Menu

Raw 1939 Plymouth Pickup Draws Power From Radial Airplane Engine

It might appear like a rat rod at first glance thanks to its unpainted, raw-steel riveted finish, but it’s much more than that. This 1939 Plymouth Pickup owned by the Corns family is powered by nothing other than propeller airplane engine. Corns family runs a 38-acre salvage yard in Englewood, Colorado, so they know their way around cars. What’s more, they know their way around airplanes, so it’s not that hard to figure out why they decided to build such a radical truck. Gary and Alice, and their sons Eric and Adam have all had their share in creating this raw masterpiece.

010-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

062-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

This Plymouth pickup could have had a different fate had it not been for one moment of inspiration on Gary’s part. He bought the truck some 30 years ago for measly couple hundred bucks, but never knew what to do with it. Then, a while back, he showed up with fifties seaplane on a trailer. That’s when Corns realized two old timers might breathe life into something unique.

000-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

008-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

Fitting 757 ci 300-horsepower Jacobs radial engine inside Plymouth pickup’s engine bay was no easy street, though. Airplane engine was already way too robust, plus it was designed to run a propeller. Corns first scrapped pickup’s rusty framework and replaced it with an extended custom tube chassis. New chassis itself was cut and welded for hours and hours before it was finally able to fit the huge mill. Another problem was the transmission. Turbo 400 automatic and narrowed Franklin quick-change rearend sound good enough, but mating them to propeller engine is no mean feat. It’s a feat that took some engineering, guile, and spare parts which Corns have in abundance at their scrapyard. In short, the propeller shaft is mated to custom cogged pulley which, itself is connected to a custom driveshaft. This driveshaft heads toward the tranny where it meets a 1970 Chevelle pinion and various old Ford bearings which spin the 12-inch torque convertor.

001-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

Bare faced raw steel exterior dotted with more than 1,000 rivets is complemented by aircraft lights and pilot tubes. Similar raw steel, aircraft pattern carries over inside as well. Leather seats, and various gauges upon minimalistic bare dashboard are also taken off the aircraft. Not to mention dual airplane yokes this Plymouth Pickup uses for steering wheel(s).

006-1939-plymouth-radial-airplane-truck-gary-corns

Corns designed Plymouth Air with purpose to race at Bonneville, but never went there. This doesn’t mean that their peculiar truck went unnoticed. It managed to pick a few rewards, and even got noticed by people from aircraft industry like former CEO of Cessna and VP at Lockheed Martin. This can only mean that they’ve done a terrific job. Video below shows how it looks like when 300-horsepower radial aircraft engine gets started.

Categories: Gear Grinding

Nikola Potrebić

About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Very few things move him as muscle cars do - especially those from the golden era. Which makes him wonder: why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and the likes this way - right?