1978 W900A transformed into patriotic hot rod

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Updated Jul 5, 2024

Happy Fourth of July! To mark the day we're dropping back into the archive for this relatively recent-history look at a custom-built hot rod that scored some hardware at the old Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas, back in 2017. Wherever you are today, take the time to run back through the build, partly inspired by a Navy vet friend of owner Brad Hartwick's, in the video up top. Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole's original story about the truck, with plenty views of the various custom-engineered pieces of this classic-turned-road-race-capable unit, follows below. 

Rose Bud, Ark.-based Brad Hartwick pulled an old Kenworth out of the weeds and turned it into a rolling salute to the United States before bringing it to the Great American Trucking Show in August, where he showed it in the GATS Pride & Polish.

As Hartwick, who works as the shop foreman at his family’s McSheer Trucking, describes in the video above, the hot rod originated as a 1978 Kenworth W900A. Hartwick started the project just wanting to build something he’d never seen before. Yet as it went along Navy veteran Randy Jones, a close friend, gave him the idea to give the truck a patriotic theme.

The cab's ride height has been lowered about a foot, and the motor was raised about 11 inches. The front end was stretched while moving the cab back about a foot-and-a-half so the engine sits alone up front. The truck runs with a 350-horsepower Cummins Big Cam and 15-speed double over transmission.

Nearly everything here was custom-built in Hartwick’s shop, including the bed, stacks, visor and more.

The finished product, named “Patriot,” is about as patriotic as a truck can get, featuring American flag graphics on the front end of the rig, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and more.

It earned a runner-up finish for Best of Show in the Builders Class category at the 2017 GATS Pride & Polish.

Brad Hartwick's 'Patriot' hot rod originated as a 1978 Kenworth W900A.Brad Hartwick's "Patriot" hot rod originated as a 1978 Kenworth W900A.

Graphics on the truck include the American flag, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and more.Graphics on the truck include the American flag, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and more.

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The truck's bed, stacks and more were custom-made in Hartwick's Rose Bud, Ark., shop.The truck's bed, stacks and more were custom-made in Hartwick's Rose Bud, Ark., shop.

The truck's dash features American flag graphics.The truck's dash features American flag graphics.

One side of the back of the visor depicts the iconic image of the U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima in World...One side of the back of the visor depicts the iconic image of the U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima in World...

The other side of the visor shows a photo of a U.S. Navy ship.The other side of the visor shows a photo of a U.S. Navy ship.

The shifter knob is made to look like a bullet.The shifter knob is made to look like a bullet.

The truck also features graphics supporting the Second Amendment.The truck also features graphics supporting the Second Amendment.

The truck is powered by a 350-horsepower Cummins Big Cam.The truck is powered by a 350-horsepower Cummins Big Cam.

Hartwick documented the build process, which can be seen in these photos.Hartwick documented the build process, which can be seen in these photos.