Multiple Builders Add Their Skills to This Trophy-Winning Showstopper 1938 Dodge pickup Names SKR8PN!
Building a show-winning custom truck is always a challenge. It demands a combination of art, science, sweat, determination and typically a boatload of cash. It takes careful coordination, vision, more time than you ever expected and patience before your dream ride ever rolls into that first award ceremony. Jim Branch, from Mansfield, Ohio, understands the concept well, having devoted years to the creation of this beautiful 1938 Dodge pickup truck. A certified auto inspector and Chrysler master technician, Jim is a bona fide MOPAR fan. When he found this truck in Missouri back in 2000, it was running, driving and almost all original. The distinctive styling and the rarity of the Dodge made it the perfect canvas for a modern custom.
Guided by a rendering from Jason Rushforth that provided both visual guidelines and inspiration, Jim had some specific ideas about the truck, wanting it to be all MOPAR and a careful blend of old and new. While some elements of nostalgia are worth preserving, most half-century-old technology is not. The Dodge pickup was an analog dinosaur needing an introduction to a 5G world. Creating a subtle package of wideband upgrades was the challenge, modernizing the truck without diminishing its essential DNA.
The first step in the transformation was eliminating the original horse and buggy-level suspension. Wanting something that could handle cross-county as well as cross-country excursions, Jim contacted Art Morrison, ordering a custom chassis with double A-arms up front and a four-link holding a Strange 3.89 rear. Flaming River rack-and-pinion power steering keeps the truck pointed in the right direction while four-piston Wilwood discs guarantee modern stopping power. Thanks to a full air bag suspension, the truck drops to a ground-hugging profile at the touch of a button. The stance was enhanced with a set of Chrysler Prowler rims, 17-inches up front and 20-inch versions in the rear. The result was luxury car smoothness coupled with serious autocross potential.
Obviously, the old 75 hp Flathead six had to go and—respecting Dodge DNA—the truck now runs a 1995 Magnum 360 V-8, bored out to 408 ci. Jim added several internal tweaks that included a Comp Cam, Eagle rods, Mahle pistons, and ported and polished Dodge heads. The throttle body intake and custom exhaust suck in and blow out, directing an estimated 500 hp to the modified four-speed automatic. Chrome, stainless steel, hidden wires and a uniquely fabricated firewall (with a subtle steel wheelbarrow insert!) rack up engine room show points. To recognize the truck’s new lower profile, Jim added the distinctive SKR8PN valve covers.
The primary change to the exterior is the 6-inch body drop that improved both looks and handling. Door handles in the stock location mask the fact that the doors have been suicided. Sporting a pair of rare Dodge Brothers emblems, the distinctive grille is flanked by perfectly scaled modern headlights while sculpted engine side panels match the shape of the side-exiting exhaust. Since the original body came from the factory with beautiful flowing lines, Jim enhanced the front end by removing the front bumper, then joined front and rear fenders with smooth, one-piece running boards. Bed work began with mini tubs, a bed floor raised to accommodate the suspension and all seams filled. The smooth tailgate contrasts with the harp-shaped bed supports and the rear pan that blends seamlessly into the fenders. While not great for a hauling a load of gravel, the bed is perfectly suited to handle carefully stowed, bubble-wrapped trophies earned at last weekend’s show!
Unfortunately, after years of work, Jim was not able to see the truck through to completion. Medical issues and frustration with the shop involved led to the sale of the truck, with the next buyer completing the elegant white leather interior, now a beautiful blend of comfort, refinement and luxury. Stretching across the dash is a collection of Classic Instruments, complete with an analog clock on top with controls and vents for the Vintage Air along the bottom. A modern Sony head unit resides in the center console, filling the cab with music from the 8-inch coaxial speakers. The console also holds the shifter for the MOPAR 518 overdrive trans. The final step was the bright custom mixed red paint, sprayed by the local BMW dealer.
Many talented professionals were involved in its creation, and the O’Steens may even add a few mods of their own. Either way, they are planning to enjoy their cool vintage Dodge for years to come.
If you’ve been in the custom truck hobby for any length of time, you understand that being an owner also means being a caretaker. You’re in charge as long as it’s in your driveway but after a while, even the best of rides move on to new owners.
After spending time with the second owner, the truck was once again on the auction block, and this time it was purchased by its current custodian, Dexter O’Steen.
Dexter and his wife Sarajo are from Alachua, Florida. They are both actively involved in the family construction business and enjoy their extensive 15-car collection. When a friend discovered the Dodge in Moultrie, Georgia, he immediately called Dexter telling him that it would make the perfect addition to his collection. Dexter contacted the seller, and it was love at first sight. (You should know that Dexter’s business uses 75 pieces of heavy equipment along with 25 dump trucks, all painted red. That meant the bright red Dodge would fit in perfectly!)
When a friend discovered the Dodge in Moultrie, Georgia, he immediately called Dexter telling him that it would make the perfect addition to his collection. Dexter contacted the seller, and it was love at first sight.
Naturally, he brought it home the next day. Dexter and Sarajo take their role as custodians seriously, having already established a place of honor in their new multi-car garage. Many talented professionals were involved in its creation, and the O’Steens may even add a few mods of their own. Either way, they are planning to enjoy their cool vintage Dodge for years to come.
Dexter and Sarajo O’Steen
1938 Dodge pickup
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
- 1995 Magnum 360 V-8, 500hp
- Currently 408 ci
- MOPAR Performance throttle body
- Ported and polished Dodge heads.
- Comp Cam roller hydraulic cam
- Eagle rods
- Mahle pistons
- Custom exhaust
- SKR8PN valve covers
- Fabricated radiator core support
- MOPAR A518 overdrive four-speed automatic.
- Jim Branch, Builder, Mansfield, Ohio
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
- Art Morrison custom chassis
- Mustang II front end
- Four-link rear
- Strange 3.89 rear
- Jeep Cherokee 18-gallon fuel tank
- Flaming River rack and pinion power steering
- Four-piston Wilwood discs
- Ridetech air suspension
- Air suspension components hidden under the bed
WHEELS & TIRES
- Chrysler 17/20-inch Prowler rims
- BFG COMP T/A Radials P295/40ZR 20, rear
- BFG COMP T/A Radials P225/45ZR 17, front
EXTERIOR & PAINT
- 6-inch body drop
- Suicide doors
- Custom grille
- Front bumper eliminated
- Chrome motorcycle headlights
- Sculpted engine side panels
- One piece running boards
- Custom side-exiting exhausts
- Re arched rear fenders
- Raised and contoured bed floor
- Mini tubs
- Bed-mounted gas filler door
- Harp-shaped bed supports
- Smooth tailgate
- Custom rear pan
- Dodge passenger car taillights
- BMW custom red paint.
- Jim Branch, Builder, Mansfield, Ohio
- Interior painted to match
- White leather upholstery on custom seats
- White leather door panels, headliner, and center console
- ididit column, Grant wheel
- Lokar Shifter
- Classic Instruments
- Vintage Air A/C
- SONY stereo