From the patina finish instead of perfect glossy paint to the extreme customization; the sight of any custom-built classic always draws a crowd. Whether a shiny and gorgeous ride or a “rat rod” defies convention, custom rides are popular. Most rat rods marry old classics to modern powerplants, but what happens when you also get all the modern comforts? We caught up with Tony Salokas at the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree, and our first glance at his 1939 1 1/2-ton Cummins-swapped Chevy truck commanded we stop and take a thorough look.
As we walked up to the truck, it has the look of a classic rat rod — patina-covered body panels and serious ornamentation — but looking deeper, the wheels instantly told us there is more to this ride. Sure, this truck is a little out of the ordinary due to being larger than a traditional hot rod, but it does possess all the classic stylings of its smaller counterparts. The rust and patina are on full display along with a badass saw blade theme that brings it all together. However, it doesn’t take long to understand this is more than a rust-covered old truck.
Everything under the surface has been heavily modified to deliver top-tier performance. Tony’s truck is powered by a custom-built Miller Motorsports 12-valve Cummins engine. Adding to the 5.9’s performance is a 160 Ferrall Diesel Service fuel pump with Haley 5×16 fuel injectors regulating the feeding of this monster. Forced air is delivered via a Forced Inductions 472 turbo adding the requisite boost through a side-draft intake. Cooling the charge is an air-to-water intercooler.
Mounted to the back of the 12-valve is a Sam Wyse 4R100 transmission bolted to a 272 transfer case that sends all that torque to a pair of Super Duty axles with 3.73 gears. Yes, this monster is in essence, an all-wheel-drive street rod. Supporting the axle housings are large-by-huge custom-built four-link bars. The frame is from a 1946 F-6 truck and has been C-notched to allow the lowered stance. Finally, Qa1 coilovers support this creation.
As crazy as the powertrain is, the interior is just as cool. Looking inside the cab, we first noticed the old-school dashboard that is fitted with an Omega Kustom instrument cluster. The contrast between the patina of the dash and the large white instrument faces is very striking. Since Tony drives this rig as often as possible, comfort is a requirement. That’s why the late-model King Ranch Leather interior appointments are used. And yes, the power and heated seat functions work. The natural-colored leather is the perfect complement to the antique interior.
The floor did have some issues with not being able to retain stuff (big holes), so Tony repaired the cab with a collection of road signs pieced together and bent to form the floorboard. There is a stop sign, some old license plates, and a big “NO SMOKING” sign just to name a few. Combine this with the wood steering wheel and the chrome touches for all the handles and controls, and you see why this truck is unique.
The bed of the truck is 1940 vintage and Tony shortened it by 16 inches. Closer inspection reveals the saw blade theme continues as the design makes the bed-mounted blades appear as if they are cutting the oak bed floor. The oak is accented with chrome stripping to round out the look. Against the front wall of the bed, there is a huge transmission cooler and radiator. He even made the bed removable to access the batteries and rear suspension.
Tony said he sometimes uses his Cummins-swapped hauler as a daily driver and even takes it on road trips. He stated he has driven it more than 6 hours a day and while cruising on the highway he was still getting 23 mpg. He’s created a truck that is the perfect marriage of an old rat rod with top-tier performance and the modern comforts that make us want to drive it.
We asked Tony if he has any more plans for his Cummins-swapped Chevy and he said he needs to finish getting the transmission dialed in. Once he gets that working as he wishes, he thinks it will run mid-10s in the quarter-mile. However, he did go on to say the racing he plans to do most is dirt drags…can you imagine the rooster tails? There is no doubt about it, Tony has built a unique machine. The truck is a study of contrasts. The contrast of the antique vs the modern makes this a cool hot rod. It’s no wonder Tony draws a crowd wherever he parks it.
Do you want to see more Reader’s Rigs? So do we. This is a new column DieselArmy.com will be putting together and we need your help. If you would like to share yours, we want to hear about it — we can never get enough. If you want to see more trucks built by you the readers, send a few pictures of your rig showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and we’ll make you internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].