Obviously, the editorial staff has the opportunity to see a great many vintage trucks as we travel around America, and as a result, it's difficult to uncover the human-interest story behind each and every one of them. Over the past few years we've learned that some trucks are constructed over several years or, in a few cases, decades. Others are built in mere months.
We've also learned that few individuals work completely alone. Restoring a truck from the ground up requires a vast knowledge of metal fabrication and body-working skills. On the whole, we've learned that homebuilt trucks can be exceptionally well crafted, but the highest-quality trucks we see are most often turnkey projects built by very experienced professional shop crews. These crews have a wide variety of power tools and computer-controlled machines on hand that allow highly trained fabricators to construct the highest-quality custom modified creations.
And so we turn to this orange '48 Chevy. Soon after his 60th birthday, Roger Hendren of Kissimmee, Florida, decided to hire a shop to build his dream truck. Roger and his wife are in the far South only during the winter months, migrating to Bryson City, North Carolina, to avoid Florida's hot summers.
Roger had decided long ago that he'd one day have a truck that would make everyone stop and stare. He needed a shop with an excellent reputation. Scott's Rod Shop in St. Cloud, Florida, had precisely the reputation for excellence he was looking for. After Roger selected the builder, it was time to purchase a truck to build. His idea of a neat ride was a '48 Chevy five-window pickup.
Since the truck was to be driven frequently, Roger made plans for the suspension to be as comfortable as any late-model hauler. Roger decided to get the crew at Vision Rod & Custom in Cleveland, Georgia, to install a Heidt's SupeRide II on boxed framerails. Visions suggested Heidts 2-inch drop spindles, sway bars, and Aldan chrome coilover shocks to lower the frontend and add sports car handling. In the rear, Aldan Pro coilovers and a triangulated four-link, a nice change from the stock leaf springs, mount a Currie Enterprises/Ford 9-inch rear axle with posi-traction.
An S-10 fuel tank was modified to provide a safer location for fuel. Once all welding and grinding was complete, the crew smoothed out the frame and sent it to the paint booth for new orange paint. To get the frame stopping efficiently, Wilwood Explorer disc brakes were mounted. For rolling stock, American Racing Torque-Thrust II's, 16x8 and 17x.9.5, mount Falken rubber 235/45R16 front and 255/45R17 in the rear.
While waiting on the chassis, Scott, Josh, and Jimmy (of Scott's Shop) fabricated a custom bed. They started with the back-half of a '93 Chevy Stepside, to which they molded a pair of original '48 Chevy fenders. They also welded the tailgate closed, added a custom roll pan with Hagan teardrop taillights, and radiused the front of the bed to match the shape of the cab's back panel. There was also plenty of metalwork to the cab that occurred beforehand. The door handles were shaved, the cowl and side vents were filled for a smooth appearance, and the firewall was also filled and smoothed. A custom front roll pan was added, and the set of Hagan headlights were frenched in the front fenders. And a pair of smooth running boards were modified and mounted below the cab and bed. The last detail was a set of smooth aftermarket mirrors with turn signals.
Afterward, the body panels were rolled into the paint booth and sprayed with a PPG Bright Orange. Then ghost flames were applied on the hood. Scott Chiavini, owner of Scott's Rod Shop, was responsible for the final bodywork and the bright topcoat. After the paint was thoroughly dry, the chassis was rolled into the paint shop for assembly of the freshly painted body.
When that phase was complete, a set of Alfa Romeo six-way power-adjust buckets were chosen, then wrapped in doeskin-colored Katzkin leather and vinyl. Brown woven-wool carpet covers the floor. The typically bare steel interior door panels also received a custom-molded door panel, along with Pioneer speakers mounted in the doors. The headliner has a matching design and houses the Kenwood CD player. Raye Easters in Taft, Florida, was responsible for all of the upholstery fabrication
A custom metal console was built to flow from the back cab panel forward to the custom-made dash, housing a set of Dakota Digital gauges and a hidden cup holder. The console also mounts the HVAC controls, power-window controls, and the fuel-door popper. A Lecarra billet and leather steering wheel mounts to the top of a '79 Chevy van tilt column. A heat and A/C system from Southern Air keeps the cabin comfortable, while the chrome Sanden 508 A/C compressor and Power-Master alternator shine under the hood.
All this custom metal, leather, and paint would not be very exciting without a strong power supply to get it moving quickly. Scott and his crew reworked a 350ci '79 Chevy V-8 engine mated to a '90 700-R4 trans. Both received a complete rebuild along with a mild cam, Edelbrock intake, and 650cfm carburetor. A Concept One pulley system and power-steering pump were polished and bolted on the front of the block. Chrome-plated aluminum valve covers from Southern Rods added extra-bright detail. A Walker radiator with an electric fan, condenser, and transmission cooler keep everything cool. Block hugger headers hooked to 2-inch pipes and Flowmaster mufflers send the spent gases rearward.
After driving his truck to his summer home in North Carolina, Roger couldn't be happier. He has a head-turning truck that will elicit stares and envy for another 50 years.