Pushing the Hot Rod Envelope

Hot Rod Semi – More than a Rat Rod

Imagine yourself at a traditional hot rod show like Billetproof, enjoying Antioch California’s cool morning breeze when you smell diesel fumes. Billetproof isn’t the kind of show where you can trailer your baby in, so something’s not right. Then you hear the whine of a giant turbo just as this beast rounds the corner:


Behold the 1950 Peterbilt owned by Michael Leeds. The name for this Hot Rod Semi is up in the air, but “Sneaky Pete” is the front runner. Michael comfortably cruised about 100 miles from Santa Cruz, CA thanks to the inline 6 Cummins turbo-diesel hooked to a 12 speed automatic transmission spinning highway friendly 2.92 gears. Michael guesses 12 to 20 mpg but driving range is no problem since he’s hauling 105 gallons in the polished aluminum fuel tank out back. This baby’s read to travel, even weighing in at about 7000 lbs.

Hot rod semi Sneaky Pete

Michael’s no stranger to giant scale projects. Ever heard of Blastolene? Michael designed Blastolene which was later purchased by legendary car collector Jay Leno. Blastolene’s got an M47 Patton Tank engine that’s 1800 cu.in. of aluminum, air cooled, overhead cammed badness making 1200 horsepower with 1500 ft.lbs of torque.

For Sneaky Pete, Michael’s concept was handed to Randy Grubb (remember the semi-truck chopper from Monster Garage?) who took over the build chores and had it on the road in 1 ½ years. The Peterbilt’s aluminum cab was chopped a shocking 11 inches to give it that nasty Bonneville Salt Flat competition coupe look. Up front, a custom made Posie’s Super SlideTM spring mounts a smoothed front axle from an International garbage truck! All that’s held in place using hairpins that were formed from 1/4” DOM tubing. Yea, QUARTER INCH!


What’s next? Michael told me he’s filming a pilot TV show called “Green Machines”. He’s trying to bring radical rides like Blastolene and Sneaky Pete into the mainstream. I hope he makes it because from the moment Michael pulled in, he was surrounded by awestruck spectators trying to figure out, “What the hell is that?” Thanks for pushing the Hot Rod envelope and answering, even if just for today, the age old question of, “What will they think of next?”

Here’s the link to all the pictures I took of this truck.