Some play sports at a young age and become professional athletes. Others have musical abilities and become musicians, singers, or songwriters.
Anne and Don Heckman of Granada Hills, California, express themselves artistically through their life's work. Anne danced ballet from the age of 6, professionally with the San Francisco Ballet Company as an adult, and later taught budding ballerinas. Don has been a professional bodyman and painter since 1969. He has helped build numerous customs, hot rods, and custom classic trucks (see "Painter's Protg," page 48). Don performed much of the bodywork and painted the blue '33 Ford roadster that appeared on the popular '90s TV show Home Improvement, which starred Tim "The Toolman Taylor" Allen.
After painting so many award-winning rides for other hobbyists, Don wanted to build a vintage Chevy truck. One day with a Magoo's Street Rods customer, he bartered away his VW Squareback for a '58 Chevy Fleetside with an aluminum camper shell. When Don removed the camper shell, he realized he had traded for a big-window pickup. Shaving the door handles and emblems and fabricating a custom rear roll pan in the process, he completed the bodywork with confidence.
The truck's foundation required a bit more attention. Magoo's Street Rods in Canoga Park, California, replaced the front suspension with a stock '75 Nova subframe, KYB shocks, and 60/40 Moroso springs. A '86 Firebird contrib-uted a rack-and-pinion steering system and a 10-bolt 3.08:1 differential. KYB gas shocks were also implemented to enhance the the rear suspension's ride. Don ran stainless steel lines for the braking system and supplied the shop that he worked for, Magoo's, with the '86 Firebird's 305ci small-block.
Utilizing TRW forged pistons, chrome-moly rings, a Crane Cams bumpstick, a B&M intake, and a 750-cfm Holley double pumper, Magoo's and Don rebuilt the mill to make 375 horses. To back the engine, the Firebird's TH350 was optimized with a B&M 1,800-stall converter and B&M trans cooler.
With most of the mechanical work accomplished, Don could focus on the most creative component of his craft-applying an artistic paint job. Spraying several coats of custom-mixed candy blues, violets, and ice-blue pearls on the panel paint scheme made for an emphatically unusual '58 Chevy Fleetside. Walt Prey framed Don's work with deliciously detailed pinstriping.
Since such exuberance was embodied in the Chevy's exterior, Don felt a basic interior would be appropriate. After he painted much of the cab in a neutral light gray, Roman trimmed the stock bench seat in light-gray vinyl and dark-gray tweed, using the same materials for the headliner.
Working after-hours and weekends, the Heckman's hauler took but a year to build. Don thanks his wife Anne, who passed away too young last November, for letting him be an automotive craftsman/artist all these years, and for her love and support. "Anne has gone now, but is not forgotten, never in this lifetime, by many people." We offer our condolences, Don, and appreciate making the acquaintance of such a nice guy and automotive artisan.
Though the Heckman's '58 Fleetside...
Though the Heckman's '58 Fleetside has been finished for a while, the exterior appears fresh from Don's paint booth.
For a bit of splash, Don repeated...
For a bit of splash, Don repeated the paint hues on the top of the dash, as well as the door-panel inserts.
Except for the fuzzy dice,...
Except for the fuzzy dice, Roman upholstered the comfortable cockpit.