When most car enthusiasts see an interesting vehicle driving around, they take a photo. When Jay Leno sees a car that gets his attention, he invites the owner to his garage.
This 1948 Ford F6 rat rod was spotted during a shoot at the Circle G Movie Ranch in California. It's owned by Brett Gregory, the ranch's CEO, who explains in the latest episode of "Jay Leno's Garage" that this build checked many boxes for him. He wanted a rat rod, a tow truck, and something with a supercharged engine—and ended up getting all three in one custom truck.
The truck's cartoonish proportions were created by moving the front axle forward 24 inches, chopping the roof 5.0 inches, and modifying the rear of the chassis so the bed sits lower between the dual rear wheels. The wheels are wrapped in period-correct bias-ply tires, and were taken from a Dodge RV, as was the Dana rear axle. The headlights are from a 1942 Chevrolet, and the truck sports rear running lights from a 1950 Pontiac.
A 350-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 with a Weiand 6-71 supercharger from a Chevrolet Vega race car replaced the stock inline-6. It's detuned, running 8-9 psi boost and 91 octane fuel, which Gregory estimates is good for 400-450 hp. He claims the engine is capable of making up to 18 psi of boost, which, with 114 octane racing fuel, could increase output into the 600-hp range. But that's probably more than anyone would want in a rat-rodded 1940s tow truck with bias-ply tires.
The truck might look well-used, but some of that patina was created by spraying a solution of muriatic acid and water onto new parts. Some color and a light clear coat were added, preserving the patinated look while allowing the surfaces to age naturally. The truck was purchased without a bed; the current bed and tow rig were fabricated.
The weathered theme carries over to the interior, but hides some modern conveniences. A modern audio system sits behind the stock dashboard fascia, and there's a rearview camera as well.
As usual, Jay gets a chance to drive the truck at the end of the video, and it turns out to be a unique experience. Jay recommends changing to the bias-ply tires to radials, however, and Mr. Gregory agrees.
A custom vehicle should be unique, and with its eclectic assortment of parts, that's exactly what this Ford is.