The TownRocket

1939 GMC Custom

Tucci’s intuition told him that in order to create a crisp new look he would have to use the right, large-diameter wheels for this project. He ordered up a set of Colorado Custom billet wheels, 17-inch up front and 20-inch for the rear. To cap these, he chose a set of Goodyear run-flat tires that have taller sidewalls than the regular tubeless 20-inch tires. This combination gave the wheel package a little more size and a slightly beefier look.

With the wheels and tires mounted up, the crew at Tucci Engineering set about mocking up the truck. They disassembled the whole rig and discarded the frame, suspension and running gear. They sliced six inches out of the roof, leaving the rear window at its stock size, and converted the doors into hardtop-style doors by cutting off the tops and welding them into the door openings so the doors open without the window frame. They also converted the doors to suicide mounts using a Rocky’s hinge-conversion kit.

Without a frame the team started assembling the body for position on a wooden framework. On the original, the grille stuck way out and was very upright. They kept repositioning the front-end pieces and leaning back the grille so it eventually came even with the tips of the fenders for a sleek, angled tilt.



The rear bed was all new fabrication done in cardboard at first. Tucci’s crew moved the fenders seven inches up and made them longer to eliminate the filler panel between the cab and the running boards. To add length to the bodyline, the fenders were stretched out into long tapers, giving the truck a very swoopy exit line to the rear and covering the huge 20-inch wheels.

At this stage the truck still did not have a frame. Dave took some photos and sent them to Fred Burrows who instantly gave the fresh design a thumbs-up. Tucci then took measurements for the frame using the wheels to determine suspension positioning. Dave wanted the lowest point of the frame to be under the cab so the truck had a channeled look. He achieved this stance, without the need to channel the floor, by dropping the frame six inches under the cab, which meant he could retain much more interior space.

This design allowed for every piece of the drivetrain and exhaust to be located above the lowest point of the frame. The frame has a pair of custom mandrel-bent 2 X 4-inch Art Morrison mainrails, with the rest of the members fabricated at Tucci Engineering. This included the custom independent front suspension with an air ride suspension, a narrowed Flaming River steering rack and a Ford 9-inch rear axle, supported by an Art Morrison four-link and air-ride springs.

While Dave was fabricating the frame, Gary Brown, a Tucci employee, worked on the body. This included: finding new sheetmetal for the front fenders, which were narrowed ten inches; creating a one-piece hood with a peak; and reforming the two-piece grille into a single piece. He also added Plymouth Prowler headlights, which look just perfect on the nose of the truck, along with a Prowler dash to the interior.

Next came the inner bed structure, the fenders and the rear section with its huge exhaust opening built out of a 1954 Pontiac grille, and a pair of 1957 Cadillac dagmar bumperettes. The line of the rear fenders was stretched even further so that the tips of the fenders stretched out to line up with the tips of the Cadillac dagmars. The also created a set of tapered running boards and fixed a lot of cab and door rust along the way.

Once the frame and body work were done (which took only three months), both were shipped out to State Bridge Collision in Durhamville, New York, where Doug and Bruce put in 600 hours making it right and painting it Organic Green, a House of Kolors Candy finish.

It went back to the shop where the team assembled the frame, fitting the fuel injected 406 cubic inch Bowtie Block, the 󈨛 700R4 automatic transmission, the Griffin aluminum radiator and the custom driveshaft.

The engine was built by Boyd’s Motor Works with fully balanced and blueprinted internals and a Full Throttle Engineering fuel injection setup on a modified Edelbrock manifold. The engine has plenty of punch as it cranked 368 horses at 7,200 rpm and 395 lbs/ft of torque at 6,000 rpm on the Ida Automotive dyno.



At this point, Tucci also fitted the steering, A/C, instruments and all the wiring, glass, and accessories. The interior was then immediately handed off to Jerry’s Custom Interiors in Lockport, New York, where in just three days the whole bone-leather interior was built around a pair of a Tea’s custom seats.

Read the whole story here


September 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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