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1929 Essex – Rat Rod – Darran Williams

All the way from Auckland, New Zealand, Darran Williams found a rare 1929 Essex to make all his own. The project started as someone else’s project, but became Darran’s, who has lovingly made a Rat Rod out of it. I shared a little history below, for those who are wondering what an Essex is.

Here is a quick little history lesson about the Essex, for those, who like me, had never heard of this make before. Credit goes to Wikipedia

Originally, the Essex was to be a product of the “Essex Motor Company,” which actually was a wholly owned entity of Hudson’s. Essex Motors went so far as to lease the Studebaker auto factory in Detroit for production of the car. By 1922 the Essex Motor Company was dissolved and the Essex officially became what it was all along, a product of Hudson.

Essex motor vehicles were either exported as complete cars or locally-built from knock-down kits in many countries making the Essex marque well-known internationally as well as domestically. Essex vehicles were locally-built in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Make sure to check out all that Darran has done and scroll to the bottom where the pictures are.


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Disclaimer: Customs N Classics does not charge for any articles. These are free and are derived from emails, chat messages and other forms of communication. The details are from the owner/trustee and are not physically verified. Should there be any issues with this story, please let us know, privately and we will do our best to correct any mistakes.

What type of vehicle is this?

Rat Rod


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Make, Model, Year of Project:

1929 Essex

What stage is this in?

Just Started Project

When did you purchase it and for how much?

Purchased 05-19. Now anyone reading this & thinking you could find again for this price think again… $2310

Why did you choose this vehicle?

My only “needs” or ”must haves” was the front window shape, pickup truck & price. I still can’t believe to this day how little I paid.

What sort of condition was it in when you started the project, what was wrong with it, etc.

Rough, bloody rough.

The roof had 1″ thick bog.

Someone had started making it a C-cab so the doors where cut down & jamming, guards, grill tray where all good condition but unattached, brand new radiator, and a unknown condition 350 engine & th350 transmission.

What, specifically have you done, or had done to it?

I have stripped bare the entire project, & sold off all I didn’t want.

I beam front, 8”diff, hand made totally cocked up chassis, so now my original purchase is = to $470.00 & I have custom built tray, tidy-ish guards, brand new radiator, tidy grill, 350 Chevy bog standard, th350, rusty body, brand new Chevy steering column.

On the body I have removed the bog & the worst of the old steel & made a new roof, far from perfect, but that’s the great thing about Rat Rods

Can you list any and all parts that you have put in?

Since the above, I purchased a 1997 Mazda Bounty rego, wof great runner & tidy truck, again great deal. This I proceeded to dismantle on the street, keeping only, chassis, LSD diff, all suspension, steering box & column, pedal box, & a few other bits that may come in handy.

The Mazda has now made a profit of $155 & still have a few hundred dollars worth of parts to sell.

As for work done on the project, I have the motor & trans mounted.

The body sitting loose in place and the rear suspension cut from the chassis to make shorter.

Steering column & pedal box mostly fitted

I have had the engine running barely, bit rough as hasn’t been running for quite a few years, before hand I had done oil change, took the dissy out & made an oil pump drive to get oil moving.

Replaced the carburetor, intake manifold, dissy, leads.

List of parts:
1929 Essex body 

1928 Dodge Victory sedan front guards 

1934 International pickup grill with Custom insert

1924 Nash Six Roadster Rear guards

1929 Studebaker Erskine doors

Mazda bounty chassis & suspension 

1937 Graham Crusader headlights 

1973 350 Chev & TH350

Custom Tray

33-34 Ford V8 radiator

15×8 -28 offset 

Model A Hinged front window frame

Where have you purchased your parts?

Parts mainly purchased online, Ebay, AliExpress, Amazon, Trademe, & local engine shop.

What about you?

Myself, well as you have probably guessed a wheeler dealer. Experience, always worked on my own cars, builder, handyman, locksmith, taught myself to weld last year.

Any stories regarding this project?

Stories are really mixed in to the above questions. As this is so early into the build, here in NZ we have a strict rule book for builds, hence my need for a pickup, was always going to put old school on to modern chassis, easy for Cirt process, will also go round corners ok & stop.

Originally it was picked out of a field back in 1978, was a fire damaged wreck. The guy who started it wanted to build something out of junk as he hated the fact Hot rodders from that time where hacking up perfect cars. From there it spent 20+ years getting built started with a Vauxhall straight 6 ended with a Chevy, but never quite made it to the road.

Life changed for him & the law changed introducing the certification process, so the project got sold less motor. 

After that it spent sometime outside, and eventually to a garage where it met its current 350 Chev & TH350 as well as some custom chassis work by someone who shouldn’t be allowed to touch a welder! 

Now 40 years since being salvaged from a field she is in my hands, I know I will get a lot of hate but have introduced a modem chassis, (yes I would like to build custom chassis. However this is getting built in a 2 car garage that needs space for my wife’s car every night.) 



Before you go, check out these articles. Restoration and I’m going to fix it someday

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My name is Dennis. First, let me just say, I am a Christian, a husband, a father to 1 beautiful step-daughter and 3 strapping young boys and a step-grandfather (She calls me “Grumpy”) to a gorgeous step-granddaughter. These will always be my priorities, no matter what my interests are. That said, I strive to keep and maintain a family friendly atmosphere, so my boys and their friends can enjoy the site as much as I do. (Granddaughter isn’t old enough and daughter has other interests.)

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