Tri-Five Chevy panel trucks are not held in the same high regard as Tri-Five Cameos and standard 1/2-ton pickups. We're not sure why they haven't been as desirable when selecting street-truck project material-probably because of lower production numbers. But one fact about panels will soon become obvious. After seeing David Gongora's '56 Chevy panel, plenty of truck lovers are going to say, "Why didn't I think of building something like that!"
The street-van craze wave crested decades ago along with bell-bottom jeans, shag carpet, and waterbeds. However, we're seeing more of these Tri-Five panel trucks being built with the same attention to detail as some of the outdoor-event award-winning pickups for the obvious reasons of affordability and versatility. In addition, all the modern pickup suspension parts and engine accessories are equally comfortable when bolted to a panel truck.
Pomona, California, bodyshop owner David Gongora is old enough to remember the van craze, but because he had a Chevy panel truck when he was in high school, he also remembers how many friends he could haul around in comfort. When he came across this '56 panel several years ago, his memories of high-school good times brought back a desire to have a very cool vintage vehicle that could be a catalyst for friends and fun. Party on David!
After being reeled in by the super-straight body panels and Amber-Fire paint, we were delighted to find an interior that had an equal amount of sex appeal. Beside a Sean Dunn of Advanced Stereo kickin' Kenwood stereo, TV/DVD/CD super sound system, there's an abundance of laser light and color-changing fiber optics to have viewers comparing the psychedelic interior lighting to modern night clubs. (oooh, the colors!) David's good friend, Doc Hildebrant of Artful Expressions Auto Interiors, is responsible for the sin-bin interior mood with its combination of suede leather, snakeskin, and plush carpet. There's also an inviting handbuilt bar and rear bench seat to attract partygoers to Gongora's rolling rock concert. (Carlos Santana concert DVDs are in the video rack.)
In fact, all the details of David's panel truck have a resemblance to the comfortable van interiors of the '60s and '70s-not an accident for this experienced bodyshop owner. And when we've observed David at local events, there's always a crowd of admirers gathered around enjoying the sound system while examining the interior details. So if you happen across an un-restored Tri-Five panel truck, remember what David did to this one. You might see greater potential in this cavernous cargo hauler. David's pulsating rolling sound system had us remembering waterbeds, beads, and nubile maidens with waist-length hair and tie-dyed T-shirts. Party on!