In the world of hot rods, there are two kinds of enthusiasts: professional builders and hobbyists. Even though these two subsets share very different professions, they are separated by very little when it comes to their passion. And along with numerous similarities, they also share difficulties. For instance, one of the most common problems amongst all builders is what to build next. In the custom classic truck world, this is the equivalent of writer's block. Picking the next project is possibly the most difficult choice a builder can make, largely in part because of the enormous physical, emotional, and financial commitment required. For Paul Kirkland of Blairsville, Pennsylvania, it was no different, and he quickly found himself in this all too familiar scenario once again.
Over the years Paul has been the proud owner of several classic hot rods. His rsum includes a '55 Chevy, a '73 Oldsmobile, and a '68 Chevelle. For his next project, Paul wanted to take a leap in a completely different direction and do something different from anything he had done before. The only question was what. Paul turned toward his friend Joe for inspiration. Joe quickly pointed out that all of Paul's previous creations shared a common theme: they were all classic musclecars and cruisers. He introduced Paul to the idea of building a pickup truck, such as the '71 he himself owned, and Paul quickly agreed. He set his sights on a similar shortbed Chevy; however, there was one major stipulation: whatever the truck may be, it had to have a big-block. After a few weeks of looking, Paul found his gem in the form of an '85 Chevrolet Scottsdale, complete with a 454 big-block. After a little hardball with the owner, Paul quickly began putting his own imprint on the truck.
The first step was to ditch the mundane wheels that floated between the wheelwells and the asphalt. Paul immediately fitted his pickup with a set of 20-inch Boyd Coddington Smoothie II wheels and Goodyear Eagle 2 tires. Next, he needed a transmission that could complement his big-block and his lead foot. He replaced the TH350 with a TH400 Turbo. After beefing up his transmission, Paul couldn't resist putting his own touch on his 454 big-block. He quickly added a new carburetor and air cleaner from Edelbrock. To achieve that throaty big-block sound, he threw in a set of Doug Thorley headers and a Flowmaster exhaust kit. To carry his newly acquired horsepower to the asphalt, he replaced the stock limited slip rearend with an Eaton posi unit with a set of 3.73 Yukon gears.
Even with all these modifications completed, Paul's Chevy remains a work in progress. The future still holds countless upgrades that will eventually create the truck he aspires to own. Paul has already purchased Edelbrock aluminum heads, new rockers and lifters, and polished dual Edelbrock four-barrels. He also plans on shortening the rear axle to free up space for tires capable of some serious main street fun. As for the rest of the modifications, Paul has to face his next problem, also common to many builders: that thin line between the kids' college money and dad's recreational allowance.
With the basic mechanics installed, Paul went to work on the truck's overall appearance. To gain the stance he wanted, he added two-inch drop spindles and two-inch-lower coil springs in the front. In the rear, he complemented the front by installing a leaf-spring flip kit that brought the rear two inches closer to the pavement. Paul also made a few exterior modifications. He replaced the stock taillights with LEDs, and swapped out the rear sliding window with a solid one-piece window.
He then continued on by bringing in his love for musclecars. What better way is there to mix a musclecar with a big-block Chevy pickup than a cowl induction hood? Exactly! From there he smoothed out the truck's look by ditching the bumpers and installing roll pans in both the front and back. Other refining touches include a billet grille. On the inside, Paul merely touched up things by installing wood grain on the dash and doors. The last step was paint, and he chose to spray his Chevy with a traditional black finish. Not wanting to leave the truck in the hands of just anyone, he turned to the brother of the man who inspired his project, Ron Rick, to lay down the glasslike paintjob. For a finishing touch, a faint red pinstripe graces the truck's beltline.
Fun = a 454 big-block, Edelbrock carburetor and air cleaner, and Doug Thorley headers. And
Paul cleaned up the front of the truck with Boyd Smoothie II wheels, Goodyear tires, a cow