Some things you just can't part with, especially when they hold sentimental value. For Lori and Royce Ring it was this '53 Chevy, dubbed Ol' Red. Lori's husband, Roger, bought the truck back in '79 as a daily driver, but that all ended with Roger's death during the SCORE Baja race in '82. Instead of selling the truck, Lori kept it so her then three-year-old son, Royce, could drive his father's old truck for his first ride.
When Royce turned 16 things played out just as planned-he began driving the Chevy after his mom had the inline-six refreshed. However, it wasn't too long before Royce was out of high school and on to a career in Major League Baseball-he currently is a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. This meant, once again, the truck project was on a 10-year hiatus. A year ago the truck's fate changed once again when Lori met builder Dana Mox. Together they began the process of rebuilding the '53 Chevy. Although not present at the time-Royce was then playing for the New York Mets-he still gave his input on the build from the East Coast. Between the three of them this is how things unfolded.
With the intention to drive the Chevy as much as possible, it was decided there was only one road to take in terms of building a chassis: to junk the outdated factory ensemble and go with a new aftermarket rolling chassis. Dana choose to throw an RB's Obsolete Serious Hardware chassis under the truck mainly because the new rectangular, boxed chassis offered the truck the rigidity and driveability needed in order to "behave" on the road. Up front the chassis is outfitted with a Mustang II setup, disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering. Complementing the front, out back the chassis features a Currie 9-inch and leaf springs. Helping the truck hug the ground is the fact the chassis is set up with front and rear sway bars. With the underpinnings under control, it was time to sort out the powerplant issue. As six-bangers are good for travelling from point A to B, it would have worked, but what fun would that have been? So, a new GM350 HO deluxe crate motor with GM Vortec heads was chosen. Bringing some appeal to the motor is a Zoop's serpentine system and a Billet Specialties air cleaner. Feeding the new motor is a Rock Valley rear-mounted gas tank. To handle driving that ranged from around town gas-n-go's to long hauls is a TCI 700-R4 tranny with a Hughes 2,800-stall converter and B&M trans cooler. Putting things in motion is a set of Budnik rims-18x10's in the rear and 17x8's in the front-with Dunlop rubber, 285/50/18's in the rear and 245/50/17's in the front.
When it came time to handle the bodywork, Lori and Royce wanted to keep the truck stock-appearing, just as it had always been. They did decide to tweak a few things here and there though. For starters, Dana removed the side vents on the cab and the gas filler neck. With that finished, he then smoothed the firewall. As for the bed and fenders, they were tossed aside and a new bed and front/rear fenders were ordered and installed. Instead of sticking with the stock taillights, Dana modified the rear roll pan to accept '41 Chevy taillights. He also modified the driver-side rear fender to accept a Hagan gas filler door. When it came time to pick a color Royce and Lori wanted to stay with red, because that's what it was when Roger drove it-yet they didn't want the truck to blend in with all the other red trucks out there. By pure chance Royce happened to run across the perfect color while shopping for a new car: DeBeers Ruby Red Metallic. Tod Overton was called up to work the body and spray the truck in DeBeers Ruby Red Metallic. Once painted, Dana finished assembling the truck with a new '53 front bumper, '54 rear bumper, So-Cal swan-neck mirrors, and an oak bed.