Story: This truck has quite the story. It was given to the current owner by his grandpa, hence the project name, then was parted out by and nearly lost after the first shop it was being built at dissolved. When it came to us, it was nothing more than a rusty cab and doors that had been blasted and left. The floor, rockers and part of the firewall were all rotted through. The box was beyond saving too. It was the perfect candidate for something wild.
The decision was made to spec out part of a Roadster Shop chassis. Basically, it was their Slammed C10 chassis, but completely naked out back. We knew it was going to get something special-a Cortex Racing watts link for the s197 mustang 8.8 going in. Check out the pictures and descriptions below to see the rest of the goodies: Ford performance Coyote crate motor, Performance Automatics 4r70w with a Powertrain Control Solutions paddle shifter and GSM, Rotiform custom 3 piece wheels, Bed Wood Brazilian Cherry bed floor, Vintage Air HVAC, MIshimoto radiator and coolers, Power By the Hour accessory drive, Wilwood Aero 6/4 front and rear brakes, Top Stitch Upholstery custom interior integrated into the roll cage, paint by Damn Straight Customs.
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The first step on a project of this scale is to get the motor/tranny, chassis, and cab on the fixture table. Once everything is roughly in place, then start to dial it all in based on what you want the end result to look like. Here we got the motor and trans positioned in relation to the cab and hood, which locates the grill. Grill location in relation to the front wheels was the priority because of the look the customer was after. Our 18' chassis table was built in house and is infinitely adjustable with T channel extruded aluminum framework. It's not uncommon to built 90% of the fixtures for a project (seen here supporting the cab), which allow it to be moved around easily to dial in mounting.
Once the cab and drive train are in place relative to each other, we can fabricate motor mounts, transmission crossmember and body mounts. The rusty old floor and rocker panels were completely cut out and replaced with a 1x1 structure that will be a solid building ground for the body mounts, cage mounts, and sheet metal.
Tackling the last of the rusty stuff was the next step. While most of the rot had been cut out with the floor, firewall, and rockers, the bottoms of the pillars were another issue. Being these pieces are not available from the aftermarket, and it is crucial they are in the right spots for the door gaps to be correct, they had to be painstakingly hand formed. From the pocket for the hinge, to the captured nut plate on the back and the step in the face for the quarter panel and cab corner to sit in. These are the details that if done right, will never be noticed or appreciated after it's all said and done!
The rear chassis section of the Roadster Shop chassis was highly modified. Roadster Shop offers great options for rear suspension, but we wanted to run the Cortex Racing watts link setup that we have come to be very familiar with on the mustangs. We also knew the wheel base was not going to match what we were doing, which would require further modification. The chassis was cut and extended 11", then plated, the C-notch was cut and lowered by 4" because the chassis was intended for a laid out air ride application. The axle housing was stripped and brackets were fabricated for the link bars and coil overs. The Fuel Safe fuel cell was also mounted. Bladder cells are not cheap, but it's not worth risking a fire due to a ruptured tank-don't take safety lightly!
This is where is all starts to come together! The 1x1 floor structure is cut and bridged for driveshaft/trans tunnel clearance, then the sheet metal can start going down. The 1 piece firewall was fit up, then removed for bead rolling, same with the floor boards. After they were in, the 1.75" x .134" wall DOM cage was bent up and wrestled in to place. After that, pedal assemblies could be mounted. The plastic/aluminum cover on the Ford drive by wire accelerator pedal didn't match the pad we made for the brake pedal so we removed it and made a matching one-its all in the details!
Being Gramps is fenderless and the frame rails from are not the most eye catching, a set of spaghetti inspired, true equal length headers were fabricated to fill the space. Also keeping with the theme the cage gives the interior, a tubular structure was built to house all the electronics and double as a center console. A custom seat bracket mounts the Corbeau bucket seat. The "bed floor" bed cover frame was also finished, powder coated and had the Brazilian Cherry planks installed. This will lift on gas struts like a "Tonneau cover", giving access to everything underneath.
The front of the Roadster Shop chassis was meant to mount a bumper to and stuck out past our grill. We cut the tips of the rails off and made a drop piece to mount the radiator and grill to. The grill itself was one of the biggest challenges of the build. The top piece integrates into the fenders and is much wider than the lower slat portion, but it also blend the shape of the hood into the shape of the slats so we had to use it. After multiple revisions and a new top piece from LMC, the crew came up with something that looks great. Blending our style of building with some triangle dimples and spiked tubular crossmember, with some more classic hot rod sheet metal work, the end result is a great looking front statement piece...at least in our opinion.
This is the point in any build that you feel like every time you cross something off the list, you remember 2 more things that need to be added. The fabricated cab corners now got some holes in them for exhaust exits. It was tight, but we got a full size muffler between the rocker and the frame rail. A V-band and flex pipe were also included in the system to allow for ease of removal and no cracks due to vibration.
One known hurdle was how we were going to get access to the fuel cell for filling it without having to open the tailgate or lift the Bedwood floor. Similar to what we do on the race cars we build, a filler was incorporated into a structure behind the tailgate, followed by some sheet metal work to flush the filler up to the gate itself, making it appear its actually mounted in the tailgate. Once that was done, we were able to final fit the Bedwood floor and step back and enjoy that beautiful Brazilian Cherry.
Snap your fingers and just like that, you forget how many 1000's of hours are into it, and 100's left before it's actually burning gas. Back from paint, body and powdercoat, cab is back on the chassis. The powder coater wanted to show off his skills a bit and the Wilwood Aero 6 calipers were done in a powder that matched the cage with the "Gramps" insignia in it. They look pretty good behind those big, custom 3 piece Rotiform wheels!
Bed on and body is fully assembled-time for plumbing. The ac, heater core, fuel and brake systems all require custom bent stainless steel hard lines. The lines for the heat and ac require a small, intricate tig weld vs a silver solder joint to secure the end fittings. Ultimately, these will get ceramic coated for heat control and continue with the "nothing shiny" concept the customer is after.
Wiring time! Although the FRPP Coyote control pack kit comes with the harness, it does not work very well for our locations of components, so we cut it apart and reconfigure it. The body harness consisted of a combination of American Autowire and custom, then the Powertrain Control Solutions transmission controller has a harness as well. While it would work to just lay them all in, we removed redundant circuits and configured the harnesses to work together and run cleanly throughout the truck. The fuse boxes and control panels were all mounted in an easily accessible area to make any trouble shooting effortless. The headers run very close to the A pillars on the cab so a set of heat shields were fabricated to protect the paint, as well as ceramic coating on the collector area of the header. The AC/coolant lines also got some heat protection from a heat shield that was hand formed on the bag and wheel.
Now the fun part! Gramps' first stop was the Indoor Modest show put on by the Drive Cartel, where it took home a best in Show. After that it was drive time-with only 500 miles on it, and hardly broken in, the owner took it on Crown Rally South. He drove it from Minneapolis down to Chicago, where it spent the day being chased by Porsches and other exotics on Autobahn Country club's road course. After that, the rally headed down to Devil's Triangle, then Tail of the Dragon. That's how you properly break in a build! Returning safe and sound to Minneapolis with over 4000 miles on the odometer, a thorough inspection was done, before it was returned to the owner to be put away for the winter.