An insomniac’s in-the-weeds Ford pickup |

An insomniac’s in-the-weeds Ford pickup

Ron Cherry
Special to The Union

To lower this ‘33 Ford, it was channeled. When it came from the factory, the body sat on top of the frame rails. The builder dropped it over the rails so that it covers them. The rod has also been chopped, with two inches taken out of the roof pillars so that the roofline is lower.

Insomnia can be expensive. One night, about six months ago, Norm Dodson lay awake in bed, thinking about things he would like to own for once in his life. An early 1930s Ford truck came to mind.

He had recently sold a '32 Ford roadster hot rod because the open car was just too breezy to drive in cold weather, so he was ripe for a "new" car.

He remembered four years before while on a run with fellow Roamin Angels, he had seen a rod builder who had 23 '32 and '33 Ford pickups in various states of restoration. That, he decided, was the place to go.

When Norm and wife Leslie arrived after several hours of driving, he was disappointed. The builder only had two left, and both required a lot of work before they could be on the road.

Norm wanted one that was ready to drive. The builder, however, took the opportunity to show Norm and Leslie a calender that showed him with a different hot rod that he had built for each month.

It also had a different topless model posed with him each month. Norm noticed that Leslie was less than pleased at being shown the mammary display, but she said nothing.

Recommended Stories For You

Then the builder said, "You know, I've got my own truck I would be willing to sell."

It was a '33 "in-the-weeds," chopped and channeled Ford pickup. "In the weeds" means that it had been lowered so that it only had a few inches of ground clearance, hence won't even clear the weeds.

The cab and running boards were original, with a reproduction bed. It was painted DP90 flat-black primer with tasteful red pinstriping and sat on red powder-coated Dayton wire wheels.

The interior had a bench seat with black tuck-and-roll, a '40 Ford repro steering wheel and SoCal gauges in a wood-grained panel.

For a running gear, it had a Chevy 350 CID engine and a Turbo 350 auto trans that was mated to a 9-inch Ford rear-end. In the front, it had a four-bar suspension.

It was just what Norm was looking for, a truck he could hop into and start driving.

Then came the price negotiation. Norm and the builder had pretty much come to an acceptable price when Leslie stepped in.

"Look," she told the builder, "You made me sit there and look at your disgusting pin-up calendar, so now you can do something better on the price."

After a weak protest, the builder caved and the price fell.

As Norm says, "She made him pay."

Then he paid the reduced price for the truck and drove off.

Norm soon found the disadvantages of driving an in-the-weeds truck. He couldn't go straight in or out of most driveways, having to take them at an angle, and couldn't get in or out of some of them at all.

Speed bumps in parking lots were a challenge, sometimes insurmountable. Even bumps on the freeway at 60 mph "really wake you up." Plus it rides like … well, a truck. Also, since it has no heater, below freezing weather takes a lot of the fun out of driving.

Norm is happy with his pickup. He says he "bought it to drive and have fun with and never have to do anything on it." He also says those are "famous last words." But he is satisfied with his in-the-weeds Ford. At least until his next bout of insomnia.

For more about Ron Cherry, go to For information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, go to, call 530-432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, P.O. Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road on Fridays at 6:30 a.m.

Go back to article