A 1939 Plymouth pickup truck gets a Jacobs R-755 radial engine

Article by Christian A., on November 28, 2016

Who would’ve thought that customizing a car could be a fun activity to gather friends and family? The Corns family owns a 40-acre salvage yard in Colorado and is home to hundreds of vehicles and tens of thousands of parts which they use for their projects. Recently, the family has been inviting friends to come over to work on one of their project vehicles, a 1939 Plymouth pickup truck. And they only have three rules to be a part of this weekly get together: first, you must love cars; second, beer is necessary for your entry; and last but not the least, a sense of humour is essential for a cheery working environment.

What makes this project extra special is that the truck is powered by a 12.4-liter Jacobs R-755 radial engine, the kind of thing that makes it fit to be called a “truck for the gods”. Even Mars (the Roman God of War) himself would probably want that on his modern chariot.

Years ago, Gary Corns bought the beat-up old 1939 Plymouth from one of his regular customers but it wasn’t until 30 years after that the project for the radial-engined truck began. For 30 years, the Corns family worked on other projects, leaving the old beat-up Plymouth in a corner waiting for its turn on the workshop table. Until one day, while Corns senior was making a trip to a nearby wrecking yard, he found a 1954 Cessna 195 airplane with its Jacobs R-755 radial engine still intact.

Before they got too excited to start with another project, they had to check whether the old radial was still functional. And it turned out to be in running condition! The engine fired up with only minimal fuss in the form of a cloud of smoke but overall, the thing was running and roaring, sending chills down Cthulhu’s spine.

Thus, this began the search for the missing pieces that will enable the good ol’ Plymouth to run with the Jacobs R-755 radial-engine. A suitable single-barrel updraft carburetor was needed which the Corns team was able to find on eBay, its parts fabricated to fit to the specifications and needs of the Jacobs R-755. For what must be the first time in decades, the ignition system could be tuned and its valve clearances adjusted to its specification.

Since the Plymouth truck’s original chassis was beaten up beyond saving, a new tube chassis was fabricated to allow the extension of the truck’s front portion. This allowed more room to fit its new power plant. An extensive modification on the truck’s body was also needed to fit its new chassis, while rivets were extensively used as a courtesy to its seven-cylinder radial’s aeronautic past.

The attention to detail of this stunning project is very remarkable. What was once left to wither and rot, was turned into a piece that could blend in well enough in Mad Max Immortan Joe’s hoard of armoured trucks or better yet, fit for Mars’ modern war chariot. Its 300 horsepower on full throttle is not that bad for a Jacobs R-755 powered vehicle either. We’re all praises to the Corns family for this awe-mazing creation.

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