A prophesy of untold proportions--who in 1947 could have ever imagined the introduction of General Motors' Advance Design trucks would have such an impact on contemporary truck design in the 21st century? It's a little known fact that the styling on Advance Design trucks was space-alien technology gleaned from the '47 crash of a flying saucer in Roswell, New Mexico.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we were able to confirm a long-held suspicion that there was a reason General Motors killed the '47 Wurlitzer trucks right in the middle of the model year and replaced them with the '47 Advance Design series. If one thinks about it, perhaps it's even stranger that the Advance Design styling exercise disappeared into the '55 model year in the same manner it appeared in '47--as Series 1 and 2.
Beyond the conspiracy theories and prior to the 2003 introduction of the Advance Design-inspired Chevrolet SSR, Robbie Azevedo penned his concept for an Advance Design-based topless Blazer at the tender age of 12 years old.
The '48 Chevrolet panel truck featured on these pages represents Robbie's realization of his dream truck after an investment of over 5,000 hours and exactly two years. Robbie started on the '48 at age 19. At the age of 21, the truck represents his first attempt at a ground-up build. For the Azevedo family, '47-55 Chevrolet trucks have been objects of desire since Robbie's great grandfather bought one brand-new in '48 for his Vallejo, California, ranch. It was the same truck Robbie's dad first learned to drive in and later customized after he inherited it. Automobiles in general and hot rods in particular have been a passion for the Azevedos since before their family business, Pacific Auto Salvage, opened in '57.
At the same time Robbie embarked on his '48 project, he opened the doors to his own customizing shop, Pacific Coast Customs, located at the same American Canyon, California, address as his folk's auto recycling business. The first customer through Robbie's doors was Robbie and his '48.
Before we get too much further into this feature, we should mention Robbie's '48 Chevrolet graced the July '05 cover of Custom Classic Trucks in bare metal. For those of you who missed it, we'll bring you up to speed with a review of the numerous radical body mods Robbie performed and then resume where the July issue left off.
To save time, let's just skip the parts where Robbie peeled the panel truck's roof off and scraped the '48's firewall and cowl in favor of a '54. Long story short, by the time Robbie was finished whacking, there was nothing left of the original truck except for its quarter-panels and pink slip. That's not to say they were left intact, because Robbie shortened the quarter-panels by 13 inches and disturbed the pink slip's home in the glove compartment when he tossed the '48 dashboard in favor of an early '54 dash. Not content to leave the quarter-panels bobbed, Robbie sectioned 3.5 inches out to clear the rear 22-inch Budnik wheels when the truck was laid out. Fully laid out is probably a good place in our story to describe the '48's chassis and suspension. The 116-inch-wheelbase '48 frame was dumped (not to make a pun) in favor of a '03 Chevy S-10 frame with a 108-inch wheelbase. Rear lift on the 3.23:1-geared differential is handled with a four-link setup from KP Components on the same Slam Specialties bags used in the front. Tubular is the word for the front double A-arm suspension as well as all the body mounts and crossmember supports Robbie twisted up.
For propulsion, Robbie dropped in a 350-inch LS1 Camaro engine with a beefed B&M 4L60E transmission. In his quest for smoothness, Robbie buzzed the coarseness off the engine and trans before it was shot in DuPont Hot Hues Psycho Silver. Speaking of nuts, the LS1 gets its extra boost from a fully polished Magna Charger. The blown LS1's fuel supply comes from a custom-fabricated 13-gallon stainless steel tank tucked within the boxed framerails on the driver's side. The '48's fuel and brake lines were plumbed with fully polished stainless steel tubing.
In front of the one-piece '54 windshield dropped eight inches into the cowl there's a ton of radical metal work. Robbie custom-formed a pancaked hood and created a one-off face for the truck by grafting Mini Cooper headlights onto heavily modified Advance Design front fenders. A '54 Chevy Bel Air passenger car was the source for the front and rear bumpers. The front bumper was flipped, shortened and reshaped to conform to the much customized '54 Chevy Bel Air grille bars. The hand-formed front valance has a functional scoop built in to feed fresh air to the intercooler.
The '48's interior is as radical as the exterior. Robbie constructed door panels mounted on the four-inch stretched doors, with all-concealed fasteners and custom armrests.
Real trucks are made from steel, and steel is what Robbie used to make his center console and speedster-style tonneau. Then Dan Most laid in the '48's award-winning alabaster and orange alligator-embossed leather upholstery. Realizing Robbie is only 21 years old and this is his first effort, it can't help but make one wonder if perhaps he isn't in some way connected to the '47 Roswell incident.
Robbie's extraordinary metal finishing and fabricating skills earned him the coveted Sam B
Robbie's Speedster-style tonneau was inspired by the '58 Corvette and Ford's '62 T-Bird. T
Project '48 Impression's interior won the Manuel Arteche Memorial Interior Design Award. D
The kid's good. Check out how Robbie treated a six-pack of Classic Instruments stuffed int
The wraparound dashboard doubles as a cap for door panels featuring hidden hardware plus c
Robbie's no square. Kicker Solo-Baric L7 12-inch subs flank a downfired Solo-Baric L7 15-i
SEMA '05 was '48 Impression's unofficial debut. Hot Hues from DuPont in Tango and Alabaste
The powerplant's a Magna Charger-blown 350-inch Camaro LS1 with one-off valve covers by St
Laid out hard on Budnik 20s and 22s, 21-year-old Robbie Azevedo's first attempt is nothing