If there is one phrase that's sure to run chills down the spine of just about any red-blooded American male, it would have to be, "Honey, would you like to go shopping?" But when Johnny Edmundson's wife, Frances, posed the dreaded question, it was with great relief that he also heard the words "pickup truck" and "antique" in the same sentence. Johnny has been an avid fan of hot rods and old trucks since his teen years, and he shares this passion with Frances, who often accompanies him to various swap meets and shows. This is why she popped the question. She had seen quite a few customized classic trucks at various shows and had grown fond of the look of five-window Chevys, and together they agreed that if they found the right truck, Johnny could put together one of their own.
After quite a bit of searching, the Tennessee couple finally found what some folks might refer to as a basketcase for a fairly nominal fee. The truck had potential lying under its thick patina, even if it was a hybrid of years-a 1954 five-window cab and chassis sporting the front sheetmetal from a '49 pickup.
Once dismantled, the frame was thoroughly cleaned in preparation for being powdercoated to match the paint sample Johnny chose for the truck's sheetmetal. Resigned from the start to the fact that some parts could be saved while it was best to replace others, Johnny opted to replace the Chevy's torque tube with a new 9-inch Ford that came equipped with 3.50 gears. Suspension for the rear was updated with Magnum springs and tubular shocks. Rear braking is courtesy of a new pair of GM drums and shoes.
To update the truck's front suspension, a complete Fatman Fabrications setup with new springs and antisway bars replaced the mile-worn stock pieces. As in the rear, new shocks were trusted to keep the rubber on the road up front. Johnny completed the rolling chassis with timeless five-spoke Chrome American rims fitted with BFGoodrich tires front and rear. Ididit manufactured the tilt steering column, which is topped with a Lecarra steering wheel.
When it came time to choose a powerplant, Johnny decided on a 350-inch Chevy small-block with four-bolt mains. Building the motor was the handiwork of Bucky and Clark Hinkle of Hinkle's Machine Shop in London, Tennessee. The brothers bored the cylinders to fit a set of .060-over Wiseco TruForged pistons that employ Speed-Pro double-moly rings to seal in the pressurized mixture. The crankshaft was Magnafluxed, turned, and balanced to ensure a smooth-running motor. Johnny wanted to offer an understated presence under the hood to anyone who gives the truck a casual glance, so after the heads were ported and fitted with new valves, guides, and springs, they were capped with stock '60 Chevy valve covers. Hidden beneath the benign-looking '66 Chevy air-cleaner housing is a Holley 600-cfm carb bolted to a polished Holley intake manifold that ensures efficient fuel delivery to the warmed-up motor.
Once everything was in place, Craig Brooks, owner of Craig's Hot Rod Shop in Knoxville, was called on to construct an efficient exhaust system that is quiet while still letting the motor breathe enough to make power. The centerpiece of the driveline is a GM 4L60 transmission Johnny located at Marshall's Transmission, also in Knoxville. The rebuilt tranny sports a B&M cooler and a Lokar shifter.
When it came to the truck's body, Craig Brooks of Craig's Hot Rod Shop was delegated the job of making all the repairs and any welding needed to make the mismatched cab, cowl, and various new pieces fit together. Once again, Johnny called on Craig to customize a set of aftermarket bumpers to fit his unique application. Once Craig was done working his magic on the steel, Terry Cummings and the crew of Cummings Custom Classics in Maryville, Tennessee, were tasked with making the body panels arrow-straight and smooth as glass before spraying on the PPG base and clearcoat.
To enhance the level of creature comfort in the cab, Johnny started with a TEA's Design Bucket Bench seat wrapped in Lipstick Red leather by Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto Interior in Knoxville. Steve used the same red leather to cover the sweeping, ergonomically pleasing door panels he installed. The dash, which had been painted a matching red by Terry Cummings, was filled with a pair of Classic Gauges that feature all the basics plus a small tach located at the base of the speedo. Taming the summer heat is a Vintage Air Gen II air conditioner, and to help Johnny and Frances pass the miles on the way to events, a Kenwood stereo system designed and installed by David Legra fills the cab with tunes. The final stage of the build was the installation of an EZ Wiring harness by wiring wizard Glen Shahbas.
So the next time your significant other is poised and ready to spring a potentially loaded question, remember the story of Johnny and Frances. You just might not be so quick to tune her out.
Johnny went to great lengths to give the four-bolt 350-inch small-block Chevy the appearan
Stunning is the only way to describe the Lipstick Red leather interior by Pro Auto Interio