Paul Knowlson was in search of a '36 Ford pickup to take him back to his teenage years when he owned a '36 Blue Oval pickup. One day he received a phone call from a woman in Australia and she told Paul she had a '36 Ford, but it was a Ute. Knowing about the rarity of a '36 Ute, Paul made the woman an offer she couldn't refuse. It was only the body, less frame, engine, drive train, and interior. The Ute was crated up then shipped in a sea/land container and delivered to Paul in Muskegon, Michigan.
His unique '36 Ute body was mated with a '39 Ford pickup frame then trailered to Geralds's Hot Rods in New Paris, Indiana. Shop owner Gerald Kupeerus and Kevin Yankey collaborated with Paul sketching out their visual ideas for Project Ute. After discussing, reviewing and making changes to renderings they decided to maintain the classic hood, grille, headlights and fenders up front. The rear portion would take on a more radical appearance, while still maintaining its original shape. After their final discussion and agreements, Gerald assigned the project to Kevin Yankey, who at the time was only 25 years old, to build Mr. Knowlan's '36 Ute. The overall journey took Kevin seven years to complete.
The foundation of the Ute is a '39 Ford frame. Its rails were boxed and a TCI front cross member with independent front suspension was fused between the framerails. A Chevy 350ci small-block mock-up engine and 700-R4 automatic transmission were used to locate the engine and tranny mounts that were then welded in place. The removable transmission crossmember was then located and bolted to the framerails. The Ute's front suspension is vertically lifted by a pair of Air Ride Technologies Shockwave adjustable airbags. The front end rolls on a pair of polished billet aluminum Colorado Custom Slater Superior 18x7-inch wheels with Michelin 215/35ZR18 rubber. A pair of Baer brakes with 14-inch diameter cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers are responsible for decelerating and stopping the front rotating mass. A Flaming River power steering rack system takes the grunt out of turning left and right. The rear suspension is an Air Ride triangulated four-link system with coilover shocks and Shockwave 'bags. Looking under the rear fenders, aluminum Colorado Custom 20x12-inch Slater Superior wheels are wrapped in chubby 315/30ZR20 Michelin rubber. To handle the massive rear polished billet wheels and wide tires, Kevin had Moser Engineering in Portland, Indiana, narrow the Ford 9-inch axle housing and '70 Ford Torino 31 splined axles a total of 5 inches. Before the axles were slid into the rear housing, a set of Richmond 3:56 gears were stuffed inside the differential. A pair of 14-inch rotors and four-piston calipers were hung on each end of the Ford 9-inch to brake the horsepower when needed.