In 1957, Kevin's grandfather became the proud owner of a brand-new GMC pickup. It eventually made its way to Kevin's aunt and uncle, and then to his father. When Kevin was 28, he was passed the proverbial torch. He drove the pickup periodically over the next few years until the generator froze up and the truck began a 10-year sabbatical. It was during this hiatus that Kevin began pondering how he would restore the truck. The answer came when a friend of Kevin's was customizing his '56 Chevy by putting it on a 1-ton chassis and making it an extended cab. Kevin realized turning his truck into a dually (but making it look as if it came from the factory that way) would be the perfect direction.
No matter what they are, family heirlooms always hit close to home when they come into your possession. When it comes to vehicles, many of us hear stories about a car or truck a relative owned at one point only to say to ourselves, "Man, if only they'd held onto it." Once in a great while, some people are lucky enough to say one of their family members did exactly that ... and now that old classic is theirs. Kevin Balaam is one of the fortunate few.
For the platform, Kevin got his hands on an '82 Grumman Olson bread truck with a GM chassis, which just happened to be the same width as the '57's chassis. The most staggering feat of engineering, however, is the bed. In order to stretch it from the original 71/2-foot length, Kevin purchased a '56 Chevy and '65 Fleetside bed as donors. The bed was lengthened 11 inches (to a total of 100 inches), widened 10 inches, and the Fleetside fenders were used to provide 5 inches of clearance for the extra rear wheels. The oak bed wood is courtesy of Horkey's and Kevin gave it a satin finish. A GMC tailgate was also tracked down to graft into the stock one to account for the extra width and the back sports a '58-59 Chevy bumper. The rear sits on airbags and the entire chassis (which sat pretty high originally) has been lowered 7 inches. One coil was cut from the front springs and 2-inch drop spindles help bring everything down further for a more eye-appealing stance. It rolls on six-lug, 16-inch Alcoa Hot Shots with low-profile tires for the quintessential dually look.
In the front, practically everything you see is stock with the exception being that the windwings were ditched for one-piece windows. One thing that tickles the fancy of many enthusiasts is how nicely the body panels line up. That didn't come without its fair share of adjustments. As many have come to discover, most of these trucks were engineered for practicality rather than aesthetics and the bodies didn't line up well with the chassis. The new frame Kevin was using dipped down too low for the bumpers to line up appropriately so Kevin fabbed brackets to get everything in sync. Since the hood was bolted to the firewall instead of the fenders, it poses an interesting dilemma in a stock restoration ... the fenders have to line up with the hood. With some finessing, the fenders on Kevin's truck are lined up with the chassis, and had to be moved 1/2-inch from center to allow the hood to shut. Kevin had the body shot in Victory Red, which was slightly different than original, but kept the accent color as the stock Artic Beige. It's easy to see in the finished product why so many people are convinced the truck rolled off the production line this way.
Inside the cab, not much has changed. The instrument cluster was restored by United Speedometer and the only non-OEM changes were switching the gen light to a voltmeter and fitting a stock-looking tach where there was a place in the cluster for it. A shortened '67-72 tilt column has been upgraded with cruise control and sits opposite a Scottish leather-upholstered Glide Seat. The new sound system resides under the seat and Vintage Air A/C is ducted beneath the dash so no holes had to be cut to accommodate the plumbing.