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Max Grundy’s 1948 Ford COE

Max Grundy’s 1948 Ford COE

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Story and Photos by Matthew Leland

Check out more from Matthew on his Instagram Account: @matthewlelandphotography

 If you’re a fan of Max Grundy’s work at all, then you know one of his special loves is for COE trucks. It it really does take a talented artist to reform an automotive design that was almost strictly utilitarian; and then turn it unto a rolling work of art. And Max has has done this several times. With each iteration of refining, his building skills creates an even cooler project. Enter the Dr. Pepper COE.

His connection to getting this beast of a project was actually through a fan of his artwork that he’d met at several shows while touring. The fellow was in California, and was a collector of COE’s himself; something he loved about Max’s work. He was wanting to clear out a few projects he just knew he’d never get to. After showing Max his phone and thumbing through a few images, the soda inspired work truck grabbed Max’s attention right away. He had to have it.


Living most of it’s life in Utah, the 1948 Ford COE was a working soda truck for a number of years. Those earlier years tended to have open doors for access to the racks, but somewhere over it’s lifetime, doors were fabricated over them and enclosed the entire box. The very prominent Bi-Centennial artwork adorned them, and was one of first things that told Max he needed this thing.

It wasn’t long before the behemoth of a truck was towed down to Max’s home in Riverside, California. Photos where taken of it, and the first thing he did was getting creative on the computer with it. “A lot of people have trouble with a something that big, because it’s so much car to work with,” He said. “I found it a lot easier to lay it all out on the computer and get an overall look of the machine.”

And he already knew what direction for this build was going. For some reason Art Deco is the style that grabbed him the most. It was the long lines, repeating curves, and the idea of adding the addition on the roof with the portholes that finished the look he was going for.

First thing was first; getting this truck on a modern platform. While the original inline six was still working and it was a running and driving car, the drivetrain was worn and the top speed of barely 50 miles and hour put some limit on it’s usability. He purchased a 1993 Dodge ram and used the chassis for the frame swap. It wasn’t an easy feat; a custom hoist had to be made to lift the nearly 3000 pound box.

The motor was just pure luck: who would have guessed that a Dodge Cummins motor would be nearly the same dimensions as a vintage Ford inline six? Minus the added turbo to the diesel motor, it fit with not much modification to the bottom of the cab. The frame was fully airbagged with Airride Suspensions, allowing the massive truck to nearly rest on the ground.

The cab needed a haircut, so 3 and a half inches was removed from the roof and laid back down. The handles were shaved, along with a few marker lights and other “junk” that had been added over the years. Custom Max Grundy badges adorn the side of the hood along with the speaker cover that features his very recognizable artwork.

If you’re a fan of Max’s work, you know that one might be able to bet he’ll have another COE project in years coming. But, this one definitely stands out for not only it’s unique design and build, but also the combination of his work and blending it with the vintage painting along the side. Just makes you want a pop open a cold Dr, Pepper just looking at it, doesn’t it?

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