This Hot Rodder Builds a Pickup to be the Cornerstone of his Business

By Scotty Lachenauer, HOT ROD

John Lenhart is one of those lucky guys who has manned-up, taken a chance, and put his money where his craft is by turning his powered-up passion into a full-time career. John is now the owner of Anderhart Speed, a custom shop that builds top-notch muscle cars, trucks, and hot rods for the masses. Anderhart is based in the hills of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just a stone's throw from Philadelphia, and within striking distance of the Big Apple and the adjacent bustling-burbs of New Jersey.

John remembers an awesome childhood, hanging on dad's side while Pop wrenched on the family cars, trying to squeeze a few more miles out of them before they imploded. "My job was usually holding the flashlight, or grabbing a tool but I still learned," John says. As he got older, he discovered American Graffiti and of course Hot Rod magazine. "I would sneak into my parents' room when they weren't home, turn on the oldies station, and read that magazine cover to cover," John says.

As a teen John picked up a Fox-body Mustang as his first ride and started customizing it; building its performance while doing double-duty as his daily driver (he's still got it). When it came time to decide on furthering his education John knew exactly what he wanted to do. "I went to the University of Northwestern Ohio for their high-performance program, and got a job right out of college working for Posies Rods and Customs in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania," John says. There he furthered his studies, learning how to build horsepower and fabricate hot rods at their extensive shop. "I'm still good friends with the people there and will always look back at that time with high regard," John says.

Over time, though, John got the itch to move out on his own. "I was just recently married to my wife, Natasha, and we bought a house with a 900-foot detached garage. It's there that I started my business," John says. Soon John realized that to promote Anderhart Speed, he needed his own signature build to help advertise to potential buyers. It's then that he found the project he was looking for.

Potluck Truck

With the help of friends John located a derelict 1947 Ford pickup in a condemned barn not too far away in Abington, Pennsylvania. It was in pieces with the frame in the dirt and the cab sitting next to it. A 327 long block was there as well, with newspaper dated from the '90s stuffed in the intake and cylinders. Some would have walked away from such a big project. Not John. He jumped into the fire, started cooking up a hot rod recipe, and never looked back.

John immediately knew what he wanted to do with the truck. "My plan was to build a clean and unique hot rod pickup, combining the feel, sounds, and smells of a traditional hot rod, but something that was comfortable to drive long distances and didn't need to be constantly maintained," John states. So he roughly assembled the parts he purchased, took inventory of the goodies, and decided on what he needed to commence the build. It was then that he started cutting.

His first moves were on the front of the pickup. "I was never fond of the front ends of these trucks, so I decided to do something different. I sectioned the front fenders and nose panel to blend together as one smooth clip," John says. That was just the start. He moved on and finished up his front end modifications. The fender mounts on the cab were sectioned 3/8 inch to match. A mounting system for the clip was designed and fabricated to drop the nose 3/4 inch to make the lines look better. The headlights were frenched-in, front bumper shaved, and a re-pop chrome grille was used," John says. He's quick to point out that everyone thinks the grille is different, but the grille is the only thing on the front end that hasn't been modified. The hood vents were cut out and custom trim fabricated from aluminum.

The engine bay is all custom work, with adjustable fender supports and air ducts that tie into the grille. Top inner fenders are actually boxes made from stock steel and stainless, which hold the truck's wiring and are ducted to the grille as well for more fresh air. More metal trickery can be found in the interior where the dashboard has been modified to contain the Vintage Air HVAC system. "I tried to imagine a late-'40s truck that had a taste of art-deco luxury (they weren't built like that) and design it that way. The switch panel is custom-made in-house and uses reproduction Bell X-series switch guards from Perihelion Designs.

Since there were no doors with the pickup when he bought it, he had to do a countywide search for them. With the help of Posies he located a mint set out in Nebraska. "The guy brought them to Carlisle and waited for me to get there to pick them up," John says. The bed was pretty much trashed beyond help, so John ordered a new one from Midwest Early Ford and worked it in to fit perfectly. As for the fenders, John says "lots of hammer and dollywork was needed" to get them to look the way they do today. He also added a custom touch; working them profusely to blend into an aluminum roll pan situated out back.

Once the body was squared away, John moved to the motorvation of this here ride. "The 327 was gone over and the long block was kept as old-school as possible using an Isky flat-tappet cam, 461 Fuelie heads, forged Ross pistons, Clevite bearings, and a vintage Edelbrock C26 dual-quad manifold up top. Moon-polished finned valve covers were added for that period-perfect look. Edelbrock carbs were installed for modern driveability.

While this was going on, John played around with the chassis. After ditching the idea of slamming the truck and "laying frame" (didn't want a hump in the bed) he went with his next idea. "First I squared and repaired the frame. Next, I boxed the front section and fabricated a Mustang IIstyle front crossmember. After I installed it I added a set of RideTech Strong Arms control arms up front. Lastly, I fabricated a four-bar rear suspension in the shop and installed that as well. An AccuAir control system controls the RideTech ShockWave airbags on all four corners," John says. Everything here is hidden and out of sight, which makes people wonder just how this truck gets so low? For stopping power, Wilwood brakes were added at all four corners.

When it came to paint time, John knew exactly what he wanted. "I painted the pickup a custom-mixed PPG Orange Pearl paint laid over a white base. I then did white/cream on the frame and suspension, which complements the orange perfectly," John says. The exterior pearl paint on the flanks responds differently in and out of the sun; going from mild to wild with light intensity.

Once the paint was finished, John laid a beautiful ebony-stained oak bed with polished stainless ribs in the truck. In the cockpit, he installed a Classic Instruments 6-in-1 gauge set in the dash. A nasty Bluetooth-driven sound system featuring Rockford, Fostgate, and Polk audio speakers and built with a Clarion EQ and JB subwoofer get the tunes out that John wants to hear. The custom upholstery was done in Relicate chocolate leather and the floor is covered in square-weave carpeting from Relicate as well.

Painless supplied the wiring on this stunning bedded hot rod. Classic smoothie reverse chrome wheels give this ride that old-school look and feel that will never go out of style. They are shod in Diamond Back Classic radial tires all around. The lighting is incandescent in the interior and gauges. Headlights and front turn signals are modern LED, and the taillights are frenched-in 1937 Zephyrs, also built with LEDs.

Speed is My NameOnce completed, John was floored with the results. But, unfortunately, at that point he had to make some tough decisions. "I originally started this project with the goal of building this 1947 into a showstopper that would help promote the shop and then I would sell it. But then everything changed after I took her out and drove her. She works so well and drives so beautifully that I now have a sentimental attachment to her," John says.

The ride has also become a mascot for Anderhart Speed, so John's made additional plans for her. "After we moved to our new 4,000-square-foot location I started working on a vintage front engine dragster and matching trailer. The truck we named "Orange Krush," so we are building a front-engine dragster based on a late '50s Chassis Research design. The paint scheme will match the truck, with Orange Pearl bodywork and White Cream chassis and suspension," John says. This truck will not only move into the future as a reborn ride, but it will also be put to good use at Anderhart Speed as a styled tow vehicle! Stay in the loop at @andehartspeed. CT

John Lenhart

1947 Ford


Frame: 1947 Ford

Rearend / Ratio: Ford 9-inch / 3.80:1

Rear Suspension: Anderhart Speed four-bar with Panhard bar, RideTech ShockWaves

Rear Brakes: Wilwood disc

Front Suspension: Anderhart Speed Mustang II cradle, RideTech Strong Arms, RideTech ShockWaves

Front Brakes: Wilwood disc

Wheels: Truespoke Smoothie Chrome reverse with Shannon center cap

Front Tires: Diamond Back 215/65R15

Rear Tires: Diamond Back 235/75R15


Engine: 327ci Chevy

Heads: Chevy Fuelie

Valve Covers: Mooneyes

Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock C26 dual-quad / Edelbrock 500-cfm

Ignition: MSD

Headers: Sanderson block hugger

Exhaust / Mufflers: Anderhart Speed stainless steel / Flowmaster Hushpower

Transmission: TH350

Shifter: Lokar


Style: Stock

Modifications: Nosed, shaved

Bodywork and Paint by: Anderhart Speed


Dashboard: Anderhart Speed custom-fabricated

Gauges: Classic Instruments

Air Conditioning: Vintage Air

Stereo: OOSA Bluetooth master unit, Rockford fosgate amplifiers, JBL 8-inch subwoofer, Clarion 7 band EQ, Rockford Fosgate rear speakers (mounted in seat pan), Polk Audio slim line front speakers (mounted in kick panels)

Steering Wheel: LeCarra 1940 Ford

Steering Column: ididit

Seats: Custom by Anderhart Speed

Material: Relicate leather

Carpet: Relicate German square-weave



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