers. I was scouring Gumtree one Friday night and the AT4 popped up at a farm in Esk. I messaged the owner straight away and handed him the money the next day.
What condition was the truck in?
It was a rolling death trap. I drove it 100m up the road before I turned around and called a tow truck! That’s when I realised it needed a complete overhaul
Did you have a plan for the build?
I wanted it airbagged, with a restomod look. I took it to Rob from Rides By Kam and told him I was chasing a smooth cruiser with power on tap that can still spin the wheels. From there, they had the freedom to do what they wanted. The boys cut and notched the rear and boxed the original chassis. They also put in a new nine-inch and a four-ink to handle the power. We ’bagged it all ’round with the 3P AccuAir system, which I can preset to any height or air out when I get to a show.
Tell us about the engine combo.
Rob had a Hemi that he’d just taken out of a Chrysler 300C. We hit it with a performance tune and I drove it like that for two months. I decided it needed more power, so I took it to one of my mates who’s in the drift world. He hand-fabricated a custom turbo system, all the lines and the exhaust.
We thought the paint was a wrap when we first saw it.
It’s real patina! It’s 20 years’ worth of bad paint and sunlight in a chook shed. The chick who owned it did a backyard spray job in 2002. Over time the red paint oxidised through the blue and created this cool contrast of colours. Rob convinced me to let him clearcoat it.
How was Harrigan’s?
It was really good. It was great to see other custom trucks and heaps of variety out there. It’s always a good feeling when you pop the bonnet and everyone stops to look and appreciate the build. I was chuffed to take home an award as well.
Any future projects on the cards?
I’d love to build another Dodge or an International as an open-wheel, F1-inspired rat rod. I want something that’s completely absurd and different! It’s just a matter of finding a truck with the right body shape.