The saying "experience is the best teacher" definitely applies to the custom classic truck hobby. There's a good chance the latest vintage truck an enthusiast builds is going to be the greatest they've ever constructed.
When an individual has a 40-year history in the hobby and 13 prior cars and trucks created to one's credit, the latest custom classic pickup is bound to be the best. Such is the case for Ken and Barbara Zimmerman of Longwood, Florida's second-series '55 Chevy Stepside.
Earlier this year, Ken e-mailed CCT a brief description and some jpegs of the Chevy. I remember the day distinctly. In anticipation of getting a head start to the workweek, I was wading through my e-mails on a Sunday evening when Ken's note came in. Kismet! The '55 had the right stance, nice paintwork, spot-on panel fitment, a leather-appointed interior, and a shiny engine in a smoothed engine bay. On a fact-finding mission, I replied to Ken's missive straightaway with a bunch of questions. All my queries came with the desired replies, but there were two problems. The Zimmermans lived in the other corner of the country and didn't have definite plans to attend shows CCT would be going to.
Ironically, we had a similar challenge with another Chevy owner we wrote about in the June '06 issue ("Quick Study"). With the Zimmerman's '55, we found a different solution to getting great photography. The owner asked a local award-winning photographer, Susan Germyn, to snap some photos of the Chevy. Thanks to Susan, I didn't have to fly to my birthplace.
Since he was raised in San Diego, California, Ken wanted to find his next project from the Golden State, as opposed to his current Golden, er, Orange State. Great SoCal friend and car guy Steve Ravelli gave the Internet-found hauler a thorough going-over and arranged transport to the East Coast. Once the Chevy arrived in Orlando, Ken drove it home and begin deconstruction. He took the cab, bed, and body panels to good friend Paul Metz, owner of Metz Rod and Custom in Mont Dora, Florida. While Paul renewed the Chevy's exterior, Ken boxed the original frame and installed a Fat Man Fabrications IFS with polished stainless steel A-arms. The chassis is now 4.5 inches lower in the front and sports a Lincoln Versailles Ford 9-inch rear axle with the Versailles' disc brakes. The owner fabricated a 30-gallon aluminum fuel tank and installed it behind the differential before plumbing the fuel system with stainless lines.
A Billet Specialties air cleaner...
A Billet Specialties air cleaner and valve covers dress the 454ci Chevy big-block V-8. With a polished compressor, the Hot Rod Air HVAC system that keeps the cab comfortable helps brighten the engine bay.
A Billet Specialties simulated...
A Billet Specialties simulated wood and real billet aluminum steering wheel offers a classic touch to the well-executed interior. The owner fabricated the ball-milled underdash and between-seat panels. As for the gauge bezel, it's a Brothers piece.