Without a doubt, one of the true mysteries of the gearhead world is whether or not those shows on TV about building a car, truck, or motorcycle in record time are really true. We can't speak for them all, but we were able to follow along as the crew at Classic Industries completed their '53 Chevy shop truck for Chop Cut Rebuild in 6 months real time and were able to witness firsthand that it really can be done.
In the early stages when Classic Industries' Mark Vogt contacted us and announced they were going to take CI's existing clapped-out '53 Chevy shop truck and rebuild it with parts out of their catalog from the ground up in such a short period of time we had our doubts. At Mark's invitation we drove down to Huntington Beach, California, and checked out the subject vehicle in question. Our suspicions were confirmed that unless a series of radical shortcuts were devised the '53 project was destined to run into overtime. Before we were able to voice our thoughts Mark beat us to the punch and declared the CI crew had planned on streamlining the build process to bring it all in on time. Reinforcing the premise of this month's rolling chassis guide, not having to contend with setting up the frame from scratch can potentially shave years off the build of any classic truck. There was a buzz on the grapevine that Total Cost Involved was only a few days away from releasing their entry into the '47-53 Chevy truck rolling chassis market. Mark called Total Cost Involved and shortly thereafter the CI crew took possession of the first complete chassis to roll off the line. Although the Total Cost Involved '47-53 chassis is produced in lots of five, and are considered a mass-produced frame with sequential stamped serial numbers, custom options are readily available.
For suspension, the CI '53's stance was set utilizing Total Cost Involved coilovers for a static drop. Moving forward from under the Mar-K hardwood bed floor lies a Moser 12 rearend packed with 4.11:1 gears and tamed with a B&M 700-R4 with a 3,000-rpm stall speed. Thanks to the automatic overdrive feature common to all 700-R4 transmissions the ZZ 383 GM Performance Products short-block topped with an Edelbrock Performance Package, installed by Mark Vogt and Toni Foti, runs in top gear at lower revs. After the Edelbrock 850 Thunder series carburetor has drawn gas from the 12-gallon polished aluminum Mooneyes tank mounted topside behind the cab, and the MSD ignition has completed combustion, Doug's headers exit exhaust gases through a pair of stainless steel mufflers manufactured in California by MagnaFlow.
Putting the roll in rolling chassis the four wheels on the CI '53 are American Racing Salt Flats shod with Toyo tires. Bringing things to a halt is handled by a quartet of SSBC Force 10 disc brakes with a remote reservoir. To help suppress all of the noise and heat generated by the powertrain the bed walls were cold sprayed with Al's Liner and the cab interior was fitted with Hushmat sound deadener panels. Speaking of the cab, it's a brand new five-window steel reproduction straight from the pages of Classic Industries catalog. After estimating all of the hours and expense involved to restore the cab on CI's existing truck, opting for new was the sure way to guarantee the CI crew would meet their 6-month deadline. Before the guys knew it, the only piece of original sheetmetal used on the Chop Cut Rebuild '53 project was an original hood plucked from a derelict tow truck, and even that could have been sourced from CI's catalog. Adhering to Jamie Seymour's concept illustration of the '53 as a mild custom, Edgar Soler frenched a pair of Delta Tech headlights and then hung a Briz bumper from Chevs of the 40s below the '53's full-chrome grille. The customizing didn't stop at the grille; directly behind, Edgar fitted a much cleaner core support and welded in a shaved firewall, both sourced from Bitchin' Products.
Inside the cab, the interior features Scat seats custom upholstered by Distinctive Industries, pedals from Lokar, and a tilt-steering column with column shift from ididit. Creature comforts are thanks to Vintage Air (heat only), Auto Meter gauges, and a raging sound system from Sony.
During the build's 6-month span the guys and gals of WAZ Productions showed up several times a week and rolled footage for Chop Cut Rebuild. Far from being a Tim the Toolman stereotype, host Dan Wood pitched in and proved to be a nice guy on and off camera. In exactly the correct method used in the real world, the CI '53 was completely assembled, mocked-up, and dialed-in before its custom paintjob was applied. After mock-up the truck was stripped of all body parts including the cab and put into primer. The light bodywork was handled and then a series of guide-coating and blocking out took place. Once the bodywork was dead straight it was time to two-tone the CI '53 using House of Kolor Orion Silver, Raspberry Red Pearl, and then bury it in HOK clear urethane. To accent the HOK colors, pinstripper extraordinaire Jeff Styles pulled his magic. The finishing touch occurred when Tom Horvath from System One showed up with his crew and handled the color sand and rub-out chores, and not leaving until the '53 was ready for its debut at the Pismo Classic Car show.
Chop Cut Rebuild's new season is airing as this issue hits the stands, so the combined efforts of Classic Industries' Mark Vogt, Tony Colombini, Edgar Soler, Jason Poling, Christian Carrillo, Keith Pittman, Freddie Ruiz, Byron Stewart, Ed Stevens, Bret Dethlefsen, and cover girl Regina Rowlett's husband Lance (not a Classic Industries employee) can be seen in living color doing their thing on the Speed Channel; and take it from CCT, they really did it.