1955 Chevy Pickup - McHenry's Golden Nugget
A Golden Oldie
The '55-'57 Chevy pickup has always been a precious metal among the Bow Tie brigade. This '55 Chevy was taken in trade for spraying a set of flames on a customer's truck. Shane McHenry and his brother Stuart from Lexington, Texas, had initial thoughts of transforming it into a rat rod. After spending six weeks just on the frame and suspension, they decided if they were going to put that much time and effort into a project, it was going to be a serious, custom showstopper. This is when their dad John came into the picture. The three of them own and operate McHenry Custom Auto Body in Blue, Texas. What you see on these pages was a two-year commitment to create this award-winning rolling business card.
After removing the fenders, hood, grille, cab, bed, tailgate, and front and rear bumpers from the original frame, it was then sent out and sandblasted, uncovering fresh steel. The framerails were then boxed using 1/4-inch thick steel plate. The rear section of the framerails were stepped nine inches, allowing increased negative travel of the four-linked rear suspension when the Ride Tech bellows were purged. The American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels and BFGoodrich 295/45R15 chubby tires tuck up inside the rear fenders every time the 'bags are delfated. The entire frame and suspension components were painted Valspar MW5501 two-stage '08 Corvette copper. A TCI Mustang II front clip with two-inch drop spindles and GM disc brakes were grafted onto the framerails just in front of the firewall. A pair of polished aluminum American Torque Thrust II 15x7-inch wheels were consumed in BFGoodrich 195/45R15 rubber and provide the front directional contact patch. Deflating the front Ride Tech pneumatic suspension allows the front bumper to kiss the asphalt.
The '99 Chevy Vortec 5.7L was yanked from a donor Silverado, then cleaned and painted to match the frame using Valspar Corvette Copper. The engine was then freshened up and the original cylinder heads were ported and polished for better flow, then given a needed valve job. A perkier Comp cam was inserted replacing the tired factory cam. A set of new lifters and pushrods were dropped in the lifter bores. To improve the cardiovascular system of the Bow Tie, Shane polished the Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold, before bolting it to the cylinder heads. A 650cfm Edelbrock carburetor was responsible for maintaining a precise air/fuel mixture introduced to each of the eight intake runners. A pair of Sanderson shortie ceramic coated aluminum headers collect into a polished stainless steel 21/2-inch exhaust system that flows into a pair of throaty Moroso mufflers. A pair of Mooneyes polished aluminum finned valve covers and air cleaner were accented with engine block-matching Corvette Copper. The 350 automatic transmission was polished, then a 1500-rpm True Blue torque converter and B&M shift kit were installed. A graceful swan neck Lokar 32-inch shifter was capped with a flaming dice knob that allows for smooth gear shifting selection. The guys at Austin Drive Train cut, polished, and balanced an aluminum driveshaft linking the trans to the narrowed '03 Chevy S-10 rearend that was stuffed with 3.55 gears.
The flawless exterior was taken seriously by the McHenry father and son's crew. The trim molding and emblems were removed and the bumper carriage bolts were shaved and smoothed. The LMC door handles, grille, and headlight bezels were used to preserve the hot-rod truck appearance. A pair of flush teardrop taillights were scribed into the rear fenders. A flat, flush-mounted tailgate was installed above the smoothed rear roll pan. The gas filler on the driver side rear cab corner was removed and smoothed. To complete that smooth shaven look, Shane filled the bed's stake pockets. The oak bed floor was given a multicolored metal flake treatment before coats of clear were applied, enhancing its sparkle. A 13-gallon old-skool Mooneyes spun aluminum fuel tank was mounted on the bed floor. After a couple of coats of sandable primer were laid down, the entire truck surface was block-sanded to a flawless smooth complexion. The entire truck was then given four coats of two-stage House of Kolor Gold Nugget Kandy. The gold basecoat was then buried in numerous coats of clear, then cut, buffed, and polished to a glistening gold nugget shine.
The factory interior dash climate controls were removed, shaved, and smoothed. A Southern Air A/C system and control panel was installed to dial in and maintain a comfortable cab temperature during those sizzling hot Texas summer days. The team at J & H Auto Trim in Austin, covered the Glide split-bench seat, armrest, and door panel inserts with soft beige leather. A layer of Dynamat was sandwiched between the floorboard and plush pile brown carpet creating a heat and sound barrier. The truck's original steering wheel was restored and given a very cool, old skool, two-tone, paint scheme. The original interior door and window crank handles were refurbished and reused. Extracted out from the floorboard is a LoKar whoa-and-go pedal assembly.
During a phone interview with Shane McHenry, he informed us that their '55 Chevy literally took home the Gold at this years '09 Texas Heat Wave by winning Best of Show Fullsize Truck and Best of Show Fullsize Engine. Congrats!