1954 Chevy Five-Window Pickup - Ultimate Job
Having Fun, Day And Night!
Steve Lamb is an active hobbyist, who owns two Chevrolet dealerships and three Dodge dealerships in Crystal River and Inverness, Florida. In addition to selling cars and trucks during the day, he enjoys spending his spare time with his extensive automobile collection, housed in a large display building next to one of his dealerships. One of the trucks he wanted to add was a '54 Chevy half-ton, five-window, found in a field almost seven years ago. It was in very bad condition, but Steve hoped that one day he could get the vintage ride back on the road. Tom Anderson teamed up with Steve several years ago, relocating from Kansas City, where he had his own custom motorcycle shop. Tom is also an active enthusiast, holding the distinction of having raced in the Daytona 500 twice and a current member of the Hamsters, the motorcycle club of Arlen Ness. It was obvious that Tom was the right man to bring the rusted Chevy back to life. Tom and the dealership team of fabricators and painters began the project in earnest, about three years ago.
Chassis mods began with a Camaro front end, but the results were not satisfactory. Fabricator Kirk Hum redid the front end, this time using a new tube chassis and a Heidts front end. Ladder bars from Applied Racing Technologies hold the 12-bolt rear, fitted with 4.56 gears and Strange axles. Disc brakes and coilovers upgrade the handling, while the Air Ride Technologies air-suspension system puts the truck's altitude under the driver's control. All of the suspension mods were directed toward the awesome new power plant, the next item on their agenda.
The engine compartment was carefully detailed with a smooth firewall and fender wells, in order to properly showcase the authoritative 454ci V-8 crate motor from GM. Fitted with a polished Weiand 671 supercharger, the engine was bored .060 over, fitted with 8:5:1 pistons, a Crane cam, Stage II Chevrolet aluminum heads, an HEI ignition, and a beautiful set of custom exhaust headers that flow into a pair of Thrush mufflers. A Griffin radiator and a 16-inch electric fan keep temps in the green. In order to handle the more than 600 hp, the truck uses a beefed-up 700-R4 transmission and custom driveshaft. Boze 22x10-inch wheels in the rear and 20x8-1/2-inch versions up front emphasize the aggressive nature of the truck, while the Toyo rubber, 40 series in the rear and 45 series up front, gets the power to the ground.
During the discussion on how to modify the all-steel body, many alternatives were considered, but the decision was made not to chop the top. Since Lamb is fairly tall, it would make the truck uncomfortable to drive. The next best thing was to make it appear longer, lower, and wider. So, the team removed all four fenders and cut them, widening the fronts by 4 inches and the rears by 6 inches. In order to span the new 8-inch-wider gap up front, three separate grilles were used, cutting two and fitting the pieces into the third. The grille bars were welded together, smoothed, and painted to match the exterior. The same process was employed with the front bumper, using three to make one full-width unit and then hiding the weld lines behind new bumper guards. Running boards were extended using a second flared section welded to the first, with NASCAR-style, stainless exhaust tips exiting in front of the rear wheels. Tom found a set of Prowler taillights at the Chrysler dealership and decided they would be the perfect choice for the widened truck. Fabricator Kirk Hum reshaped the lenses, heating and bending them until they conformed to the new fenders.
The pickup bed, itself, was not widened; although the tailgate was welded shut and 2-inch tubing was welded to the bed sides for a rounded edge. The rear pan was rolled to create a pleasing contour, then the license plate was rolled to match. A flush-mounted fiberglass tonneau cover perpetuates the smooth flowing lines. Inside, the new wood floor was raised 6 inches to accommodate all of the hidden components involved in the operation of the truck, such as the evaporator for the air-conditioner, booster for the power brakes, twin-electric fuel pumps for the engine, twin air compressors for the suspension, and the linear actuator that remotely opens the tonneau cover. A custom aluminum fuel cell resides under the bed, while all of the controls for the Air Ride air suspension are inside the bed, located in a custom-built aluminum box with a Plexiglas lid. Keith Brown took care of smoothing all the metalwork on the body. Then, Keith Brown and Lou Huntington sprayed the '02 Corvette Red in the company paint booth.
The two-tone interior begins with a set of Tea's Design seats in beige leather with everything else created to match. A Grant steering wheel on a Flaming River column and a Dakota Digital gauge package keep the driver and truck in close contact. Creating sounds when the 454 is quiet, the Pioneer head unit is mounted in a new overhead console and the stereo speakers are located behind the seats and in the kick panels. To improve the view, the original vented side windows were eliminated in favor of a single, electrically-powered pane of glass. Meanwhile, the Vintage Air ensures comfortable cruising even in Florida's sultry weather. The Chevrolet emblems in the headliner and behind the seats underscore the truck's roots. Although it took more than two years from start to finish, the completed truck is not only fun to drive, but also has now taken a well-deserved place of honor in Lamb's collection. Look for it to become a regular on the Southeast show circuit.