The dream for Steve Brandt began at 16.
That’s when the owner of Vernon-based Brandt Motorsports bought the 1952 Ford pro street pickup truck from his sister in Saskatchewan, with the vision of restoring the vehicle to its former glory, doing everything completely from scratch.
Nearly 30 years later, Brandt is getting closer.
He worked around-the-clock with help from good friend Jason De Leeuw to get the truck in presentation shape for the second annual Vancouver Men’s Show in Abbotsford in June.
“I didn’t do too much right away because I didn’t have the money,” said Brandt, who turned 45 during the Men’s Show.
“I started doing body work on the thing 22 years ago, but then business and life gets in the way. It’s been 22 years since I got serious about it.”
Single and never married, and with no kids, Brandt enlisted the help of De Leeuw a couple of years ago to help restore the truck.
Not that Brandt hadn’t tried before.
“The truck has been driven for, maybe, a month since I picked it up,” he said. “Since then it’s had four different frames, five different motor combinations. I had it completely painted with a flame job, I didn’t like it and I threw it all away. I hated the cab so I found another one and just started hacking.”
He does all of this without any designs on paper, only what he sees in his head, and he has to use two subjects he hated in school.
“I’m brutal for dimensions,” confessed Brandt. “Math, I never did well in school, now I use math everyday. Same with physics. A lot of stuff I do involves physics.”
He took the current cab and cut it in four which is when Brandt said he “lost my mind.” He took nearly six inches off the truck, took the rear window down, put in suicide doors and so on.
“There’s not one piece on here that hasn’t been shortened or something,” said Brandt, who operates by the motto, ‘Why be normal because normal sucks?’
The truck was on display for three days at the Men’s Show, and Brandt and De Leeuw had lots of people look at it – some people, despite signs saying otherwise, decided to get in the cab, much to Brandt’s chagrin. He had offers on the truck, but he said there’s too much sentimental value attached.
Besides, he plans on driving it around town.
“The truck will have 1,200 horsepower and will be street-driven,” said Brandt, who has taken the truck apart – again – to begin wiring it. “It has everything it needs to be legal, proper brakes, tires, seatbelts, working signals.”
And, like everything he does, it will be custom made.
Brandt built his first go-kart at 13 – from the ground up, of course – and, from there, “gone stupid.”
He builds hot rods, mud cars, race cars, off-road trucks and motorcycles. But his biggest sellers are snowmobiles.
“They’re a big part of my life,” said Brandt, whose website is www.ratsled.com. “I sell stuff to Norway, Sweden, lots of stuff to Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Manitoba, Alaska, and other places in the U.S. like Maine, all the way to Washington and Oregon.”
Growing up on a Saskatchewan farm, Brandt’s mom said she knew when her son – one of seven Brandt children – was three or four that he was either going to be a farmer or a mechanic because he was continuously dirty.
The kicker is, nobody in the family – not his mom, his dad, a retired preacher, nor his six brothers and sisters – is mechanically inclined.
“My parents had nothing to do with cars at all so where I get it from, I can’t tell you,” said Brandt, who said he works a minimum 14 hours a day on his projects.
Brandt is planning on changing the name of his company to Quick Ride Engineering, and his 1952 Ford pro street will be on display at the Sturgis North festival from today until Sunday at the MotoPlex Speedway in Spallumcheen.