Mudstone Roadster – An Earthy Deuce Pickup with Classic Hot Rod Style
Many hot rodders dream of turning their old-car hobby into a profession. Having the right combination of skill and good business sense to do that successfully can be more challenging than a lot of people realize, though. David Kennedy is one rodder who seems to have found the right balance and a good path to success.
“I’ve been around cars all my life,” David says. “My dad was a car dealer and was into early Fords. When I got out of high school, I started buying and fixing wrecked Corvettes. In 1990 I opened a body shop. I was running a body shop during the day and building street rods at night for myself and friends. In the early-2000s, I swapped my collision shop over to a full-time hot rod shop.”
Based in Selmer, Tennessee, Kennedy’s Hot Rod Shop has been going strong for nearly two decades now. Like many builders, an ongoing challenge for David is finding time to work on his own projects between customer jobs, but he recently found a way to finish up this just-right deuce pickup for himself. “I traded a ’46 Ford coupe for it,” David says. “The body is one of the first three roadster pickup bodies from Brookville.”
The trade got David the starting point – a body and frame – but he still had to craft it into a car, a process that took about four years of on-again, off-again evening and weekend work. “I didn’t have a rendering, but I had it in my mind what I wanted to do,” David says of the project. “I knew I wanted a top, I knew I wanted knockoff wheels, and I knew I wanted that color.”
We’ll discuss the Deuce’s distinctive hue in a little bit, but the roadster needed a whole lot of fabrication and assembly first. The journey to fulfill David’s hot rod vision began with a set of ASC frame rails that David’s son Kirby built into a chassis using a Super Bell dropped front axle, Posies spring, and rear ladder bars from So-Cal Speed Shop locating the Currie 9-inch rearend. Other components employed included a Borgeson steering box, So-Cal shock/headlight mounts, and Wilson Welding front backing plates with Buick drums. Kirby incorporated a number of custom touches into the chassis, as well, with details like the curved front spreader bar and stamped recesses on the boxing plates.
David elected to keep things pretty straightforward for power, opting for a 350c.i. small-block Chevy topped with World Products heads, a Weiand intake, and an Edelbrock carb. A Pertronix distributor and Alan Grove accessory brackets kept things simple, and the engine was cleanly detailed with finned aluminum valve covers, stainless TruRam exhaust manifolds, a ’64 Corvette air cleaner, and a handmade aluminum fan shroud. A Tremec TKO five-speed transmission allows him the fun of rowing his own gears.
In addition to finessing the Brookville body to achieve precise fit and alignment, David louvered the hood tops and fitted a leaned-back Wanlass windshield and cloth RodTops top. He also built a vintage-style trunk for the pickup bed and made a distinctive grille by welding a commercial truck insert into a passenger car grille shell. Headlights from a ’36 Ford add a little more distinction up front, while Model A taillights flank the bed.
That subdued color also helps to distinguish this Deuce. It’s an earthy, vintage-looking hue called Mudstone that, true to its name, can appear more brown or gray depending on the quality of light hitting it. “That’s the color I had in mind when I started the truck,” David says. It seems to suit the roadster well, and is complemented by a gold-tone Cerakote finish on the 16-inch So-Cal Speed Shop knock-off wheels.
Well-chosen parts were used to complete the roadster’s cabin, including Classic Instruments in an engine-turned panel, a Limeworks steering wheel and column, and custom-made stainless steel pedals. A vintage HaDees heater was mounted under the dash, and that column-mounted pod is actually not a tach, but a radio. “The radio mounted on the steering column is a 1936 Philco that has been updated to modern Bluetooth,” David says.
Beyond those cool details and the bitchin’ Limeworks shifter is some tastefully stitched leather covering the seat and side panels. “Mike Ragan is a good friend and did all the upholstery in his spare time,” David says. “Danny Kilburn is also a good friend and the owner of Dan’s Polishing; he did all the plating, which is done in a nickel chrome finish.”
Finished last year, the clean roadster pickup only made it to a handful of events thanks to the pandemic season, but David hopes to get it out a lot more in 2021. We can’t think of a better or more enjoyable way to attract potential customers and soak up some road miles than behind the wheel of this tasty little Mudstone Deuce pickup.
Photos by Damon Lee