Talk to anyone who has ever built a customized classic truck and the odds are good that each person will have a slightly different version of a basic story. For some, the process went relatively easy, while for others, it was enough to drive them insane. When we asked Brian Burch of Huntington Beach, California, to tell us the saga of his wife's '54 Chevy pickup and his face started to scrunch up, we knew the truck had almost driven him crazy. "My wife had been hitting me up for what she described as a cute little vintage truck to run errands. My friend Tom had this '54 in his garage that he started to build but had too many other projects going. I had always liked it, but my wife, who had never seen the '54, had her heart set on a '59 Apache. One day Tom told me he was thinking about selling it, so I took my wife to see it. As soon as she saw it, the deal was done. When we bought it, it had the appearance of being pretty close to finished: It was painted, it ran OK, it had a basic airbag system-all we had to do was put an interior in it and we were ready to drive it, right? Wrong!"

As it turned out, the Burch family and their '54 were just on the threshold of all the details that had to be done to the truck as it appears here. It's not that the '54 wasn't built right in the first place, but it seemed the truck was intent on testing its new owners to see if they were worthy of possessing it.

When Brian's friend Tom owned the '54, the truck was a refugee from the '80s, with white-letter tires, metallic green paint, and a third brake light to boot. In search of a shop to update the Chevy to suit his tastes, Tom enlisted the crew at Eightball Rods & Choppers in Placentia, California, to get the old man stink off of it. The first thing to go was the third brake light. Eightball could have easily gotten by just filling the hole back in, but to be absolutely sure, they chopped the top 3 1/2 inches. Now the rear window openings align perfectly.