Truck Builder Magazine, December 2001Truck Builder, December 2001

"Theory Of Acceleration: The Retirement Plan in Motion."
Story by Bob Carpenter
Cover photo by Scott Killeen.

The Henne family has always liked hot rods. Steven and Ronda would often talk about what kind of car or truck they would someday like to have. The discussions seemed to center on having a vehicle completed by the time they retired. Now, the Hennes are not even 50 yet, but they figured it would take them about 15 years to finish the project. Plenty of time to putz around in the garage. This was definitely a long-range planning mission.

As various cars were tossed about as potential subjects, it eventually became clear that a pickup was their favorite candidate. After a good project '55 Ford F-100 pickup was located and pruchased, the Hennes set about stripping the truck. They meticulously removed part after part.

After about nine months of work, they were all the way down to the frame. And that frame had problems. Repairing the frame would require more skills than Steven and Ronda possesed. So they shopped around for a street rod shop that could fix the frame for them. After a very careful process of determining who could best do the work, the Hennes agreed to have the work done at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California (760/745-1170).

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff's Randy Clark is a fine gentleman. He's a true hot rodder, and he loves trucks. He builds some of the most outrageous vehicles. When you ask a man like Clark to fix your frame, he doesn't just put a patch here and a weld there. He goes all the way. The Hennes must have been dumbfounded when they saw the quality of the work. They immediately realized that Hot Rods & Custom Stuff was going to have to build this truck. There was no other way.

Nine Months later, the beauty you see on these pages was completed. Nine months. The Hennes still aren't in their 50's, and retirement is many years away. What are they going to do in 15 years? Who Cares! They're having the time of their life right now.

During the construction of their '55 Ford, Steven and Ronda visited the Hot Rods & Custom Stuff facility every Friday. They sat down with Clark and talked about the progress, the timetable, the work scheduled for the next week, and changes in the build plan. Ah, yes, the famous "changes" that customers always want mid-stream in a project. Now, to be fair, the Henne family should be forgiven for any changes, because their timetable was accelerated beyond belief. The first change was probably power steering. Then power brakes became an obvious necessity. Disc brakes, of course, make sense. And Californians sure do like their air conditioning. Independent front suspension was deemed necessary for a comfortable ride, and that was achieved through a Total Cost Involved kit. And then, and then, and then. Before you knew it, the truck was scheduled for power windows.

But, through it all, the Hennes (and Clark) were able to stay true to an original idea. The truck would look basically stock on the outside, maintiaing the door handles, bumpers and more. But, by the time the crew was done, the truck was a masterpiece, a perfect blend of form and function. And that House of Kolor Tengelo Pearl paint didn't hurt things, either.

They've been picking up trophies right and left, including a prestigious Boyd Coddington Sweet 16 Award at the Goodguys show in Del Mar, California. The trophies were an unexpected bonus. The Henne family really had no plans to create a show vehicle. They drive it to local shows and will continue to add miles to the odometer until they reach retirement age. Maybe the truck will need to be rebuilt by then. TB

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Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, 2324 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA., 1-800-HOT-ROD-5.

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff - builds, restores, paints, services and sells parts for classic autos, cars, trucks and street rods.