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The New Coupes

The New Coupes
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You know, the roadster and coupe hot rods are truly an American phenomenon. The more-door car is way old fashioned, and has been from the git go. You want to impress another hot rodder, you gotta have the ride, doood! So, in order of preference, we have the open car (roadster then convert) followed by the hardtop and coupe, then the truck, and as a last gasp, the four door sedan snoozer croozer.
 
But, of recent years, that truck has been creeping up the wanna lists, until today the pickup has a status aside from all the other forms of transportation. The truck has become a necessary addition to the family tree, and it threatens to replace the long-favored coupe  as personal transport supreme.
   
Consider: much of the charm of a coupe is the coziness of driver and passenger(s). Same can be said of the contemporary pickup truck. There is usually room for two, with a third being able to squeeze in the middle. Of course, you got yourself a rez ride, you fill the truck bed full and go drag main. Like in Hawaii, you fill every available enclosed (and seat belt equipped) area first, then and only then do you like pick up hitch-hiking surfboarders. Legally.
 
And, it is amazing what you can do to personalize a pickup, without it losing its character as a truck. 
 
No matter what you do to a pickup, you still got a pickup, as long as you have a bed. One time, several years ago, Norm Gabowski stopped by my house with some drawings of an idea. He had lots of ideas, many quite good, but he never had throwaway bucks, so he needed as much sponsorship as he could get. In this case, he was after info on possible backers for the project, and it was a good one.
 
Essentially, the front of the frame was lengthened about a foot. Then, that foot of wheelbase was shorn from the frame aft of the cab. No bed was used, instead a very large oval gas tank was placed immediately  behind the cab. There were coil/over springs used at the rear, so nothing hung behind the stock rear end. He had drawings of several different wheelbases, all the stretching done to the front clip, and anything over about a foot to the fore made the truck look grotesque.
 
With a stock height greenhouse, the truck was a little cartoony, but chopped about 3 inches it took on a wicked character. Bigs and littles running on big truck type aluminum wheels completed the illusion. Here was something that could be built at home, with a modicum of money and it wouldn’t require tons of fabrication talent. Unfortunately, he never got this idea on the road. It was a very good one.
 
Much better than that Corvair flat-six powered crotch car he built which had to be push started, but looked killer on the freeway. 
 
So pickups are where it’s at, and it has been there for a long time now. Not too many years after I started Street Rodder magazine, Tom McMullen introduced Truckin’ magazine. That title has morphed into further niche publications, and the light truck interest market has a sizeable aftermarket of its own. In fact, it runs second only to street rodding overall. Add to this ready supply of antique tin in the world’s farming communities, and you have a brand new supply of raw materials for the next generation of hot rod coupe enthusiasts.
 
Whatever, the current crop of rat rods that started life as discarded farm haulers proves that here is one coupe that has countless ways to impress the local peasants. I think my favorite has to have been one I saw here in Australia at a rod run called Chopped, where the emphasis is on the bizarre. And interesting. In this case, there was an (I think)IH truck cab severely channelled and chopped on some nondescript chassis. The engine was a gi-normous diesel(mit kompresssor) wherein the engine top was probably a foot above the cab. It ran. But why? Because, quite simply, the guy could build it. It wasn’t loaded with chicks, but it did impress the unwashed masses. Coupes (and trucks) ain’t for chickens, you know.