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Inspired by a Patriot

By on November 1, 2017

Street rods in general and rat rods in particular have a huge enthusiast following, but how many big rig rat rods have you ever seen? The “Patriot” built and owned by Brad Hartwick of Tumbling Shoals, AR was a fan favorite and the runner-up trophy winner in the Pride & Polish Builders Class at the 2017 Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

Brad heads up Highway 5 Welding & Truck Service in Rosebud, AR, one of three family businesses, and still drives on occasion. McSheer Truck’in operates a regional flatbed and heavy-haul division, and Dry Mountain Xpress runs OTR dry vans across the U.S. Started by Mack (deceased) and Jan Shearer in 1986, the businesses have grown to more than 50 trucks. Their motto, “Chasing the American Dream,” is proudly displayed on every truck.

Making of a Patriot

Brad initially set out to build a matte-black, sinister-looking truck, but that quickly changed when he involved Navy veteran Randy Jones in the project. Randy suggested the patriotic theme, which seemed to be so much more appropriate as a tribute to the men and women who have or are currently serving in our nation’s military. Besides the red, white and blue colors, the theme is supported by graphics from the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

The truck is built from two castoffs—an old Kenworth and a wrecked Peterbilt—that languished in Brad’s backyard. Though extensively modified, you may recognize the cab and mainframe from a ’78 W900A. The suspension and axles were sourced from the Pete. Power is provided by a vintage Big Cam Cummins 350 running through a 15-speed double overdrive tranny and 3:70 gears. Alcoa wheels and Bridgestone tires provide the perfect finishing touches.

Fab Fabrication

The Patriot was built between June and November of last year in Brad’s Highway 5 shop. The cab is lowered 12 inches and set back 17 inches, and the engine is raised 11 inches. The stretched front end and inverted suspension components provide the visually appealing stance. The polished diamond plate firewall and visor add a bit of shine, while the unique matte-black stacks simply blend in. The minimalist seating, interior, dash and gauges provide the essentials.

The trip to GATS was the first foray outside Arkansas. The Patriot is intended to promote the family businesses and has drawn spectator oohs and aahs at several shows and parades. When a company driver passed away late last year, family members fittingly requested use of the Patriot for the special 35-mile journey to his final resting place. o

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