TETANUS: TJ Salokas’ Cummins-Powered ’39 Chevrolet Rat Rod

This trip to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, for the 4 Wheel Jamboree was Diesel Army’s first. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is a long way from home but so far, it looks promising. I’m finding out that even up here in the northeast people are interested in stuffing these big, powerful diesel engines in things that aren’t supposed to have them. As I walking through the show, I stumbled onto this gem of a find. Meet Tetanus.

What is Tetanus? No, I’m not talking about the serious diseases that attacks your nervous system. I’m talking about TJ Salokas’ diesel-powered rat rod. Although I’m considering this a ’39 Chevrolet 1.5-ton pickup truck, there is much more to it than that. In fact, Tetanus features a ’40 bed, ’49 Ford F6 frame, and a few other items that Frankenstein it all together.

At first, I’m like okay, this is a really cool rat rod that someone has thrown together. I take a closer look and realize that there is a serious powerplant under the hoods. About that time, Salokas walks up and begins to tell me the story. Salokas has a background in diesel motorsports and this has actually been a father-son project. Even though TJ is more of a Power Stroke guy, his father said he needed a Cummins to make good horsepower. Well, here we are.

Since I’ve mentioned Cummins, clearly we’re working with a healthy 750-horsepower 12-valve Cummins engine. With a Miller Machine-built engine, maxed out Farrell Diesel Service injection pump, 5x.016 injectors, and an S472/.83/1.0 turbocharger, Tetanus has no issue with getting up to speed. Other cool underhood features include a Steed Speed exhaust manifold, a side draft intake manifold, and an air-to-water intercooler system. “As is, this truck should run in the 10.6 to 10.8 range on the dragstrip,” Salokas said. “The engine is backed by a Sam Wyse built, Stage 4 4R100 transmission.”

If you can't love this pieced together madness, what do you like then?

Peep our heads into the interior and it is as custom as you would expect it to be. Salokas fitted this ’39 with a pair of power, heated, and leather Ford King Ranch seats. Not only does it look sweet, but it is also comfortable too. Hailing from the northern New Jersey area, Salokas’ 4,600-pound ride is a nasty one.

Feast your eyes on that custom brass knuckle trench warfare knife shifter. Rad. 

Underneath Tetanus features four-link rear suspension and help from a set of QA1 coil-over shocks. On the front side, it is a three-link suspension with Fox 2.5 shocks. This combined with Super Duty front and rear axles and 3.73 gears, Salokas can take this just about anywhere.

Behind the cab is a restored floor with a transmission cooler and radiator to keep things cool. Very well done, guys!

We’re still out and about out here at the 4 Wheel Jamboree so stay tuned for more action right here on Diesel Army. For more information about Salokas’ rig, check out his Instagram at ISootMyPants. Thoughts on this rat rod? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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