1941 Ford Custom Show Truck
It’s Time to Acknowledge the Soft Spot Everyone Has For a Clean Old Pickup
Updated October 3, 2018
How often have you walked around either the local classic car club show or a huge classic car arena and drooled over some astonishingly clean retro rides? Whether your answer falls between “every single weekend” or “that’s happened once or twice,” there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy feasting your eyes on this custom 1941 Ford Pickup.
This ’41 Ford first appeared in 1962 at the San Mateo Auto Show. At the time, hot rod styling was starting to branch out into all types of vehicles instead of the typical coupes and T-Buckets. The truck was owned by a gentleman named Joe Crispin of Redwood City, CA, and featured a 1956 Oldsmobile motor, Eldorado wheels, Corvette tail lights and 1959 Cadillac lenses crafted into the rear fenders. To top it all off, there was even a TV and a phone in the bed of the pickup. One year later, the 1941 Ford showed its face at San Mateo again, but this time with a fresh lick of dark green metal-flake paint, quad taillights, flames on the rear fenders and a spare wheel cover. All this was added by Bill Cushenberry, the man behind the truck’s new name: Crème De Menthe.
The current owner of Crème De Menthe, Steve McClain, was just a kid when this 1941 Ford caught his eye. He considers it a piece of Bay Area hot rod history.
When Steve’s friend Dave Simonds came across the 1941 Ford many years later, it was in critical condition at a swap meet. Steve traded one of his own unfinished builds in exchange for the Frankenstein pickup.
It was finished with a worn-out orange paint job, the floor and structure of the cab were rusted out, the firewall was too far gone, dents took up a large proportion of the rear of the cab and the driver’s side door had some problems. The bed had also received a tub when it had been converted to a Pro Street-style race truck.
While the appearance of the truck was nothing impressive, Steve knew that beneath all this mess was the very truck that he remembered as a kid. The unmistakable louvered hood, fenders with Cushenberry’s quad headlights and customized tail lights had all survived to tell the tale.
In other words, the 1941 Ford was still worth saving.
Steve believed that he could save the truck from its troubled state. With the moral support from old timers who recalled the truck from local meets and a particular 1962 issue of Rod & Custom, Steve began the long and painful restoration process. After ordering some parts and doing some metal work himself with a MIG welder he bought, Steve’s 1941 Ford was well on its way to its former glory. The truck got a new Mustang II-style front suspension with 2-inch dropped spindles and TCI coil springs and shocks. A Ford Explorer donated its 8.8 inch rear axle with 3.73 gears and limited slip differential. Anti roll bars were added along with front and rear disc brakes, and the rear end of the build rests on Posies parallel leaf springs.
As for the tires, American Classic provided period-correct narrow whitewalls to help bring the truck back to its roots of Oakland and San Mateo. A set of Wheel Vintiques chrome reverse wheels completed the look.
Long gone was the Oldsmobile motor so in its place, Steve put a ’92 Ford 5.0L HO engine, aspirated by an Edelbrock 600 CFM four-barrel carburetor mounted atop a polished Edelbrock Performer RPM intake. In order to give the truck some noise, Sanderson headers connect to 2-inch pipes to funnel sound through glass pack mufflers. A four-speed automatic overdrive Ford transmission spins the modified Ford Explorer driveshaft.
Brandon Flaner and Aaron Groesbeck of East Bay Speed and Custom in Concord, California contacted Steve about helping with the restoration of his truck. They fixed up the bodywork, repaired some old lead work and recreated the metalwork housings for the custom taillights. The shop also resprayed the 1941 Ford using period-correct paint from House of Kolor, complementing it with a pinstripe. Inside, Divine’s Custom Interiors livened up the upholstery with light green and vanilla colored vinyl. The stock instruments were restored and a trio of gauges was added to the center of the dash.
Crème De Menthe has since received some “Best of” awards from a few judges at various shows. It looks like Steve’s hard work has paid off for the truck, and we’re desperately hoping he keeps a close eye on the pickup until the day he dies. We’d hate to see Crème De Menthe returned to its rusty orange, hole-riddled, pre-restoration self, so hopefully, it stays in the right hands from now on.