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Pit Crew

"Dumpy" the Hot Wheels Truck that never made it

As the story has been told to me:


Many years ago Neil Henderson and his friend (since grade school), Jim Sadler wanted to build a 1940 Ford Pickup with a 1940 Deluxe front end. Quite a serious project if you know anything about 1940 Fords. They just don't bolt on!


Neil purchased two trucks (in pieces) from Tim Austin for the build. 


Years a club meeting of the Early Times Car Club in Long Beach, CA Neil and Jim were discussing the project. Jim said "we are getting up in years and if we're going to do this we better get going on it". 


As the conversation continued, Jim said I've got an idea. I've been driving dump trucks all my life, how about we build a mini 1940 Ford Deluxe Dump Truck?"


Neil liked the idea and as it happened a third person was listening to the conversation. This person stepped away for a few minutes and returned with a pencil sketch of the truck. He said "you mean something like this?"


Neil and Jim said that was just what they had in mind and soon started the build.


Interestingly enough, the third person (also a club member) was Larry Wood. This was a couple of years prior to Larry going to work for Mattel designing Hot Wheels vehicles.


Sadly Neil passed away before totally finishing the project. Ellen his daughter enlisted the help of fellow club member Richard Graves (Graves Automotive Long Beach, CA) to finish the build. Richard removed the 428 side oiler (Ellen said it was way too fast) with a 352 FE, finished the dump bed and paint.


After years, Ellen wanted something more practical (she bought a Camaro convertible) to haul her kids in and I was fortunate enough to purchase it from her (that's a whole other story in itself).


The truck "Dumpy" as we call him had never been shown much, or at all. After getting things roadworthy we started taking him to some local shows.


I have been amazed at the response from adults and kids alike.


Interestingly also is the people we've met that had stories about the history of the truck. We've met a man that hung around and helped Neil with the build when he was just a kid. Tim, who sold the two parts trucks came up and introduced himself at a show. Jim  walked up at a show and told me more of the story. The side fuel tanks are actually pressure tanks that jim's son "acquired" from a brewery he worked for.


In one of the pictures you can see the framed sketch that Larry did and signed. The other framed picture is from a club T-shirt with pictures of three of Neil's vehicles including Dumpy.


Currently Dumpy has a 352 FE engine, a Doug Nash 5 speed (not an overdrive) and a Ford 9 inch rear end with dual rear wheels. The stacks actually have Peterbuilt guards.


The eyeballs we put on at shows and the kids love it. Maybe they think Dumpy is a cousin to TowMater from the Cars movie.


At any rate we have so much fun with "Dumpy The Hot Wheels that never made it".


I apologize if I have incorrect spelling or information about people named in this article. If there are corrections to make or if you have any more of the story, please contact me.





New Driver

Nice ride and nice story. Sorry to hear about Neil.
Community Manager

That is an amazing build!  I am sure Neil would be thrilled with the final result.  


Dumpy is a real beauty, thanks for sharing the story & pics.