There are times when truck lovers see a vehicle they simply can't live without. This may be especially true if the object has a value-enhancing historical significance. For John Davis of Forest Grove, Oregon, the work of famous customizer and builder Sam Barris was always inspiring. When John saw this likeness of one of Sam's past creations, he felt he had to own it. Another close connection exists here, as well. John's trucking business offered a nice home for the custom Chevy pickup, and ownership allowed John to drive a somewhat smaller truck to local events on sunny days. The '56 Chevy pickup now resides in John's personal garage, called "Papa's Toys."
The pearl white body with blue scallops, the lowered stance, and the 3-inch chop turns heads when this beauty drives by. Upon closer inspection, viewers see the downward-angled bedrails at the rear and the top of the tailgate tipped forward to meet the rear flowing lines. The non-opening tailgate has been molded into the lower bed and wraps around under the bed to create a rolled pan. Like an art project, a single upward-pointing scallop and pinstriping accent the license plate that's centered and frenched into the molded pan. The rear fenders and sidesteps have all been molded into the bed just like Sam would have wished. Under the step, a short imitation side pipe adds a classic touch. At the lower rear of the back fenders, you may recognize the '56 Chevy passenger-car taillights molded between the bed and fender.
By tipping the B-pillars forward, the cab emphasizes a forward-motion feeling. The tailgate and the rear fenders have also been extended at the bottom to echo the angle mentioned above. To accommodate the lower stance, the bed floor has been raised 3 inches and upholstered inside with blue and white carpet and color-matched Naugahyde.
The cab has been chopped 3 inches, the corners of the doors have been rounded, and the handles were removed. The hood has been pancaked, lowered in the center, and lengthened, and the twin peaks were accentuated. The modified grille features two painted grille bars. The front bumper has also been molded to the body for a smoother Sam Barris theme. A pair of non-functional spotlights has also been added for the retro look.
A matching blue-and-white tuck 'n' roll theme has been carried over from the door panels to the floor hump and onto the seat and dash. The '60s look is continued inside the cab as much as possible. The door panels and door window trim have been chromed, while anything that would unbolt from the dash has also been chromed. The center of the dash has been modified somewhat to accept the four 2 1/8-inch diameter Moon gauges above the glovebox. Notice how the triangular-shaped panel on the driver-side (where the original instruments went) and on the passenger-side of the dash have been filled with vented, flat stainless panels. The small circles below each of these original panels have been filled with a small speedometer on the left (above the steering column) and a small tachometer at the bottom of the passenger-side matching panel. The dash-high floor shift handle, operating the Turbo 400 trans, adds another touch of the '50s and '60s styling that was popular during the Sam Barris era.
A '78 Camaro donor car supplied the front clip with 11-inch disc brakes, springs, steering, and an antisway bar. The Camaro rearend supplied the 3.70:1 gears, antisway bar, and 10-inch drum brakes. The tilt column is also from the '78 Camaro.
The engine is a '68 Chevy 396ci V-8 that features a Competition Cam camshaft, Edelbrock aluminum intake, and Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor topped off with a Mr. Gasket air cleaner and chromed valve covers. The stock cab-mounted fuel tank was relocated, and a custom 18-gallon tank was mounted at the rear of the chassis.
The '50s and '60s 10-inch wide aluminum American five-spoke wheels mounted in four Winston P235/70R15 tires capture the low stance and retro look. The tough part of owning a number of neat cars and trucks is deciding which one to enjoy for the day-not a bad hardship to endure. And the tribute to Sam Barris makes the trip all the sweeter!