I’m a huge fan of the Butcher Truck C-Cab built by Dan Woods. 45 years ago, Bob Reed’s Country Butcher Shop C-Cab was a spectacular study in contrasts. With a custom built interpretation of a boxy 1909 Ford Model T light delivery car mounted on the street rod equivalent of a sophisticated Formula One race car chassis, the Butcher Truck was true cover car material.
What’s cool is that it’s still around, well-preserved and (last I checked) for sale. But first, how did such a unique T-based hot rod come to be created? It’s an interesting story of C-Cab street rod evolution that started back in 1963 when a teenager became inspired to build a rod that was truly different.
When Dan Woods built the Milk Truck C-cab show rod while still in high school in 1964, he exercised some chassis creativity that had not been seen before. The chromed single Corvair coil sprung front axle was a real show stopper.
But so was the entire vehicle, which accounted for its unprecedented sweepstakes win in its premier at the Tridents’ Show in Los Angeles.
Dan’s coil spring suspension expertise was put to use both front and rear on the Druid Princess to great effect. As for Jake Jacobs, he moved on after his Roth stint to several endeavors in the street rod world, a stint at Rod & Custom magazine and the founding of Pete & Jake’s hot rod parts.
After Dan left Roth’s he started working at J&J Chassis and enrolled in college. Shown in the above photo with Mark Morton, later of Hop Up magazine fame.
One of Dan’s college design projects took form as the mold for a stylized C-Cab body.
Several distinctly different C-Cabs were built by Dan and others who purchased the bodies from Dan’s mold.
And before answering his country’s call to serve in Vietnam Dan had taken note of the advanced suspension geometry used by famous American Formula One racer and designer, Dan Gurney. Together with Roth alum, Ed Newton, Dan envisioned the C-Cab hot rod of the future.
After return from his tour of duty, Dan set about finishing the Ice Truck, a low-slung performance chassis street rod like had never been seen before. Which brings us up to the subject at hand, the Bob Reed Butcher Truck C-Cab.
Being the proprietor of a successful butcher shop in Downey, California as well as a street rod enthusiast, Bob Reed had Dan call upon a variety of talented builders for a truly unique vehicle that would not only draw attention to the business, but would also be practical enough to make deliveries if necessary, just as Henry Ford had envisioned for his Model T Light Delivery car.
The 1909 Ford C-Cab body was fabricated by Roger Jongerius of J&J Chassis in Cerritos, California.
Fowler Cabinet Works was called upon to do much of the extensive interior wood paneling.
The red oak interior firewall, however, was fabricated by Bob Trout. The updated T-traditional diamond tuft upholstery is the work of Don’s Trim Shop.
For dependable delivery power Dan chose an almost stock Ford 302 engine which was accented with Cobra valve covers and oil pan, mated to a Ford C-4 automatic transmission.
A Jim Babb brass radiator was chosen to keep things cool and the engine was wrapped with a hood by T Hood Works, who also fabricated the fenders. To cover the 302 engine, the radiator and hood were both widened a subtle two inches.
The beautiful brass era-correct headlights were from E&J Mfg. Co., and were one of the staples supplied to T builders by Dan through his Contemporary Carriage Works.
Now it’s time to get to the really good stuff: the suspension. I wish I had more suspension-only photos, but perhaps the best illustration to start is one that ran in the Street Rodder magazine May, 1973 feature on the Butcher Truck.
This was a truly spectacular 6-page feature on the Butcher Truck and it uniquely included a two-page spread of wonderfully detailed illustrations showing not only how the body came together but also the sophisticated suspension designed by Dan Woods. The very talented illustrator was Frank Dazey and after studying his illustration style I feel confident saying he was also the person who illustrated the detailed California Custom Roadsters T-Bucket Chassis Plans.
Let’s start at the rear and work forward. Dan installed a chromed Jaguar XKE independent rear suspension for comfort as well as looks. The Boranni wire wheels on both the rear and front were in keeping with the nostalgic look of the Butcher truck.
And the looks were further enhanced with a quickchange cover for the Spicer differential, plus an elegantly designed step plate for entering the rear of the C-Cab.
Of course, one of the features of the Jag IRS is the inboard disc brakes for reduced unsprung weight. Koni coil/over adjustable shocks replaced the original Jag units.
The under-chassis chrome, which includes the driveshaft, is complemented by a porcelainized exhaust system.
This under-construction chassis shot will give you an idea of what a work of art it is.
An interesting fact is that the C-Cab body goes quite well with a non-kicked frame that from a distance may not look too different from an original Model T frame. But as one gets closer that’s when the engineering details become apparent.
It’s worth noting the 4 wheel disc brakes were actuated by a Mico brake master cylinder, perhaps originally developed for use on forklifts. Dan was singularly responsible for popularizing these as the Supermaster Cylinder in the 70’s because their unique design provided some 2-1/2 times the pressure of previously used automotive master cylinders.
Looking forward you’ll see Dan Woods’ original design for a state of the art independent front suspension. It begins with spindles machined from stainless steel bar stock. The unequal length A-arms were fabricated by Dan from 4130 chrome moly tubing and feature adjustable eccentrics on both the top and bottom to permit adjustment of the spindle inclination.
Steering was accomplished with a unique arrangement of a 1972 Volvo box (and it should be noted these under-chassis photos are of the Butcher Truck in it’s current state, some 45 years later) .
The Butcher Truck’s pearl yellow paint was applied by Bill Desatoff, who also did the wiring of the C-cab. The pinstriping and gold leaf lettering were done by Tom Kelly.
All by itself, the Butcher truck looks even better than can be imagined.
Very appropriately, the Butcher Truck was featured in ads for Dan’s shop with his then partner, master aluminum fabricator Steve Davis.
Today, the Butcher Truck is for sale in running condition for the bargain price of $65,000. If interested, contact Steve at 216-406-6301. He purchased the Butcher Truck some time ago from original owner Bob Reed. To me, it’s a steal for a legendary street rod that was created 45 years ago at a cost of $15,000 back then; the equivalent of $85K+ today, to say nothing of being a 3-time magazine feature cover car created by one of the most talented builders of the era. The Butcher Truck is a true street rod classic. And if you’d like to see more of that Dan Woods street rod and automotive magic you can follow @danwoods9 on Instagram.
- 10000Hot rod builder/editor/author/archeologist Pat Ganahl called it the best rod magazine cover ever produced: the eye-grabbing January, 1971 Rod & Custom featuring Danny Eichstedt's Leg Show T-Bucket. Calling it a "mind blower" for the street, the R&C story pointed out the irony of how such a radical departure from 'traditional'…