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MR&C Jan 2022 - no colour bars-26_edited

Scott Duncan has been building hot rods and rat

rods as a hobby for quite a few years now. I first met Scott in 2012 when he crossed in front of me at the lights in Borden-Carleton just before the Confederation Bridge. At the time he was driving a flat black, flamed, 1950 Chev

pickup which he still drives today. Fast forward nine

years, and at the exact same intersection, a COE rat rod

truck crosses my path. I had an idea I know where it was

headed, and just as I thought, it stopped at Scott’s shop.


Although Scott has had his fair share of shiny hot rods and muscle cars (his first car was a ’72 Chevelle convertible), he can’t stand to see them dusty or dirty. Both of which are the default on an island made of red sand… So once Scott started to embrace rat rod culture and simplified paint schemes, he hasn’t missed maintaining shiny paint and worrying about stray children at car shows.


The ’38 Ford COE is Scott’s eighth build to date. Scott came across the cab for sale in Moncton on Kijiji in 2019. He drove over and picked it up, but upon getting it home wished he’d left it in Moncton. Although the cab was complete, including the headlights and side vent panels (both of which would be impossible to source), the cab floor was completely rotten. Not easily dissuaded by the state of the cab, Scott decided he was going to build it to resemble a mini-rig.

The design started with a donor ’81 GMC camper that Scott had laying around the shop yard. He started the build by removing the complete ¾ ton chassis from under the camper. Too long for the look he was after, Scott 

shortened the frame 5’ and moved the back axle forward.

He kept the 1-ton rear axle, but lengthened the axle tubes and removed a couple of leaves from the original springs. Scott also kept the stock front suspension, but replaced the original ¾ ton springs with a new set, and added disc brakes. The back brakes are the original drums, but both sets are powered by the GMC camper’s hydoboost brake system.

Scott also decided to keep the original 4-bolt engine (350/350HP) and transmission (200R4 w/overdrive) from

the camper, but added a new timing chain, aluminum intake, and a set of Corvette block hugger headers that feed a 3” exhaust with cherry bomb mufflers tucked inside the custom 6” stacks. Scott designed the stacks so that they would be cool to the touch, no matter how long the truck was driven.


Definitely the star of the build, and in need of the most work, Scott spent 100’s of hours making the cab fit and

functional. He welded the fenders to the cab and completely rebuilt the floor from scratch, integrating mounts that would fit directly onto the GM body mounts on the frame. Not wanting to cut the frame, or modify the suspension, Scott channeled the body over the frame as much as possible to give it a lowered, raked stance. Once the floor was complete, he built a custom doghouse to fit over the 350, and built integrated side steps that started out as left over cuts from a ’64 Chev stepside build he completed years ago. Originally he was going to use a cube van bumper that fit perfectly, but decided that he would use the front bumper from a ’55 Caddy that a late friend had given him before sending the

caddy parts car to the junk yard. Scott also fashioned a

custom rad surround that he used for a 60’s Rambler rad that had been given to him by another friend. Now complete, Scott laid two coats of Tremclad flat white with a brush, before spraying some flat leather brown patina highlights.

To complete the “mini-rig” look of the build, Scott made two faux stainless side tanks from hot water heaters

he found at a local junk yard. The fifth wheel that he

scavenged from behind his shop and cleaned up, although not functional, adds weight to the back of the truck. The rear fenders are cut down tractor trailer fenders that Scott was given for free. The visor over the front windows is custom fabricated from left over road signs.

The interior is completely custom. Scott built seats from plywood and covered them in reclaimed vinyl from a hot tub cover that was punctured by a falling tree in his backyard. The door panels are reclaimed wood

underlayment, and the headliner is a Mexican blanket from one of his trips to the Caribbean. The tilt steering column came from the donor camper, the shifter is a dash mounted unit from an early 70’s dodge camper, and the speedometer is from a Volkswagen that is placed in a license plate dash plate and held in place with a tractor trailer taillight rubber. Scott also added a glove box and door to the original dash.


So if you’ve been keeping score up until now, Scott

is the ultimate budget builder. He hates to buy anything

new and would rather re-purpose things laying around the shop, or pieces that he finds in the local junk yard or friend’s garages. That being said, he is adamant about safety. All the brake lines and wiring were replaced, and everything in the suspension is built stronger than required. The truck is completely safety inspected, and in his words “cruises does the highway like a dream.” At the time of the photo shoot and interview, Scott had sold the COE to its new owner in Nova Scotia. Paul Sidney is a retired truck driver and can’t wait to drive his first ever hot rod in the Spring of 2022.

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