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The '38 Special: 1938 Chevy Pickup Buggy

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2010
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John Galbreath wanted something new. He's had Jeeps, buggies, and trucks, but he wanted a new ride for running trails around his home in Alabama. While visiting various car shows he realized that whatever he had next would be narrow in the front and rear, so why not start with something made that way? That's where the idea came from to build a rock rod version of a '38 Chevy truck.

The hood, headlights, and grille, along with the tailgate and glovebox door, are all original '38 Chevy bits, but the flames and purple paint are from Brian Walker at Lost Cause Paint. The windshield is removable for trail days, while the tube fenders are reminiscent of '38 bowtie sheetmetal but made of DOM tubing. The sticky BFG rubber is wrapped around shiny Walker Evans beadlocks. Protruding through the centers are custom drive flanges made to mimic a .38-caliber shell, but inside are 35-spline Yukon Chromoly axleshafts.

Some folks have skills, and some folks have bills. John realized he could spend it better than he could bend it, so he hired Adam Woodley and his crew of metal-bending maniacs over at Wide Open Design in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to whip up this wild ride. Woodley and crew have been building some of the coolest tube cars to come out of the Southeast recently, and John gave him the reins over his latest trail truck. In fact, John only went to Wide Open two or three times during the entire build, and that was to measure for seats and steering wheel placement. The rest of the time was email updates and simply letting Woodley run with the design.

The final product is really an eye catcher and, as such, will be spending a year on the local show circuit. It has already earned Best 4x4 and Best Engineered at Birmingham's World of Wheels car show. But don't expect this old truck to live its life under a car cover and California duster. John has every intention of putting purple paint on some of the harder trails in the Southeast. It's the first scratch that will hurt; the second will be fun.

Under that classic hood is a fire-breathing Mast Motorsports Chevrolet 6.0L V-8. A Be-Cool radiator fights the heat, while custom stainless steel exhaust, including Magnaflow mufflers and exhaust cutouts, dumps the fumes. Everything hides under a custom engine cover.

Special thanks to Mountainside Off Road Park ( in Gadsden, Alabama, for opening its gates for our photo shoot.

Tech Specs
1938 Chevy Pickup Buggy Drivetrain

  • Engine: Mast Motorsports LY6 6.0L V-8
  • Transmission: TH 350
  • Transfer case: Atlas 4.3
  • Front Axle: Dana 60 Chevy, ARB Air Locker, CTM U-joints, Yukon Chromoly shafts, 38-Special diff covers, 4.56 gears
  • Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock-60, ARB Air Locker, CTM U-joints, Yukon Chromoly shafts, 38-Special diff covers, 4.56 gears

Under the faux wood tonneau cover are the custom fuel tank, air tank, and radiator. Plumbing a rear-mounted radiator can be frustrating, but by running the coolant through the chassis main rails and then using AN -16 watertight fittings, the installation was flawless.


  • Springs & Such: Front four-link with 1.25 rod ends, 7075 aluminum links, and 14-inch Fox coilover shocks. Rear four-link with 1.25 rod ends, 7075 aluminum links, and 16-inch Fox coilover shocks
  • Tires & Wheels: 39-inch Red Label BFGoodrich Krawlers on 17x9 Walker Evans racing wheels
  • Steering: Fully hydraulic double-ended rams front and rear
  • Other Stuff: Custom everything, Corbeau seats, CNC brakes, RacePak digital gauges, four underbelly trail cameras, Warn RC winch

PhotosView Slideshow

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