Keith Ward's 1933 Ford Pickup
(from Volume 16, Issue 179)

At our annual Beach Blast car show in Cocoa Beach, the vehicle that receives the most participant votes is awarded Best Of Show honors, and is then featured on the cover and in the center spread of an upcoming issue of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News magazine. At our 15th annual show on May 17th, 2009, that vehicle was Keith Ward’s 1933 Ford Pickup. So after the other vehicles had leisurely left the promenade at the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach Resort, we took shots of Keith’s pickup before he departed for his home in the Jacksonville area, and later learned that like many old vehicles you see at car shows, it has a bit of history tied to it once you get to talking to the owner.

Before Keith owned the 1933 Ford Pickup it belonged to one of the founders of the Jacksonville Rod Runners car club, Chuck Kutcha. Chuck purchased the ‘33 back in 1967 from the Jacksonville area, and used it to work on clearing and maintaining property he and his family owned. Chuck, Connie and some friends formed the Rod Runners shortly after that, and some of the first meetings were held off the tailgate of the ‘33 Ford Pickup. Chuck later started working on the truck, but it ultimately wound up being stored in his garage in 1969. Thirty years later his son Chip took ownership of the truck he had seen in his dad’s garage since he was a kid. That is where Keith comes into the picture. Being a long time member of the Jacksonville Rod Runners himself, and a friend of the Kutcha family, Keith was there when Chip decided to part with the truck to complete other projects, and bought it in 1999.

With the original Henry Ford steel body and frame, no running gear, faded primer but no rust, Keith knew it was the perfect candidate for a street rod. At the time though Keith was working on a couple of his own projects, so the ‘33 Ford Pickup would have to wait a little longer. Years later Keith, some club members and their respective families decided to go to Columbus, Ohio for a Goodguys show, and while there they toured some area rod shops. That included Lobeck’s V8 Shop, and it was there that Keith purchased a new frame for the truck. Lobeck said he could deliver the fame to the Street Rod Nationals in Tampa that October, but when the show came around Keith got a call saying the frame was not quite ready - but they would deliver it to Keith’s shop shortly after. This worked out better for Keith, getting delivery included, so he was all for it.

Upon receiving the new frame he was excited to get started, but soon other projects became higher priorities, so the ‘33 Ford Pickup fell to the bottom of the list again. At this point Keith wound up selling the truck to a friend, and then horse traded and got it back - with the truck never actually leaving his shop. The Lobeck frame however did change locations, and when it came back to Keith in the trade it had a new 350/350 drivetrain combination. Keith’s friend Ron Hess had a small fab shop at the time, so he traded out some work with him to install the Bitchin’ fire wall and floor boards. While the truck was there another friend, Danny Smith, took over the shop space to open a paint and body shop - Danny’s Custom Creations. Danny is a great painter so it was an easy decision for Keith to hire him to do the paint and body work. Like all good shops, Danny had work lined up, so Keith decided to bump the ‘33 Ford Pickup out of line so he could get his ‘67 Camaro painted instead. The ‘33 was on hold again, but when the time came for it to finally be painted Danny and Jim (Bondo) Budner hit it hard, preparing the body and doing some slight body modifications. Once painted Ron Hess fabricated the stainless exhaust and other specialty items needed to complete the truck, then it came back to Keith’s shop for some finishing touches. When it was time for the interior accommodations to be addressed the ‘33 was brought to Ed Schreck at Schreck Custom Upholstery and Auto Trim in DeLand.

After 30 years in storage and another 10 years in Keith’s possession, the little cream and blue 1933 Ford Pickup was reaching completion. Items include a 350 Chevy motor with Mooneyes finned aluminum valve covers and breathers, an Edelbrock 600 cfm carb, and a 350 automatic transmission. The Lobeck frame now has a Mustang II front suspension with polished A arms, Wilwood front disc brakes, 4-bar rear suspension with a 9-inch Ford rear end, stock gas tank, and Billet Specialties rims (17-inch fronts, 18-inch rears) wrapped in Michelin tires. The original Ford seat was modified, then covered in cream leather with alligator inserts, and is joined by an Ididit steering column topped by a Billet Specialties steering wheel and Shark gauges.

Though the truck was about 40 years in the making, most would agree that the results are what really matter - and as you can see it came out beautiful. With so many high quality vehicles on hand for Beach Blast 15 it was Keith’s truck that received the most participants votes, so we are happy to share with you here what others have already confirmed they appreciate. Not that we couldn’t tell the truck would be popular from the moment we laid eyes on it. CN