Car of the Week: 1938 Ford Rat Rod

19-year-old builder shows his automotive chops on this cool 1938 Rat Rod powered by a modern Chevy LS engine.
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Car of the Week 2020
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Some people think that those in the under-30 age group don’t like old cars and trucks, but sometimes it’s only a case of young enthusiasts not liking the same kind of vintage tin. Take “rat rods,” for example. Their biggest appeal is to talented young men and women who have the know-how to put together a vehicle, but lack the money or interest in spending a fortune on NOS or reproduction parts.

Ricky Moore is a 19-year-old car builder with the kind of skills to restore a classic, but he used his abilities to put a derelict old Ford pickup back on the road as a hot rod truck with a “jalopy” look. Not many teenagers — or even “golden agers” — can weld up an automobile frame the way Ricky can. No doubt he learned some of his skills from his father, who owns RR Frames (www.rrframes.com).

19-year-old car builder, Ricky Moore

19-year-old car builder, Ricky Moore

After his “frame job” was finished, Rickie took his work of art and slid it under a derelict ’38 Ford and then had the truck accepted for display in the Chevrolet Performance Parts booth in Indianapolis at PRI, the Performance and Racing Industry Trade Show (www.performanceracing.com). Here’s the story on his jalopy show truck that was built in just six months:

Ricky started with a cab that a friend dug out of the ground. The frame that became the base of his jalopy started life under a Chevy pickup truck.

To this frame Ricky added all-new 2x6-inch railing and 1/8-inch thick pieces of steel. A Corvette suspension like the one RR Frames normally uses for hot rod builds was bolted to the frame.

Turning his attention to the Ford’s cab, Ricky chopped the top to make it 3-1/2 inches lower. Then he then spent about a day and a half grinding it to bare metal before spraying the frame with an acid that rusted up the rails. He then let it sit outside for a while to rust a bit more on its own. Next, he had a friend airbrush it to cover up the bare metal. The balance of the build was left just the way the truck looked when it was sitting outside in the field.

The ’32 Ford grille and shell came from another friend. After it was fitted and installed in the chassis, Ricky and his dad decided to complete the basic truck with a ’27 Ford Model T pickup box that they already had sitting in their shop. When Ricky and his dad mounted the ’27 Ford Model T pickup box at the rear, they said all of the pieces just seemed to fall in place.

5.7L of Chevy LS power

5.7L of Chevy LS power

The Ford cab left the factory behind a flathead V-8, but today it sits behind a 5.7-liter Chevrolet LS V-8. The engine puts out over 500 hp and has a Tremec six-speed automatic transmission bolted up behind it. Ricky had to weld new motor mounts to the frame, but he has been welding for years so that was no problem. His dad taught him how to weld years earlier, when they started selling frames. Now he’s been working at the shop for about five years.

In addition to the rat rod truck, Ricky owns a show-condition 1970 Dodge Charger, but he wanted a hot rod that he could drive every day. Most rat rods aren’t comfortable for daily use, but Ricky’s has air conditioning, a heater, a stereo and leather seats. The interior is soundproofed with an American flag headliner.

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When he’s not working on his Charger or rat rod, Ricky builds frames for 1955-’57 Chevys, 1947-’59 Chevy pickups and 1953-’62 Corvettes. RR Frames just started making frames for early Ford pickups, too. In addition, the company also supplies Classic Auto Air conditioning systems, GM Performance Parts engines and transmissions, stainless-steel pump-in-tank gas tanks, aluminum radiators, ididit steering columns, and electrical harnesses. 

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If you’ve got an old car you love, we want to hear about it. Email us at oldcars@aimmedia.com

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