We occasionally hear the term “gangster” being used to describe a mean looking show truck, and this got us thinking: what kind of truck would an actual gangster drive? Back in the ’30s, Al Capone himself was known to roll in a heavily armored Cadillac, and famous bootleggers and thugs often showed off their high-powered V-8 Mercurys or flashy Rolls-Royce convertibles. All these vehicles were fast, heavily modified, and rarely subtle. Continuing this tradition, Miller Mantovanelli of Medley, Florida, created a 1940 Dodge pickup that is the absolute epitome of the term “gangster.”
With the chrome velocity stacks exceeding the height of the cab, it’s safe to say this Dodge makes serious statement.
It all began in true hot-rodding fashion, with a rusty hull of this classic Dodge arriving on a flatbed. At his shop, MCW Customs, Miller created a one-off fabricated chassis from 3x4-inch tube steel, which he then reinforced and cross-drilled for added style. Z’d front and rear framerails drop the truck’s midsection considerably, and a 6-inch body drop sets the rockers firmly against the asphalt. The front suspension consists of a 5-inch lowered I-beam setup, with Slam Specialties ’bags and Carrera shocks. Out back, a custom four-link was created using classic Jaguar components and more Slam Specialties ’bags. Two sets of wheels were selected for a vintage dragster-style look -- 18-inch Radir spindle-mounts up front and 15x8 Boyd Coddingtons in the rear.
With a stance imposing enough for any Mafioso, it was time for a powerplant of near-absurd proportions. First, a 1942 331ci V-8 block was sourced, and fit with ported and polished heads and a thunderous Isky Racing cam. Stacked on top of the already hefty motor are an enormous Dyer’s 6V71 roots blower and triple carburetors. With the chrome velocity stacks exceeding the height of the cab, it’s safe to say this Dodge makes a serious statement. After fabricating a pair of custom straight-pipes, the engine was paired with a built Chevy three-speed transmission. This all spins a custom driveshaft and Jaguar quick-change rearend with 3.73 gears. Miller has yet to get a final horsepower figure for the build, but we’re sure it’s more than enough to propel the 2,900-pound hot rod to terrifying speeds.
Next on the itinerary were paint, body, and interior refinements. The Dodge’s cab was chopped eight inches and sectioned three more, then fit with a redesigned firewall and split windshield. A heavily customized bobbed bed was installed out back, and the grille, headlights, taillights, and door handles from a classic Ford were installed. MCW Customs then sprayed the truck in PPG Root Beer metallic, leaving the firewall white with pinstriped accents. The interior features aluminum bucket seats, a dragster steering wheel, a custom piston shifter, and a paint-matched air tank on the transmission tunnel.
With plenty of over-the-top one-off modifications and a truly mean appearance, we’re confident any respectable mobster would approve of this blown Dodge. Best of all, it was a true hot-rod–style garage build, with all work done in-house with basic tools at MCW Customs. Miller would like to thank Derek Campbell of DC Roadsters, Cosme Dorado of Almi Body Shop, Eddie Haynes, his wife Ena, and his friends and family for encouraging him.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 1940 Dodge Pickup
Owner and City/State: Miller Mantovanelli • Medley, Florida
Type: 1942 331ci V-8
Heads: Ported and polished
Cam: Isky Racing
Induction: Dyer’s 6V71 supercharger, triple carburetors with velocity stacks
Exhaust: MCW Customs 2½-inch straight-pipes
Ignition: Magneto distributor, MSD plug wires, relocated Braille battery
Built by: Eddie Haynes • Daytona Beach, Florida
Transmission: Chevy three-speed manual with straight-cut gears, hydraulic throw-out bearing, and shortened driveshaft
Rearend: Jaguar quick-change differential with 3.73 gears
Front suspension: MCW Customs one-off 3x4-inch steel tube chassis, 5-inch lowered I-beam front axle, Slam Specialties ’bags, Carrera shocks
Rear suspension: MCW Customs one-off 3x4-inch steel tube chassis, MCW Customs four-link, Slam Specialties ’bags
Brakes: Wilwood single-piston disc
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Radir 18-inch spindle-mount front, Boyd Coddington 15x8 rear
Tires: Firestone 3.60x18 front, Hurst 30x8x15 slicks rear
The chopped and sectioned cab’s interior features several custom-fabricated components, in
The bobbed bed reveals a 15-gallon stainless gas tank, custom four-link suspension, inboar