The last phase of the mechanical improvement was fitting in the tranny that came attached with the small-block motor, a '70 Turbo 400 that boasts a kit to improve the shifting points, along with a TCI Street Fighter 2,900-rpm stall-speed converter, B&M cooler, and Lokar column shifter. The tilt steering column was topped off with a Challenger Series four-spoke steering wheel from the folks at Grant.
Mike's handiwork also extends to refurbishing the interior. The stock '55 bench seat was tossed in favor of one Mike pulled from an '87 Chevy he re-covered in a charcoal fabric. The cab's floor received wall-to-wall carpeting with replacement door panels from Brothers that help tidy things up. The dash cluster is also from Brothers and is filled with a full complement of Auto Meter gauges, including a tach and boost gauge. For wiring, Mike yanked out the minimal stock '55 harness and laid in an 18-circuit beauty from Painless. Now the '55 easily handles the electrical demands of an Alpine stereo backed with a 10-inch Infinity subwoofer and Rockford Punch amps.
The body was pretty rough, so Mike had to replace all the sheetmetal with the exception of the cab. The final stage, the paintwork, was a task Mike left to a friend and pro, Larry Eperjesi, proprietor of Larry's Paint & Body in Lake Dallas, Texas. Much like a gearhead TV show, Larry was given the daunting challenge of spraying the PPG Concept tint-base white on short notice to have the entire job wheeled out and ready for Mike to haul to the truck's debut on the Dallas-Fort Worth show circuit. While Mike was at the '55's first show, he called Larry and told him the truck was awarded its first Best of Show trophy.
During the five years of work it took to build the '55, Mike received help from his friends Rory Roberts, Dennie Littrell, and Jeff Clark, but it was the endless patience of his wife and kids that really made Mike's dream possible. That first trophy was for them. CCT