For 35 years, Doyle Thomas of Longview, Texas, has toyed with the custom car and truck hobby. His unique automotive interests have created a collection of over 35 street rods, trucks, and Corvettes. As the owner of a chain of Whataburger restaurants across East Texas, he has combined the fast food franchises' initial idea with his personal hobby and evolved them into something unique. Doyle's restaurant themes range from hot rods to rock and roll, with alternating hot rods as the centerpiece of some dining rooms.
About two years ago, Doyle decided to dabble in classic trucks. Typical of his desire to serve up a special spread, he concocted the idea of an early model pickup on a 3/4-ton chassis. The truck was actually an afterthought to something bigger. Upon purchasing a '48 Spartan aluminum travel trailer for an extensive restoration, Doyle realized he needed to tow it from show to show. The in-progress trailer will become a display case on wheels for his street rods, with a custom-built sitting area in the front.
Doyle immediately contacted an old friend from Florida. Experienced shop owner Tim Raspberry, of Phantoms in Jacksonville, has been creating custom pieces for the boating industry and in recent times turned his hobby of street rodding into a business. Four years ago, Tim introduced the rodding community to his all-fiberglass '48 Chevy body at the Street Rod Nationals. Since then, he has delivered 18 completed vehicles, with a long list of backorders. After seeing Tim's original truck, Doyle decided he wanted one, but personalized. Tim immediately began customizing the original for his long-time friend and customer.
The dimensions of Tim's 'glass Chevy cab differ in every way from the original steel '48 Chevy pickup. First, it's channeled over the frame 10 inches to give it the right stance with a stock chassis. Four inches are sliced from the top, while the cab is stretched an additional 22 inches. A suicide-style third door on the passenger side was included, as was a custom bed and tonneau, which comes lined with diamond plate as an option. A 30-gallon GM fuel cell was mounted in the stock location.
The extended cab was positioned on a stock '88 Chevy 3/4-ton standard longbed chassis and secured with a total of 12 bolts. A 'bagged '99 Chevy rearend with 3.56:1 gears was also installed. After pulling the burned-out '99 Chevy Z28 motor, Tim dropped in a new Corvette LS1 and left it stock internally. Because of its all-aluminum construction, the LS1 doesn't overheat and is the only engine Tim puts in his creations, describing other V-8s as antiquated dinosaurs. The 4L60E transmission was also left stock. A set of 11-inch drum brakes at the rear and 12-inch ventilated and cross-drilled discs at the front reigns in the rolling convoy.
Tim passed the project on to a friend and collaborator to match the superior bodywork in the interior. Byron Terry, owner of Terry Brothers in Jacksonville Beach, started by installing a set of red leather-appointed Oldsmobile Intrigue bucket seats. The rear seats were then custom made by Byron, who Tim calls, "an artist who doesn't charge like a prima donna." The rest of the interior was completed with a custom dash and yards of red leather.
After the exterior and interior work was completed, Tim delivered the truck to Doyle in New Orleans. The 618-mile drive, made in only eight hours, further testified to Tim's belief in all-stock mechanicals. The Colorado Custom Wheels 18- and 20-inchers, front and rear respectively, wrapped in P245/50ZR18 and P275/45ZR20 BFGoodrich rubber also inspired confidence on the road.
The truck later made its way back to Longview, where the second stage of the build continued. Brandon Long, owner of Kreative Images, only accepts high-end custom work in his shop. Doyle was immediately impressed with his clean, custom work on a number of other vehicles. Brandon enthusiastically began dressing the LS1 engine and engine compartment with billet pieces he created in his shop. He also handcrafted an injector cover that streamlines the entire engine and adds to its full-speed-ahead character.
Brandon then added to the already tasty interior with an intense dose of audio accessories. After constructing a box that slid smoothly between the rear seats, he covered the opening with a mesh screen to hide the 10-inch Alpine subwoofer. He complemented the lows with some Alpine mids and highs at the rear passengers' feet. All this amplification was tied together with a Sony in-dash CD player at the front of the cabin and an amp attached to the driver-side rear panel. Speed Scene Wiring in San Antonio, Texas, wired everything into the harness.
The final dressing for the hauler came in the form of a Viper Red and Gloss Black topcoat. After discussing and deciding on the colors with Doyle, Brandon presented a graphic idea that had a Cameo design influence. The mock chrome body trim separates the two-toned coat and extends from above the front grille to the rear, where it hovers over the recessed license plate. It was then covered with clearcoat to bring out every custom curve of the body.
Although the truck is destined to tow an in-progress project, it already received attention at the recent Lone Star Nationals, where it was chosen for a Goodguys' Pick. This daily driver spends extended hours on the Texas interstates, according to Doyle, who describes it as, "a true street rod pickup with great looks and a sweet ride." Just imagine the looks it will earn pulling an old-school silver bullet trailer - watch the drool, you're getting it all over the pictures.
Wall-to-wall red leather warms...
Wall-to-wall red leather warms even the coolest passenger. The extended cab gives back-seat passengers enough room to relax in style.
The digital display keeps...
The digital display keeps Doyle easily informed of what's going on in the engine and on the road.
The engine moves you even...
The engine moves you even when it's standing still. A hand-formed injector cover keeps the engine cool and cruising.
The subtle curves of the exterior...
The subtle curves of the exterior were transferred onto the door panels with the use chrome strips and luscious red leather.
A diamond-plate bedliner is...
A diamond-plate bedliner is just one of the options available with Tim's trucks.
Silver and red is a dangerous...
Silver and red is a dangerous combination, especially when the driver can't keep his eyes off it while on the road.
This hauler rolls on curved...
This hauler rolls on curved five-spoke Colorado Custom wheels over the highways and byways of Eastern Texas, with some protection from BFGoodrich.
The three-dimensional chrome...
The three-dimensional chrome graphics send nostalgic waves down anyone's spine.