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Taking a 1934 Dodge Truck Back in Time

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With a pinch of this and a dashboard of that, Jeremy Bach of Belleville, Ill., used a hodgepodge recipe that called for creativity and skill to assemble a 1934 Dodge truck, which in turn took home awards on its first foray into the auto show forum.

Oh yeah—his father, Mike Bach, and a couple of the body men at Mike Bach Auto Body would have choice words for Jeremy if he didn’t give them ample credit for helping with the showpiece truck. So, hats off to the talented Rick Monte and Steve Kolmer, whose expertise helped ensure that its pieces aligned and its halves could be called symmetrical. Good thing, too, because the artist inside Jeremy Bach would have it look no less than perfect, allowing him to learn firsthand how grueling, time-consuming and costly it was to tackle a renovation that might be worthy of awards.

In 2002, then-19-year-old Jeremy Bach had worked around his dad’s shop since he was 15, and he already had one rebuild project under his belt: He’d done a good portion of the reassembly on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air while he was in high school. So when his dad came home from Indianapolis with the rusted shell of a 1934 Dodge truck, Bach’s creative mind began to conceive a new reconstruction project.             

Putting to work some of the skills he learned in high school (“I took every art class they had,” Bach says. “Ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting.”), he rendered a drawing of the future truck, planning to lengthen the cab by 9 inches and how far to chop it so it didn’t sit too low or too high.

He began collecting old parts that might fit with the truck, finding a use for a set of four fenders that had been headed for the trash. During the two years he dedicated evenings and weekends to the project, Bach also studied welding and metalworking, practicing the new art forms on the truck that was taking shape inside his father’s shop. With his parents’ considerable financial help, he invested tens of thousands of dollars in the 1934 Dodge, finishing it in 2004 in time for the Midwestern Nationals automobile show in Kansas City, Mo.

The rehabilitated vehicle was sporting new components, the likes of which its antique styling had never before seen, including a 360-hp Mopar Magnum engine and a 727 Chrysler transmission; Billet Specialties wheels, BF Goodrich tires and an air-ride suspension; and an Alpine stereo system.

Parking the lustrous black truck among the thousands of entries, Bach found that the rewards for all of his hard work were immediate when a crowd gathered around the 1934 showpiece, marveling at its unique look and sleek, stylish lines. That year the truck won its most prestigious award to date as the Pro’s Pick at the 6th Midwestern Nationals. Most recently, the Dodge took home honors with NAPA Trick Truck Award in Joliet, Ill., at the 1st Chicagoland Nationals in September.

Today, Bach’s work of art is valued at between $60,000 and $70,000—another good thing, since he plans to sell the truck to help pay for his next project: a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino, on which the 24-year-old will take what he learned rebuilding the Dodge and apply it once again. It’s the same thing that surprised him the most about classic restoration, he says, aside from how many hours it takes to build a really nice car. “It’s amazing what you can do with starting with so little.”

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