This 1949 Ford Truck Can Do It All!


Joseph Mills at Auto Meter was pretty proud of the display vehicle they had at SEMA 2016. Not only was ‘Old Smokey’ outfitted with the great gauges, it was probably the fastest and most versatile 1949 race truck anyone had ever seen. It might have been a great moonshine runner back in the days of the early NASCAR drivers — if they had that type of technology.


Chock full of patina, this truck is a complete sleeper — that is until you approach it and see the massive nitrous bottles and coolers. Nope. This is definitely not Grandpa’s ’49 Ford F1 farm truck. Not in the least…


Scott Birdsall at Chuckles Garage beams, “We needed a vehicle that would appeal to every type of gear-head and motorsport fan, giving us and our sponsors maximum exposure. A vehicle that could perform on a high level in all the motorsports that Chuckles Garage specializes in: road racing, autocross, drag racing, land speed racing, and drifting.”


Chuckles Garage was established in 2004 in Northern California, and according to Birdsall, “has the capability to build anything. We are a full service race and hotrod shop equipped with a full in­-house machine shop.” Birdsall, himself, uses his 15+ years of fabrication experience and broad engineering background, and has built everything from an ultra traditional 1931 Ford Tudor sedan, a wild ’60s period-correct Falcon gasser, to a factory BMW road racing car. His builds have been featured internationally in many hotrod and custom magazines.


This 1949 Ford Truck really does have something for everyone. The truck itself has hot rod come rat rod appeal in its stance and patina — hand brushed on the “desert find” body. Diesel fans will love the 1,200 hp twin turbocharged Cummins commonrail with Industrial Injection and 91mm and 66 mm compound (twin) turbos— and drag fans will admire the 9-second passes it is capable. The tube chassis, modern racing suspension, great handling and brakes make it attractive to the autocross or road racer — and with a top speed of over 200 mph, the land speed enthusiasts will swoon!


Like most SEMA builds, this bad boy is loaded with top gear. Carillo rods, Mahle coated QSB pistons, Industrial Injection Gorilla Girdle, ARP 625 head studs, a Hamilton cam and pushrods, 
custom stainless turbo manifold and hot pipe built in­-house, Nitrous Express water methanol injection system and 375hp nitrous system, dual Industrial Injection XP CP3 fuel pumps, Pureflow Air Dog lift pump, custom Industrial Injection fuel injectors, an enormous custom made water-to-air intercooler, Mishimoto radiators and heat exchangers and MBRP 5-inch stainless exhaust. The trans is a 4-speed sequentially shifted 47RH transmission using Suncoast components, built by Total Performance Diesel.


The electronics put it over the top modern with an AEM v.2 standalone engine management system using a touchscreen interface on the dash, speed and gear based boost control, Auto Meter Z­-Series analog gauges in the factory gauge cluster, a custom center dash pod, and Optima Yellow Top batteries.


Handling and stopping comes from Wilwood 13-inch, 6-piston brakes in front; Wilwood 13-inch, 4-piston (dual caliper) brakes in the rear; fully adjustable SPC tubular A-­arm suspension in front with Afco remote reservoir coilover race shocks. Moving on to the rear, it has custom lower arms built in­-house, a fully adjustable 4-link suspension with adjustable Panhard bar built in­-house with Afco race coilovers, and a Winters ultra heavy-duty quick change rear axle. The ’49 Ford rides on a fully boxed original chassis with tube frame member and full tube frame back-half. Kirkey full containment racing seats and 5 point RJS harnesses secure the occupants.


Overall, the versatility and imagination undoubtedly puts Chuckles Garage on the map as a go-to shop for just about any type of automotive project — no matter how crazy!

About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events and spends time with his wife and three daughters in Orange County, California.
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