Jim Simpson, from Ormond Beach, Florida, has always been an active automotive enthusiast. Over the years he's owned at least two dozen custom vehicles but now that he is retired, he was looking for a change from the hot rods usually found in the Simpson garage. As a kid, he owned a '56 Chevy and thought it might be a pleasant change to add a similar vintage Chevy truck to the list. Before long, he acquired a partially modified '56 pickup and drove it for a few years, accumulating lots of ideas for upgrading the vehicle while searching for the right builder.

As most enthusiasts know, you need to put almost as much effort into finding a good builder as you do in finding a good wife, as you'll be married to the truck for quite some time! Luckily, Jim met Doug Corl of Douglas Corl Auto Restorations in Bunnell, Florida. Corl has been in business for more than 27 years. He grew up on a farm and he began buying old cars that he fixed up for himself and for friends before getting into collision work and auto body repair; eventually opening up his own shop. Jim had a chance to examine some of the magazine-quality trucks that Doug created and knew he was the man for the job.

The customizing process began with a careful assessment of what they had and where they wanted to go. The '56 did not handle well in stock trim and improving upon that was one of Jim's primary goals. Some mechanical work had already been done but there were many other areas still needing work.

Although the truck was equipped with a 350 Chevy, Jim's heart was set on a big-block. Doug thought it was a great idea so a GM Performance Parts ZZ572 crate motor was one of the first purchases. Pumping out a whopping 620 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, the motor is equipped with an 850-cfm Quick Fuel carb, HEI ignition, Sanderson headers, and Borla mufflers with 3-inch pipes. The Zoops pulley system adds a bright touch while the Be Cool radiator and two 12-inch Perma-Cool fans keep temps in the green. Since driving a high-powered truck is a participatory sport, Jim added an M21 Muncie four-speed with floor shift to enhance the experience. A Gary's Drivelines driveshaft spins a 12-bolt Chevy Positraction rear fitted with 4.11 gears and shortened 32-spline Moser axles.

Since the big V-8 and the short rear gear provide tremendous initial acceleration, maintaining traction proved a challenge, but a Pro Street approach with fat rear tires was already part of the plan. Doug relocated the leaf springs inboard to clear the 20x15 Billet Specialties rims, ordered with a custom offset. Fat Mickey Thompson radials, 31x18R20, plant plenty of rubber on the asphalt. The frontend is equipped with a Heidts Mustang II suspension with 3-inch dropped spindles and Bilstein shocks. To create the big 'n' littles look, the front rims are 18x7 Billet Specialties wrapped in 225/60R18 Yokohamas. GM 11-inch disc brakes were added front and rear for enhanced stopping power and new stabilizer bars minimize body roll. Jim was thrilled with the changes, saying, "Now it rides like a Cadillac!"