1940 Ford Truck - Mickey's Last One!

Black Luster

Bob Ryder
Mar 1, 2005
Photographers: Bob Ryder
Photo 2/2   |   1940 Ford Pickup front View
"The last one," has been an echoed phrase, reverberated among custom truck builders for generations. After personal dedication, commitment, and sacrifice during a segment of one's life journey, creating unique one-off chariots of speed and beauty, there comes a day when it's time to hang up the welding helmet and wrenches for the last time. Mickey Smith, a professional custom car/truck builder working his trade for the past 18 years, has said many times to himself and his wife Vicki, "That's the last one." But, he always gets that customization craving. It's a good thing that building cool custom trucks is a legal addiction. He builds one or two rods a year.
Having a passion for fast cars ever since high school, Mickey campaigned a little '66 box Nova that blazed endless quarter-mile runs, until he blew it up. Running on a shoestring budget, the car sat in the garage for more than a year before it was rebuilt and subsequently sold. Mickey went from asphalt to water, becoming a national record-holder on the liquid quarter-mile, while racing a variety of boats. Mickey was working at Youngblood Boats, which specialized in producing fast hulls, and it didn't take long until a new kind of high-speed addiction developed. Mickey started skippering very fast jet boats (Youngblood) with 19-foot hulls, before graduating to squirrely flat-bottom classes like Super Stock Hydro, where he tripped the lights at speeds of as much as 132 mph. Mickey topped out his speedy boating career piloting Comp Hydro, a flat-bottom (Curtis Craft), which he clocked a 8.60-second 140-mph quarter-mile. During this time period, before safety capsules that encase the driver in a cocoon, many drivers were seriously injured or killed after being ejected from the boat at high speeds. In fact, one time, Mickey was waiting on the rope line to make a quarter-mile pass, when he lifted the rope for Eddie Hill, who made his almost fatal pass, getting his blown flat-bottom airborne before hitting the water at 190-plus mph and disintegrating the boat. That was Eddie's last pass on water. Next, he took up a very successful career in top fuel dragsters, blazing the asphalt quarter-mile in his well-known Pennzoil digger at 220-plus mph, before retiring a couple of years ago. Not wanting to become a young widow, Mickey's wife Vicky convinced him to hang up his life vest and race helmet.
After climbing out of the boats, Mickey began his current business, building numerous high-quality custom street rods and trucks for the past 18 years, specializing in '31-'34 Ford coupes, Corvettes, musclecars, and early model trucks. His association with Downs Manufacturing sparked the flame of his latest flawless creation.
This black beauty is built on a '40 Downs custom frame with a 114-inch wheelbase. Its front Heidt's A-arms were narrowed 1 inch on each side, and they are accompanied with a pair of Heidt's 2-inch drop spindles. The ride is controlled and smoothed with gas-filled shocks and a thick front sway bar, which flattens out body roll during cornering. To achieve front suspension flexibility, Mickey decided to install an Air Ride Technologies airbag system. Eliminating any wheel hop during extensive acceleration and burnout exhibitions, the rear suspension was four-linked. A Panhard bar is bolted to the framerail and rearend, to eliminate any lateral movement, and a beefy sway-bar cancels out any body roll, making Mickey's ride a cornering flatliner. Air Ride Technologies airbags were incorporated with the rear suspension, to allow the rear to lay out like the front. The Heidt's Mustang II power steering rack and GM pump make steering effortless. Stopping power is assisted by a GM master cylinder and power booster that activate the four GM brake calipers halting the spinning rotors. All brake and fuel stainless lines were formed and routed by Gary Lane from Bryant, Arkansas. Putting the stopping power to the pavement, bold, polished billet aluminum Budnik 20x8-inch rears with 4-inch backspacing and 17x6-inch front wheels with 3-1/2-inch backspacing are wrapped with Yokohama P215/45ZR17 front and P245/40ZR20 rear rubber.
Underneath the hood is a new '02 Corvette LS1 crate engine that has been left completely stock, achieving 400 hp on the dyno. A new GM 4L60-E transmission was bolted up to the LS1. The engine's electronic harness, computer, and components were all linked and wired by Tony Duncan at Street Rod Performance in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Downs resin-gelcoat '40 Ford pickup body is only one of 53 different body styles offered. After receiving the Downs '40 Ford pickup cab, all of the doors, fenders, hood, bed, and tailgate were modified. Scott Helmbeck of Helmbeck Body Shop in Gravel Ridge, Arkansas, reworked and modified the Downs body. A Press-Pick bed floor and tonneau, were installed by Mickey, along with the gray window tint. A pair of BMW MINI Cooper headlights were grafted into the front fenders, while Rod Tronics taillights were frenched into the rear roll pan. Scott Helmbeck devoted endless hours preparing the body surface for multiple coats of Hot Hues Blackened and DuPont Base Clear. The depth of the Hot Hues Blackened paint and clear is incredible.
Your breath will be taken away when you open the doors, exposing the Lipstick Red Ultraleather and -suede interior. The perforated Ultrasuede inserts were done by C-A-R-S from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The impeccable stitchwork was done by Tracy Weaver of Recovery Room in Omaha, Nebraska. The unique dash with centered white-face Auto Meter gauges was created by Larry Allen of Little Rock, Arkansas. Gary Lane used a Painless Wiring kit to neatly connect all the switches and gauges. The audio vibes come from an Alpine stereo head unit powered by a Kicker Amp from Parabolick that explodes through four stout Kicker speakers. The creature comfort is maintained by an Air-tique air-conditioning system.
How could something so sweet come to an end? If this is truly Mickey's last one, this clean, black Downs '40 with the Lipstick Red interior is a sweet kiss-off for the perfect swan song.
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