Rick Lance's 1947 Diamond T Model 509
(from Volume 23, Issue 266)

story and photos by Michael B. Kelly


When Rick Lance was looking for his next project, he wanted something unique. He found this 1947 Diamond T Model 509 two-ton truck in 2006, and bought it off eBay from Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas (which is featured on the popular Discovery TV series Fast N’ Loud). Though the truck was in pretty rough shape at the time, Rick would transform it over several years into what you see now.

Rick started his work with a chassis from a 3/4 ton 1978 Suburban that he bought from a friend. Rick narrowed the whole frame, so the front tires would fit inside the wheel openings. He then cut the Suburban frame off at the rear of the cab, and made his own frame from there back which incorporated his own chrome-moly 4-link rear suspension. Along with making all of his own brackets to connect everything, Rick also designed his own air bag mounts to be able to haul any amount of weight. The rear sway bar with splined ends was adapted from a stock car, and he also made an adjustable panhard bar. The rear end is a 14-bolt unit with floating hubs out of the Suburban, while up front he used one-ton rotors, which fit on the 3/4-inch stock spindles with a lot of modifications. Adjustable Rancho shocks are used on all four corners, in conjunction with the air bags all around. Fuel is housed in a 105 gallon aluminum gas tank built by Rick, which supplies the motor and the 6010kw Honda generator.

The 350 cubic inch Vortec motor was built by Byron Koury, who has built all of Rick’s motors for years, and was dynoed at 352 horsepower and 390 ft. lbs. of torque. To keep things cool Rick bought a blank aluminum radiator and added the inlet and outlet how he wanted them, then sealed it to the original grill. It has a Cooling Components electric fan with a Hotronic fan relay system, which keeps the motor temp at 170 degrees. The motor was fitted with a set of Sanderson headers, to which Rick added his own custom exhaust with Dynomax 5-inch mufflers and 5-inch chrome stacks. He made two sets of glasspacks that can be dropped down inside of the stacks to quiet it down, and made a tool to be able to take them out if wanted. The big 22.5 inch aluminum truck rims have had the holes enlarged by a CNC machine, and the tires are 36-inches tall. Combined with a Ken Wells built TH400 automatic transmission and 3.73:1 rear end gears the motor turns 2,100 RPMs at 75 mph, so there was no need for an overdrive.

The cab was left stock, and not chopped. Though Rick did change the angle at the toe part of the floor to increase leg room. The gas pedal is from a brass drum, and the transmission tunnel is an upside down big block Chevy oil pan. The brake system utilizes a Hydroboost, which Rick designed to be under the floor board, giving the firewall a smooth and clean look. The flat bed was custom built by Rick, with two aluminum tool boxes that he modified to fit across the front of the bed. He had the original Diamond T emblem water jetted into the rear cross member of the bed, which now does double duty as a third brake light. AmeraTrail Powdercoating was responsible for all of the powdercoating throughout the truck, including the flatbed. The much talked about hood ornament features the “Angry Duck” from the 1978 movie “Convoy”, which Rick mounted to a modified version of the Diamond T’s original hood ornament for a factory appearance.

Those who have been into the Florida car scene for many years may already be familiar with Rick Lance....though maybe not for the 1947 Diamond T you see here, but because of the previous vehicles he has built. His first Pro-Street car was a 1972 Vega Panel Wagon he built back in 1984. Next he built a powder blue Pro-Street 1951 Chevy Pickup nicknamed “Pro ‘51”, which in its first incarnation had a Top Fuel style rear wing, which was then replaced with a Pro Mod style wing. This truck appeared in numerous national magazines, was the third ever Cruiser Of The Month at Old Town in Kissimmee, and was always a hit at the car shows. While the truck had already been completed for a few years, it was during this time that we first met Rick, back in 1992. Rick then built a red 1948 Chevy 4x4 Pickup that was used as a mud truck, which was featured many years ago on the cover of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News in a Christmas scene hauling toys. He then built a 1948 Chevy all aluminum bread delivery van that was lowered, powered by a small block Chevy, and was really cool.

Wherever Rick goes with his wild Diamond T it certainly gets attention, since it is so unique. It defies convention, as it is part rat rod, part semi truck, part custom....but all cool! Rick has even more plans in store for it, and based on the creative and quality work he has always done, I’m sure it will continue to evolve nicely. CN