Dwayne Lawrence's history in all things four wheeled dates back when he was just a youngster, helping his cousin, Tommy Lawrence detail his '67 Mustang Fastback before a weekend of cruising. That innocent enough activity sparked a flame that turned an interest into an obsession; one that's still burning deep within Dwayne. A few years later, at 16 years old, he bought a '60 Chevy Impala-his first of many hot rods-followed by a '61 Cadillac. A short time thereafter, Tommy offered up the old Mustang and soon enough the two old friends were reunited. Working part-time at John Turner's Body Shop, Dwayne received the experience and money to completely restore the Mustang in his first complete restoration attempt. More than 25 classic cars and trucks later, Dwayne's just as excited to tear into his next restoration project as he was when he was a youngster helping his cousin polish his ride.
And speaking of rides, Dwayne's latest completed project is the most recent in a long line (six in fact) of five-window Chevy pickups. As he puts it, he has a passion for the Advanced Design years and enjoys the unique challenges it takes to build the same truck in different styles and schemes.
Like so many of these stories begin, Dwayne was perusing eBay one day when he found the '48 for sale in Sutherlin, Oregon. Once Dwayne won the auction, he was faced with how to get the truck from the Pacific Northwest to his home in Paris, Kentucky. A car transporter was hired for the job, but record snowfall in December 2008 caused the truck to be delayed until early February, where it arrived just in time for Dwayne to put a game plan together before being laid up for three months due to knee surgery.
Not one to let a little doctor's orders keep him down, Dwayne continued to work on the truck the best he could, hobbling around on his crutches while the initial sheetmetal work begun. Cab corners and outer cowl panels need to be replaced to get the cab in order while the bed was equally rough. Meanwhile, Dwayne called on a couple of street rodding buddies, Robert Sloan and Tony Haggard, in Lexington, Kentucky, to set up the chassis. The duo boxed the stock rails using 1/4-inch plate before they installed a Fat Man Fabrications Ultra Low IF setup with two-inch dropped spindles and 11-inch disc brakes from Right Stuff. Ride Tech airbags soak up the bumps, complemented by Monroe shocks. Out back, they yanked the rearend out of a '68 Chevy Nova and installed matching 11-inch disc brakes to the housing before sliding it under the truck, slung by a four-link airbag setup. The low stance did necessitate a 7-inch C-notch out back while the axle was relocated an inch to better center the wheels in the wheelwells. Wheel Vintiques 16x7-inch steelies shod in Diamand Back wide whitewall radials round out the rolling duties.
When it came time to providing the go, Dwayne opted to have Steve Davis at Davis Machine refresh a .030-over '78 Chevy small-block with flat-top 10:1 pistons, Vortec heads, an Edelbrock intake topped with a Holley Street Avenger carb, Powermaster alternator, and RPC valve covers. The healthy mill breathes through a custom exhaust by Joey's Mufflers, in Stanton, Kentucky, and directs its power through a TH-350 trans assembled by Cottons Transmission.
With the mechanical side of things sorted, Dwayne turned his attention to making the old hauler look good. Abetted by Jason Hinmant at Paint Solutions, the old truck was transformed by shaving the driprails, door handles, and cowl vent before receiving its Cactus Green base coat. Jason then laid out the flame job before laying down the Aberdeen Green offset scheme. A Wimbledon White outline finished up the job and made the flames pop. The bed wood was in decent condition to reuse, so Dwayne hired his sister, Angela Crispin, to hand-sand and refinish each oak board. A Brother's Truck roll pan rounded off the back end, finished by a pair of Billet Specialties taillights.
Once the paint was nice and dry, the truck was rolled over to Hudson's Rod and Custom in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee where Will Hudson stitched up the custom Bone leather. Dwayne borrowed a split bench seat from a '99 Buick Century and had Will give it the ol' tuck 'n' roll treatment to match the custom door panels. The stock dash was cleaned up nicely with a pair of Classic Instruments gauges mounted above the ididit steering column topped with a Billet Specialties wheel. Covered in Bone White paint and fabric, the cab of Dwayne's truck is finished as nicely as it is on the outside.
Dwayne's intitial outing in the Chevy once it was finished a short 14 months later was with his club, the Bourbon Street Cruisers, at their premier cruise night in May of 2010. All that hard work was starting to pay off, and Dwayne was surprised at the attention it had received as the guys had been hearing about the project for a year or so. Just like every project Dwayne's ever undertaken, the learning curve and pride that comes with breathing new life into an old truck never seems to get old. Amen to that!