Inspiration can come from an infinite number of sources. Do you remember what it was that inspired you to build your first custom classic truck? Was it the pickup you drove as a young gun and now regret selling? Was it somebody else's cool old hauler that made you vow to build one just like it someday? Was it your dad's or granddad's old work truck-the one you taught yourself how to drive in? Was it an eye-catching show truck you saw at the fairgrounds or in the pages of some magazine?
For Mike Gurley, the inspiration for this burgundy '47 1/2-ton came from a few disparate sources. The year 1947 was not only the first of Chevrolet's successful Advance Design truck series, it was also the year Mike was born. The enduring popularity of these pickups combined with Mike's personal nostalgia were the reasons for building this particular truck. The inspiration for building this particular truck with this particular look is a bit less expected: a Porsche 911 Targa. If the 911 influence isn't obvious to you right now, keep reading. When we're done, maybe you'll see it.
Mike's been a gearhead since he was a teenager in the '60s, but he hadn't had a project vehicle in a long time when he started planning this one. Like many enthusiasts, he took his search to eBay, where this mostly stock truck was listed. It was an old Colorado farm truck that ended up in the Los Angeles area. The seller was a street rodder and this was going to be his next project, until he changed his mind. Mike flew out to see it and bought it on the spot.
When he got the Chevy home to Plano, Texas, he pulled his regular vehicles out of the four-car garage that would become his project shop for the next 4 years and got busy.
Getting the truck to sit and ride the way Mike wanted it to was accomplished with a new chassis from Total Cost Involved. The independent front suspension includes a pair of dropped spindles, bringing the front of the pickup 3 inches closer to the ground.
"Tearing apart the stock rear end to replace it was a chore," Mike told us. "There must have been 50 rivets in there-about the size of your finger. And I had to grind and drill and pound out all of them." The new rear suspension components include leaf springs and shocks. TCI also provided the power-assist GM disc brakes, mounted front and rear.
Powering the truck is a Chevy 350, but this is no simple small-block. Mike bought the engine from a hot rodder who works at the local Chevrolet dealership. It's been built up for high-performance and has made about 50 runs down the dragstrip.
Mike drag raced a 265-powered '51 Chevy sedan in C/Gas as a high school kid in the '60s, and had no problem dropping that kind of muscle into his truck. The block has been stroked to 383 cubic inches (by adding a 400 crankshaft), which boosts torque. The Speed Pro hypereutectic flat-top pistons make 10.3:1 compression in the Dart Iron Eagle heads, topped with a pair of GM Performance polished valve covers. A Crower roller cam operates the valvetrain components. The engine is fired by an MSD 6 Series ignition, and is fed by a 770-cfm Holley Street Avenger carburetor on an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold. A set of full-length headers directs the exhaust to Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Backing up the engine is a Turbo 700-R4 AOD transmission. The Currie rearend runs 3.89:1 gears and a Posi.