Driving Billy's Truck
Sliding into the truck's Jaguar driving seat it's hard not to turn your head to the right and look for a bearded man in a hat and cheap sunglasses riding shotgun. But alas it is not to be.
The steering wheel feels good while the shifter has a high angle inside the cab. The engine starts right on the button and there's plenty of pedal space, even for the big-footed. Finding the gears isn't a problem, but it's not a speed- shift quick change. But it's not supposed to be. Give it a bit of gas and the engine thrumps and chuffs happily. The truck pulls away cleanly and it's clear to see how and why Kirby put so many miles on it in the early days. It's big fun to drive, as comfortable as it can be, even for a six-footer and cruises along no problem. Billy must love wheeling this thing around.
But of course, it's so much more than just a collection of well chosen parts and Billy knew it. Kirby remembers that day at the Street Rod Nationals very well. "I think what really grabbed Billy's attention was the surfboard I'd mounted on an old wishbone. Billy was riding 'round the showground in the back of a convertible. I saw him straight away-he's kind of hard to miss. He stopped the car and you could tell he was looking at the truck. He got out and started asking questions about it and before I knew it, we'd come to a deal. We hung out together for a few hours that day. It was pretty neat."
Just like the rest of us, Billy is always on the lookout for a new car, or project, but trucks weren't on his mind the day he met Kirby. "Not a bit," laughs Billy, remembering that day at the fairground. "Yet the stance and from-a-distance glance kept bringing us back." But does the little Ford stack up next to landmark cars such as the Eliminator Coupe and Cadzzilla? "Without a doubt!" says Billy. "Straight pipes out of a flathead manifold can set you free." Gibbons' enthusiasm for these cars and the scene really is a life-affirming thing and he clearly gets a huge kick out of owning the little Ford. "It feels great and at the same time it's a welcome challenge that'll keep you on point. It's about creating a vehicle with just the right stance and profile. Up 'til now the unfinished raspiness and rude roughness this truck stands for was something one formerly used to attempt to overcome. Out of all the cars we've built and added to the collection this one is a genuine delight cuz it's a rugged and carefree go-anywhere kind of a rod. It's a gas!"
You get the feeling that Billy and Kirby's paths would have crossed, no matter what. Both men have an innate sense of what a car should look like, how it should sit, move and what it should represent. "The future is now and anything goes," says Billy when quizzed about the state of hot rodding in 2010. "The real enjoyment of making one's personal statement is wide open. Run what'cha brung." And so say all of us.
Special thanks to: Billy F Gibbons, Kirby Stafford (dillehaystreet.com) and Tony Thacker