To the Phone Booth!

To the Phone Booth!

I love old magazines. I love the way they smell, the way they feel and, of course, the cars that fill their yellowing pages. Last week, I bought the August 1963 issue of Rod & Custom to dig a little deeper into the tale of a long-lost Northern California drag sedan. That story’s in the works and—with any luck—you’ll be reading it on here later this summer.

You see, the sedan wasn’t the only showstopper in that issue. As a matter of fact, the entire batch of feature cars was strong. Staying true to their name, the magazine included a mix of rods and customs, and there was even a slingshot dragster thrown in for good measure. Today’s subject fell into slot number three in the feature well. On page 14, you can find what the R&C staff referred to as “The Perfect Pickup.”

Yes! Bill Manthey’s San Jose, California-based Model A is one of the most sanitary phone booths I’ve ever seen. Built in a 2-1/2-year span, the Sapphire Blue truck hits all the right notes and is pure early-’60s. My favorite part? It’s unchopped and full-fendered. There’s no denying that ’28-’29 Model A pickups look oh-so-right when they have their head in the clouds. Other than the shortened bed and rolled rear pan with Caddy lights, the A retains a great deal of its stock charm.

Beyond the broad strokes, Mr. Manthey detailed his truck to the hilt. Up front, he installed a hot ’48 Merc flathead—originally from a Sprint car—and outfitted it with a quartet of Stromberg 97s. He painted the block white, and then sprayed the inside of the canted frogmouth scoops to match. The aluminum heads were Evans items, while the intake came from Edelbrock.

Out back, Bill took the build to a whole new level. Keeping with the competition theme, he opted for a Halibrand quickchange stuffed with 4.11 gears. To slow the truck, he sourced a pair of genuine Kinmonts. Yep, you read that right. The end result was nothing short of hot rod jewelry.

With its chrome steelies, narrow whitewalls, and black and white tuck-n-roll throughout, this pickup is as nice as they come. I can only imagine how much attention it must have gotten back in the day. This Friday, I’ll wind things down with my usual question: I wonder if this truck is still around today? Let’s hope so.

Joey Ukrop

Photos by Andy Southard Jr., R&C, August 1963

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