While it's true that all customized classic trucks have the same basic major components such as a frame, body, and driveline, not all of them follow the same process when it comes time for the build. For Costa Mesa, California, resident Harold Davis and his blown big-block-powered '56 GMC, it was anything but a normal evolution. It was such a deviation, in fact, that Harold accidentally ended up building an entirely different truck.
It all started innocently enough--Harold decided he was tired of being a spectator to the custom classic truck scene while he was working on his GMC, so he bought the '55 Chevy gracing these pages to become a participant. When Harold spotted the '55, all he thought he had to do was clean up a few areas and the truck would be ready to roll out to shows. Harold laid out $4,000 cash for the '55 Chevy, then drove it home. This is where it all went sideways. After spending almost 10 minutes trying to jockey the stock '55 Chevy, with its slow and heavy manual steering, into his driveway, Harold decided to add a quicker power steering setup. And while he was at it, the damn truck sat way too high, so it needed to be lowered. Before Harold knew it, the list of modifications had grown faster than a flesh-eating virus, and his $4,000 truck had turned into a $4,000 cab. And sadly enough, even most of the cab's original parts were thrown into the trash heap. Harold was kind of bummed out, but he turned the negative energy into a driving force that had him completing the '55 in less than a year's time.
Starting with the five-five's stock bare frame, Harold went to work boxing and beefing it up to handle a new engine and transmission, along with a completely redesigned front and rear suspension. The new engine was a 350-inch, 355-horse ZZ4 straight out of the crate. For induction, Harold selected an early-style Edelbrock super low-rise dual-quad intake manifold intended for an early Corvette 283 or 327. The fact that the ZZ4 shared the early-style intake bolt pattern was one of the features that attracted Harold to the engine. To supply gasoline to the ZZ4's dual 500-cfm Edelbrock AFBs, Harold mounted a 17-gallon polished stainless steel fuel tank sourced from No Limit Engineering in San Bernardino, California.
After Harold completed assembly of the small-block ZZ4, he toted the engine over to Superior Dyno in Anaheim, California, where it produced 385 horsepower at the flywheel on Superior's engine dyno. With the dyno run out of the way, Harold looked to Randy's Transmission, also in Anaheim, for a beefed 700R4 transmission to stuff in front of a Currie 9-inch setup with positraction and 4.11:1 gears. Just as soon as the '55 was on the road for the first time, Harold ran the truck back to Superior Dyno, where it produced almost 300 horsepower to the rear wheels.
One look at the '55, with its tilt bed lifted and hydro-pump from Red's Hydraulics mounted in place, one might assume it gets its lowered stance at rest from hydraulics, when in actuality the hydro-pump actuates the bed's custom-fabricated box by Hank in Herald, California. Don't ask us anything else about ol' Hank, that's all Harold knew. Contrary to comments from spectators at some of the more rural venues in California where Harold's shown the '55, the dump feature is not for farm chores. Instead, it's for easily fixing a flat on the humongous 18 1/2-inch-wide Hoosier rear tires mounted on 15x15-inch Centerline Convos. Taking a good look at the TCI rear suspension, one will discover the rear's ride height is controlled with airbags canted behind the Currie differential. In front, the suspension is also sourced from TCI utilizing their Mustang II setup equipped with Firestone airbags.
There's not too much on the '55 that Harold didn't do himself, including the bodywork and paint. After installing No Limit's SRF 559 replacement firewall and cherrying out the cab, he moved on to the hood and fenders. With the body parts in primer and thoroughly guide-coated, the next step was for Harold to construct a home spray booth utilizing a canopy fortified with Visqueen. The color and brand of paint Harold sprayed on was an aqua originally intended for a '56 Nash-Rambler Metropolitan formulated in a single-stage from Sherwin-Williams. Surprisingly enough, the job turned out clean enough that Harold brought it up to show quality with a color-sand and rub.The one area most people leave to a shop to handle is the interior, so Harold had the guys at AJ's in Garden Grove, California, stitch up a combination of leather and tweed to cover everything from the door panels to the overstuffed '86 Datsun bucket seats.
These days, with the '55 completed, Harold is no longer a spectator at the truck shows and has been able to return his focus to the '56 GMC. With any luck, we'll be seeing the '56 Jimmy completed in the near future and we'll be able to shoot it for a feature--if Harold doesn't find another $4,000 cab to build.
The dual Edelbrock-carbed...
The dual Edelbrock-carbed '04 ZZ4 produced almost 300 horsepower to the rear wheels on Superior Dyno's dyno. Flowmaster mufflers stifle the sound, but not the performance.
A Currie 9-inch hangs from...
A Currie 9-inch hangs from the TCI suspension aided via air-ride. Red's Hydraulics facilitate the tilt bed actuated with rams made by George in Stanton.
AJ's in Garden Grove stitched...
AJ's in Garden Grove stitched the leather interior visible through windows from Sam's Glass in Stanton, CA. The shifter is a Gennie, and the steering wheel is from Lecarra.
Harold bought a longbed Fleetside...
Harold bought a longbed Fleetside wood kit with blind stainless steel strips from Golden State, then trimmed it down to fit. The rear bumper is a '65 Chevy front narrowed 5 inches.