1954 Chevy Truck - An Old Skool Truck Rod
Michelel's K9 Kruiser
Having a passion for early-model cars, trucks, trains, and planes can become a lifetime addiction. Brian Burch from Huntington Beach, California, has several professions, including being a contractor, a hardscape landscape designer, and a chemical urethane analyst. Brian also knows about old-skool lines and curves. He inherited his custom and hot-rod passion from his dad, Harold, who drove his mom to the hospital to deliver Brian in a '62 Chevy Bel Air bubble-top 409 stick car. How cool is that?
Brian's wife Michele is a successful interior decorator in SoCal, who is also into cool custom rides. It was her idea to have Brian build her this old-skool fat-fendered '54 Chevy pickup to cruise Huntington Beach's Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway with their two dogs, Spec and Kiwi. Huntington Beach is known internationally as Surf City, USA. But, H.B. is also known as a haven for early and late-model customs, hot rods, and trucks. Just a couple of shops in the zip code are Foose Design, California Street Rods, D&P Classic Customs, KA Custom, and Wheelers Speed Shop.
After checking out Brian and Michele's red and black satin-finished 'dropped '54 Chevy at a local Seal Beach car show, we definitely wanted to capture its old-skool appearance on digital imagery.
The journey began with the truck being delivered to Eight Ball Rods & Choppers in Anaheim, California, where Stefan Annan and his crew removed the cab, fenders, hood, and bed from the factory frame. The framerails were cut short up front to accept an '84 Camaro front clip that was narrowed a couple of inches to allow the front wheels and tires to tuck inside the front fenders and still turn left and right. The original frame crossmembers were removed and new ones were mounted flush with the bottom of the framerails. The remainder of the rails were boxed for added strength and rigidity. A 13-gallon fuel tank was installed under the bed between the framerails. To achieve its slammed stance, Eight Ball Rods & Choppers installed a set of Air Ride Technologies Shockwave pneumatic airbags. Stefan used the '84 Camaro spindles and front disc brakes up front. The '84 Camaro rear end and drum brakes were hung by a custom-built four-link rear suspension. To keep the old-skool appearance, a pair of 15x7-inch red steelies were placed up front, with 15x8-inch in the rear with spider hubs, and were wrapped with 195/60R15 front and 225/60R15 rear Diamondback Classic wide white tires.
The frame was then trailered over to KA Custom in Huntington Beach where Kevin Francis installed the Air Ride Technologies valves, air lines, and fittings. Kevin also bent and installed the fuel and brake lines. Then, he freshened up the '84 305ci V-8 Camaro engine with all-new internal components, including bearings, seals, pistons, rings, rods, a camshaft, lifters, push rods, rockers, valves, and springs. A rebuilt 700-R4 transmission was bolted up to the 305ci block. The engine received plenty of polished aluminum and chrome external goodies, like finned valve covers, a '40s style Caddy batwing air cleaner, a chromed alternator, and an A/C compressor. A pair of Hooker ceramic-coated headers flow into a 2-1/2-inch-diameter stainless steel exhaust and Cherry Bomb mufflers.
The cab's lid was lowered 3-1/2 inches, then the cab was channeled 4 inches. The cab's rear window was not chopped, but lowered to the beltline. The hood center seam was filled, welded, then ground smooth. The cab driprails and the door handles were removed, then shaved for that smooth look. The factory dash was smoothed to be painted red. The bed floor was raised 6 inches to accommodate the 4-inch body-drop, the bed tube rail ends were filled, and the tailgate latches were removed, then relocated inboard. The front fender headlights and rear fender taillights were frenched. Next, the firewall holes were welded up and ground smooth. To keep that hot-rod look, Brian opted to keep the stock chrome grille and front and rear bumpers to maintain a truck-rod look. The guys at Eight Ball Rods & Custom straightened, smoothed, and prepped the body before applying PPG Red gloss to the front and rear fenders and running boards. The cab, hood, bedsides, and tailgate were sprayed with PPG Black Satin. Expert pinstriping by Bob Iverson added to the old-skool look and gave the satin colors some real curb appeal.
Afterward, Tom Sweere and the team at Beach Auto Sound of H.B. installed Michele's rockin' vibe system that enables them to cruise to tunes deployed from an Alpine head unit powered by an Alpine amp. Alpine 6-inch mid and high speakers are located in the kick panels and rear cab quarter panels. A pair of custom subwoofer enclosures house the 10-inch subs and were neatly hidden behind the bench seat. The Alpine touch-screen DVD head unit and Air Ride Technologies control panel were hidden away in the glovebox.
The final stage of Michele's cool custom cruiser was the interior, which was done by Pete Ingles at Westminster Upholstery in Anaheim. The bench seat was borrowed from a Chevy S-10 pickup then refurbished and covered in high quality black and timeless white leather tuck-'n'-roll with red piping. This treatment was carried over to the door panels with the stock armrests reversed for a different look. After applying Dynamat soundproofing, some low-pile black carpet was laid down. The stock '54 Chevy window cranks activate the power windows vertical actions. To capture the stock interior, Kevin Francis at KA Custom installed a set of white faced Classic Instruments Gauges.
Whether Michele is cruisin' Main Street in Huntington Beach with hubby Brian, or the two K-9s Spec and Kiwi, you know people take notice of her cool old-skool ride.
We can't feel too bad for Brian, he just recently purchased a '62 Bel Air bubble top; the same "Storkmobile" his dad Harold drove his mom to the hospital to deliver Brian. He is anxious to begin restoring it real soon. We're sure it will turn out great.