Classic Trucks Magazine, December 2004
Simply Sweet: Less can be more.
By Mike Hale & Kevin Lee
Photography by Kevin Lee.
I have been fascinated with cars since I was a little kid. I subscribed to Hot Rod Magazine when I was about 12 in the early '60s. As I grew up, I went through the beater starter cars, and then into British sports cars (they were pretty cheap at the time), motorcycles, and off-road three-wheelers and four-wheelers. But I still always liked hot rods. One day about 10 years ago, while walking around a local rod run, I realized that I was between hobbies and it was probably time to build a hot rod.
I always liked trucks, so a hotrod truck sounded good to me, The '55-57 Chevys were always a favorite of mine, so that's what I started to look for. I looked around for a year before I finally purchased this one because it was still pretty stock and in decent shape. I fixed a few problems, drove it for about 6 months until the end of the year when I used some vacation time, and tore it apart.
The original plan called for the finished truck to be something my wife Barb could use to run to the nursery to pick up some plants. With this in mind, I wanted the chassis to be a safe, reliable, and ride nice. I wanted to go with one of the new-at-the-time Heidt's IFS kits. I preferred that to grafting on a clip. I had seen too many clips that didn't work very well. I had gone by Hot Rods & Custom Stuff a few times and liked them right away. They had several truck projects underway and were a dealer for Heidt's. So Randy Clark jumped at the opportunity to install one of their front suspensions along with Heidt's new-at-the-time four-bar kit for the rear.
The build took a lot longer than I expected. It was in and out of the shop several times as they did some of the work while I did what I could on my own. I wanted to be able to say that I did at least part of the work. Needless to say, the shop worked a lot faster than I did.
It wasn't until January 2000 that the truck was back together to the point of being street legal. The interior was not done and the stereo and A/C were not installed, but I could drive it. My wife and I attended the 2000 Goodguys Pomona event as our first official show. A year later the stereo and A/C were working, and the interior had been completed. At that point, I considered the truck done, although there have been minor changes since then.
I didn't get radical with the overall design. Basically the body has been cleaned up, and it's lowered. That's all these trucks need to say "hot rod." Although the looks are fairly traditional, the mechanicals are not. I didn't want to get too extreme with the paint either. I selected turquoise because it's different and eye-catchting, but I'm not afraid to drive it on the street or leave it in a parking lot.
I did want to add pinstriping. The first stripes were laid down by Mike Schartel at the Goodguys Del Mar event. He suggested the small flames where the stripes start on the front fenders. I really like those. Pinstripes are like tattoos, once you have some, you have to keep adding more. So, additional stripes were added by Mike at the 2003 Paso Robles event. I think they are done now.
Originally, I had Wheel Vintiques steel rally wheels painted gray to match the interior and accented with beauty rings and baby moons. It's a classic look and they fit over the brake rotors, but I really wanted American five-spokes. The problem was I wanted to stay with 15-inch wheels, and the large brake rotors were going to be a tight fit. I sent some very detailed sketches to Hoppy at American Racing, and he set me up with a set of Torque Thrust IIs that fit the brakes and fenders. They're tight, but they fit. I couldn't have done it without his help. I've always liked to cast centers and five-spokes, so that's what I have. The gray once again ties in with the interior color.
I'm happy with the way it turned out. I intended it to be a driver. Although it only made one trip to the nursery, we've taken it to Paso Robles and Goodguys Scottsdale. Those trips added a 1,000 miles to the odometer in just a few days, but we didn't have a single problem. It still turns heads and gets a lot of attention at shows. I think because it's pretty basic, it has a lot of appeal. Every show I talk to people who have something similar and want to build it up the same way. It seems like a very attainable goal for a lot of people. CT.
FACTS & FIGURES
MIKE AND BARB HALE
San Diego, California
Frame .. stock
Modifications ....boxed, holes filled, new crossmembers
Modifications done by ..Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, Escondido, CA
Rearend 1 Ratio ....Currie 9" Ford 1 3.50:1
Rear suspension ....Heidt's four-bar, American Eagle adjustable coilovers
Rear brakes ..Wilwood 11" discs
Front suspension ...Heidt's IFS with dropped spindles,American Eagle adjustable coilovers
Front brakes .Wilwood 11" discs
Steering box ..Tech Rack 4-rum rack-and-pinion Front wheel make, size. American Racing Torque Thrusts,
Rear wheel make, size
...American Racing Torque Thrusts,
Front tire make, size ...BFG Radial T/A, 215/60R15 Rear tire make, size.. . . BFG Radial T/A, 275/60R15
Gastank .Rock Valley under bed
Make/Displacement ..GM ZZ3 1 350ci
Heads ...GM aluminum
Valve covers .Moon finned
Manifold/Induction. ...GM aluminum 1 Edelbrock 600-cfm
Ignition 1 Wires ..GM HEI
Headers .Sanderson 1 5/8"
Exhaust/Mufflers .....custom dual 1 Flowmaster
Accessory brackets . ...Bill's Hot Rod Co.
Make and model ..B&M Turbo 350
Modifications ...B&M 2,400 Holeshot converter
Modifications .emblems shaved
Fenders front/rear ......stock/stock
Hood .....stock with No limit forward tilt kit
Bed ....Mar-K with oak floor, shaved stake pockets, bedrail ends filled, WOW Products latches, Gaylord tonneau.
Bodywork and paint by ...HR&CS, Escondido, CA
Paint type/Color ..PPG 1 Airport Turquoise (ClV-44937)
Outside mirrors Mustang GT power
Gauges .. .stock rebuilt by United Speedometer
Air conditioning ...Vintage Air
Stereo .Custom Autosound and Kenwood
Steering wheel .....leCarra Mark 9 slotted
Steering column ..GM step van tilt (without key)
Seats ..Glide Engineering bench
Upholstery by .Gabe lopez, Bloomington, CA
Material/Color .leather and tweed 1 gray
Carpet custom gray wool