Bill Bowen’s ’37 Ford comes from an era when trucks were, well, trucks. They were basic, utilitarian and built to work hard. Fit and finish were marginal at best and design was not always a top priority. While Ford cars went through a sweeping style transformation in 1937, adopting more streamlined, Art Deco influences like teardrop-shaped headlights integrated into the fenders and a wrap-around, horizontal-bar grille, the trucks got much more modest grille and windshield updates. Few would have labeled them sleek.
Bowen wanted to change that. When he found his ’37 pickup, he could see past the layers of rust and faded paint and envision something cool and stylish underneath. He wasn’t looking for radical design changes, just a refined and smoother version of that simple pickup. Bowen contacted the guys at Designer Street Rods in Cleveland, Georgia, and told them about the vision for his truck. Oh, and it had to be green – not just any green, the right kind of green. That left a pretty broad palette for interpretation, but the crew at DSR was up for the challenge.
The DSR team completely disassembled the truck and built a custom boxed frame, fitting it with a Heidts independent front suspension and a four-link rear suspension supporting a Currie 9-inch rearend. Wilwood front and rear disc brakes ensured short stopping distances and look great behind the 17×7- and 18×8-inch Budnik wheels wrapped in Yokohama rubber. Custom engine mounts were fabricated to support the Ford Racing 392c.i. small-block, which was fed with a Holley carb, fitted with Sanderson headers and mated to an AOD transmission.
As you might expect, the truck’s body had its share of rust and wrinkles. The Designer Street Rods team fabricated new panels to fix all the troubled areas, even going as far as cutting away outer skin pieces to repair inner structures. They even built a double floor, with a boxed steel framework skinned with smooth top and bottom panels. The fit on this truck is as impressive as we’ve seen on a ’37, with tight gaps and arrow-straight panels. And that green color? It’s a custom PPG mix – exactly what Bill was looking for.
The same level of detail was applied inside, with a modified dash filled with Classic Instruments gauges, a tilt column and a Billet Specialties wheel. The custom bench seat was recessed into the rear of the cab for maximum space before being covered in rich butterscotch leather by Paul Atkins’ masterful hands.
The final result is smooth, low, tight and, dare we say, sleek. It was impressive enough to earn a Truck of the Year Early finalist nod at the Goodguys 2017 Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals in Des Moines. No doubt about it, Bowen’s ’37 is a far cry from its former hay-hauling days and personifies the refined vision he saw from the start.