It takes a person with real guts to spend good money for a restored longbed pickup truck, and then on a whim cut it in half to make a panel truck. it wasn't that Joe Bandor of Ft. Wayne, indiana, was out to make anyone cringe, or cry, he just wanted a panel truck. Joe's pearl white and orange panel started life as '70 Chevy pickup that he bought from a friend in the summer of '94. it wasn't long before his career as a bodyman affected his thinking; and sooner than anyone could change his mind the '70 was under the torch. For the main portion of the panel Joe located a '71 Suburban in a wrecking yard and then, after cutting it down to fit the '70's new shortened wheelbase, he fabricated 18-gauge steel to fill in where the 'Burb's windows used to be. Up front, displeased with the "boxy look" of the '70 hood, Joe acquired a '67 hood with its factory pancake and lengthened it 2 inches to fit with the '70 grille. All in all, Joe made short work of the major bodywork, having knocked it out in 30 days with the help of Warren Crowe and Derek imhoff by working late at night after work and through the weekends.
With the panel's new look under control, the next area Joe went after was the engine. originally Joe intended to rebuild the '72 350 that came with his truck. After going through three pairs of cylinder heads trying to find a set that wasn't cracked, he got fed-up and tossed the 350 in favor of a 454. one of the original premises that Joe built his panel around was that it was intended to be a daily driver. So, as soon as Joe had the stock 454 bolted-in, it was time to get back out on the road. it wasn't too long before the day-in and day-out driving had taken its toll on the "rat" motor and it was time to tear back into it.
This is where Joe's friend Bill Pickleheimer, a renowned big-block expert in Joe's neck of the woods, penned a buildsheet for the rat motor, and things really started to get interesting. right off the bat, Bill's plans included boring and stroking the 454 out to 496 inches. Filling the 0.060-over holes above the 4.0- inch stroke crank, Bill dropped in an eight-pack of Keith Black 10.5:1-pistons with Total Seal rings. For valve timing, Joe listed only that the cam was a custom grind and let it go at that. he was less secretive about the Cloyes timing gears and chain. For induction, the 496 uses a K&n-filtered holley 750 double pumper mounted on a stock Chevy aluminum intake manifold. For headers Joe said they spent four days welding up a custom set that dumps into a pair of Flowmasters. When it was all said and done, Joe estimated that the Bill Pickleheimer-built big-block engine should be making about a horse and a half per cubic inch. For transmitting the power to rear wheels Joe's panel relies on the tried-and-true General Motors Turbo 400 automatic transmission controlled with a B&M Pro-Stick shifter.
On the inside of the '70 the interior is a cross between a Pro Comp terror and a teenage love palace on wheels. For the serious stuff there's a full-cage rollbar, Auto Meter gauges, and a Grant steering wheel. For kicking back, and enjoying the privacy a panel truck provides, Joe has a kick-ass sound system based around a Pioneer AM/FM CD head unit. For speakers there's two Crossfire 6-inch round two-ways, two 7x10-inch Kenwood rears, and a 10-inch Crossfire subwoofer to bring out the bottom. Amplification comes from 140-watt and 200-watt Crossfire amps. To tie in all of the panel's electrical needs from supplying basic juice to the Auto Meter gauges and Accel ignition to the sound-system, Joe and his buddies installed a custom wiring harness from the folks at Painless Performance. Still itching, Joe stated that all of the wild custom fiberglass on the inside of his panel, including the custom console, was the first time he did one completely by himself.