Since the time John Hanser received that ticket to freedom, a valid license, he has been into customizing trucks. However, he did have one minor setback at the time: his dad's name was on the pink slip. Not surprisingly, John and his dad's view of what could/should be done to the truck didn't exactly flow parallel. Now that John has grown up and purchased his own '51 GMC truck, he sings along with Sinatra's "I Did It My Way."
Being a land surveyor in the vast countryside of Northern California, John runs across his fair share of vintage tin in a state of advanced decomposition, including this '51 GMC. Only this '51 didn't stay out in the field to face another day, it was headed home to John's garage. For this build, Hanser didn't hold back. As he didn't have to answer to anyone, he built the GMC the way he had always wanted.
With the truck back at the ranch, John tore it down to the bare frame. Being a DIY type of guy, the entire truck was built by Hanser sans paint and interior, he just started hackin' away at the project. First, a Fat Man ultra-low crossmember with polished stainless steel arms was installed up front. In the rear is another state-of-the-art advancement: a polished stainless four-link with a narrowed Ford 9-inch. At each corner is a Firestone airbag and a Chris Alston adjustable aluminum Varishock for performance and stance. With everything set in place, the frame was boxed, smoothed, notched in the rear, and all the unnecessary holes were filled. For a clean look, John ran a polished stainless hard line for each airbag. The fuel lines are also polished stainless, along with the new frame-mounted gas tank. A Chris Alston tranny mount and driveshaft loop were also incorporated into the revised chassis. Powering the GMC is a brand-new ZZ4 crate motor ... detailed to the hilt of course. First, the block was smoothed and painted to match the exterior. Then a March polished serpentine system was added. In fact, every visible component vital to the engine and its habitat is polished! For a unique, performance-enhancing look, John ditched a run-of-the-mill four-barrel carb for a new Barry Grant Six Shooter setup. Backing the tranny is a smoothed, ceramic-coated Turbo 350-with chrome Lokar linkage, naturally.
With the final say about what stays and goes, John had complete creative freedom and let his mind overflow with ideas. However, he started things off with the No. 1 thing he wanted to do back in the day: chop the top. Armed with tools and perseverance, John hacked 31/2 inches from the top. Next, he sectioned the roof 11/2 inch. The cab was then refined by smoothing all seams, holes, side vents, door handles, locks, tranny tunnel, and the firewall. Along with the shave, the doors also received a suicide job. Up front, the headlights were frenched and the turn signals were relocated inside the headlights. The front bumper and hood were smoothed as well. In the rear, the bed was raised 11/2 inch to accommodate the drop. Bridging the gap between the bed, cab, and fenders, John extended the running board aprons and molded them to the running boards. He also extended the running boards to fill the gap between them and the cab. The rear bumper is from a '55 Chevy. However, it has been smoothed and shortened 11 inches. One of the few jobs John didn't handle was painting the truck. Instead, James Dean Rebel Design, in Sacramento, California, handled the job of laying down the yellow base, along with the yellow-and-blue pearl flames and green-with-gold pearl flames on the GMC. JDRD also worked in 24 Candy Green skulls into the layout. Boyd Coddington 17-inch and 18-inch Shadow rims with Bridgestone rubber complement the exterior.
Inside is more shaved, smoothed metal with a ton of chrome and polished parts. However, what sets the interior apart from the exterior is the outlandish upholstery stitched up by Marshall's Custom Upholstery in Newcastle, California. Instead of going contemporary, John had Marshall's stitch up the 3-inch chopped Glide seat in a Pearly Gold with snakeskin inserts. The door panels also followed the same suit. Up top is a custom-polished aluminum console.
It's clear that when John got to build his '51 he pulled out all the stops. Then again, he's had some time to think about it!