“Black Dragon” 1944 V Model Mack Firetruck
Owner: Roger Brown: Builder: Tom Stark, Precision Designs Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Builder: Tom Stark grew up going to car shows, drag racing in the Denver area and working on his dad’s and friends’ autos in his free time. He became an aerospace machinist out of high school and after about 5 years decided to work on Hot Rods everyday for a living. Tom worked for Zoomers Automotive for seven years. Leaving there he went to work at Pinkees were he honed in his skills for another two and a half years. Deciding to try it out on his own, Precision Designs opened in 2009. Currently in a 2500 sq ft shop located in Henderson, Colorado, Precision Designs focuses on specialty vehicles that operate to a very high level. Tom’s first solo project was a 1968 Camaro. With it showing very well just in bare metal, Precision Designs moved on to other projects, including the 1944 Mack Firetruck for Roger Brown.
Tom and Roger met while working races as part of NHRA’s Safety Safari. Roger and his wife Rhonda live in Lawrence, Kansas where Roger is a Pierce Firetruck Salesman for Conrad Fire Equipment(www.conradfire.com). Roger’s initial interest in the firetruck was for use in parades to help promote his business.
How does one end up doing a Hot Rod Firetruck as a project you ask? The phone call went like this. “Hi Tom, What do you think about building a Hot Rod Firetruck? I asked…uhh how big is it? Will it fit in the shop? “ After sending over pictures, discussing what Roger wanted out of it ,coming up with a rendering, 14 months of hard work and sometimes frustrating engineering for such a big, heavy vehicle, the completion looks like this.
The Firetruck started as a basic lower with big wheels and cool drive train. Then the task came, how to execute? Tom designed the front and rear suspension to accommodate the weight of the vehicle using 2” diameter 4 bars and air bags (ACCUAIR) on all 4 corners. The front 4 bar mounts and air bag mounts are engineered into the same component mounting to the stock axle. Steering, spindles, and front floaters are GM 1 ton. Brakes are from SRT 10 ram truck. The rear suspension is a triangulated 4 bar 2” in diameter sprung with tapered sleeve air bags. The axle is 2008 Dodge SRW, narrowed 14” with SRT 10 ram rear brakes. Engine and trans are from 2005 SRT 10 ram crew cab.
The body has been stretched 5.5” to make it a little easier to get in and out of. We took the 5.5 from the front of the bed. The rear fenders have been “tubbed” to fit the huge duals under the rear. The entire front sheet metal has been realigned and fit to the truck straight and square. The windshield has been chopped 4” to keep in proportion with the vehicle. A lot of the panels were replaced and running boards were made from scratch. The Ergonomics of the truck are modified to sit the driver down in the vehicle versus sitting on top like a buss. Steering column, pedal location and seat location have all been fit the driver. All this was done while trying to keep the commercial feel inside and out. With everything complete in bare metal the 1944 Mack was sent off to Nice Rides Restorations for the “Dripping black” single stage. The chrome work was all executed by Jon Writes Custom Chrome while interior was done by Pjs upholstery. The final touch of Gold Leaf and lettering were completed by Speedway Graphics.
Along with working within Pierce Fire Truck as a successful sales person for over 24 years Roger maintains his time with his wife and family, married to Rhonda for 24 years, Two sons - Arron 29, Adam 27 “We wanted to do a family project, I always wanted a Hot Rod after the ones I had growing up but now the fire truck seemed to be a better fit since I have been in the business of selling them for so long. I grew up in SW Iowa, Graduated from Clarinda, IA. HS and then attended some college and tech classes and soon moved to Missouri. I moved for business reasons to Kansas 30 years ago and have been located in Lawrence, KS. ever since.”