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Cletus Riedels 36 Ford, A Daily Driven Traditional Hot Rod

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There's not a lot of daily driver 1936 Ford trucks out there, let alone one that's actually used like a truck; Cletus Riedel has built one that's both. I had a blast meeting with Cletus at his shop to talk about the 36 truck, take some pictures, and burn some rubber.

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The Idea.

Riedel knew he loved the look of a hot rod 34 Ford coupe, but he wanted a vehicle he could use not only as a hot rod, but as a functional truck. He discovered that a 36 Ford truck had the same cowl, look, and swoopy deco lines as the 34 coupe. This allowed him to build his functional truck as a mid 50's style hot rod, inspired by the look of the Pierson brothers coupe. A ride he could cruise, take road trips in, drag race with ET's in the 12's, and even go to the dump and haul crap around (no he won't help you move).

Cletus built this truck at home, in a one car garage, while working as a design engineer with all the month to month expenses the rest of us have. He scraped, saved, traded, and combed the swap meets to put this truck together. He's owned the truck for about five years now, and has actually built it more than once; we'll get to that in a minute.

Bringing it All Together.

The build started with a trade for the most important part of the truck. Cletus traded a fiat drag car for the 36 cab and grill shell (I can't help but think Cletus got the better end of that deal). The frame actually came from a four door sedan, and quickly went under the knife to give this truck its unique and well planned style and stance. The bed was from a 30's truck and was actually being used as a pinched frame utility trailer when Cletus was gifted with it. The engine for the hot rod/hauler was originally slated to be a straight six, but thanks to a brother in the know, the truck came to life with a supercharged Chevy 350. Buying a complete used engine "sans car" is always a sketchy proposition. There's no way to tell the true mileage, condition, or how it was driven. Sellers usually know this, and price accordingly. Cletus was able to get a great deal on the engine and purchase with confidence, due to his brothers first hand knowledge of the engine and it's former owners mild level of abuse (nobody "babies" a supercharged small block, theres only levels of abuse).

2nd Times a Charm

Once assembled to a drivable state, every classic car owners nightmare became a reality for Riedel. In his case, it was an old lady in a Hyundai. The women in the Hyundai ran a stop sign and plowed into the 36 injuring not only the truck, but Cletus' brother, who was in the passenger seat of the truck. With Cletus' brother out of the hospital a couple of days later, the truck sat around a while and had a slightly longer recovery. Cletus was thinking of walking from the project, when his wife Michelle encouraged him to get the truck back together and finish it. With the frame modifications fresh in his mind, he found another sedan frame and went to work on it. He then began the task of pounding out lots of dents, but still leaving a little "character" or subtle reminders of the incident. I didn't notice them until he pointed them out to me. Finally Riedel found himself further along than he was before the wreck. {phocagallery view=category|categoryid=5|imageid=56|float=right}

One post wreck modification that was absolutely necessary on this daily driver (especially in Michelle's eyes) was better braking up front, this meant disc brakes. Cletus couldn't bare to see rotors and calipers on the front of the truck. The look he worked so hard to achieve would be trashed, so he installed a finned hidden disc setup from So-Cal Speedshop. The look was exactly the way it was pre wreck, and the gains in braking/safety were huge.

The most expensive mod on this truck was this brake set up. It's a great example of spending some dough where it's needed. If you're daily diving your ride, good brakes are a must. By spending some extra cash, Cletus was able to gain some safety without scarificing his vision for the truck.

The devils in the Details

As you look at this truck you start to realize how well it's laid out. This is no thrown together rat rod (although Cletus affectionately calls the truck "the sh*t box"). The dropped Superbell front axle is placed in the frame rails in a way that hides the spring. The 9" rear axle and ladder setup handles all the power the mill puts out but doesn't scream drag car. It's definitely lower than a highboy style rod, but not quite as low as the Z'd frame, "in the weeds" rods either. If you look down the side of the truck you see a great line that shoots from the bed rail, to the body line on the cab, all the way to the top of the grill shell. The cab was carefully channeled the thickness of the frame, but still leaves plenty headroom to the very chopped roof when sitting in the truck. When we went for a drive in the truck, there was a distinct lack of headache causing rattles and creaks, enabling me to enjoy the sound of the exhaust exiting just behind the cab. Cletus has done a killer job creating a ride that not only looks great but serves a purpose.

The Quick and Dirty Interview

Q- What was your favorite part of the build?

A- Definitely the chop, After the cuts were done I rolled it outside to look at it (not much view in a one car garage) and I knew I was on the right track

Q- What is your favorite tool?

A- The TIG welder, hands down.

Q- What did you decide to spend money on, and trust to the pros?

A- I had Gary Gonzales build the transmission.

Q- Approximate cost?

A- Around 20k

Q- What advice would you give to anyone wanting to build or modify their car?

A- Know what you really want, because you're going to be married to it, do lots of research (google images is great). Plan for budget and ability! Don't get in over your head.

Q- What do you love about your garage?

A- The one car home garage? not much.........

Q- What would you change about your garage?

A- Bigger!

Q- What's your best ET at the drag strip?

A- 12.306 at 109.392 MPH



  • Chevy 350
  • Dart Heads
  • Weiand 144 Blower
  • Edelbrock 4BBL
  • Vintage Cal Customs valve covers


  • TH350
  • High stall converter
  • Ford 9" POSI rear end
  • 3:50 Gears


  • yeah uummm........


  • 35 two door sedan
  • Custom X members


  • Ram horn exhaust manifolds
  • 40 series mufflers
  • 2 1/4 pipes


  • 4" drop Superbell front axle
  • Rear triangulated ladder
  • Friction shocks


  • So-Cal Speedshop finned hidden disc


  • Chopped 5"
  • Channeled 5"
  • 30's truck bed
  • Custom interior

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A little video of the "Sh*t box" in action in the far lane

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I'm a gearhead originally haling from Brooklyn NY. I now reside in the almost rust free state of New Mexico I've completed some cool projects and screwed up even more.