There are several ways to describe how the three trucks before you came to existence, but I believe Ringo said it best when he belted, "With a Little Help from My Friends." If it wasn't for friendship the three trucks in this sequence may have never seen the light of day. Chris Cowden, Joe Aragon, and Louis Kendziora are three buddies, from Houston, Texas, who have a thing for trucks and helping one another out. Each guy played a key role in building all three trucks. The three of them bounced around from garage to garage lending a hand in each one's build. In the end, the three trucks, each reflecting their owner's style and persona, emerged to hit the roads.
The first up is Chris Cowden's '53 F-100. Chris picked it up a few years back when he decided to get in on the action. It wasn't in the best of shape, but it was salvageable. One of the few aspects of the truck that didn't need replacing was the frame. Yet, the chassis engineering of yesteryear did. Chris and company began the project by boxing the framerails and adding some strength and rigidity. From there, the wheelbase was extended 11/2 inches, and the crossmember and adjoining suspension components from a '74 Mustang II were installed. Disc brakes from an'80 T-bird were also thrown in the mix up front. Out back, a new set of leaf springs with a 4:11 Ford 9-inch was installed. Keeping the '53 up right in the canyons is the addition of front and rear Total Cost Involved (TCI) sway bars. Chris kept a pretty sturdy agenda when it came to maintaining Ford components, for that reason he hunted down a 351 engine for the '53. With the help of Mark Ensel, the 351 was overhauled. Included in the rebuild is a set of TRW 10.5:1 pistons, World Products heads, and a Crane roller cam. Up top, the 351 received a Weiand Stealth intake manifold mated to a Barry Grant Demon 750 carburetor. Other speed parts include a K&N air cleaner, MSD ignition and BBK headers. The entire package cranks out a whopping 435 hp! Back that up with a Lyntech Ford AOD tranny with a custom valve body and 2400-stall speed, and this truck is just as potent on the street as it is the strip.
If you ask Chris if any bodywork was needed, his simple enthusiastic answer of, "Yes!" tells it all. In fact, there isn't much tin left from the original truck Chris purchased! But through the combination of the aftermarket suppliers, swap meets, and various other forms of peddling, Chris was able to assemble the '53. Cleaning up the lines a bit is the shaving of the cowl vent, filler neck, emblems and various other eye sores. Working in the trucking industry, Chris has come across some colors one doesn't find among the Big Three, for instance this Peterbuilt metallic olive green. Chris had stored this paint code in the back of his brain for years and when it came time to paint the Ford, he knew just the color despite what others thought. Accenting the green persona is the White Oak bed wood and Boyd Coddington Magneto rims, 17x8-inch in the front and 18x10-inch in the rear, wrapped in Nitto 555 with 245/45 up front and 295/75 in the rear.
Inside the cab of the '53 things were kept simple and sleek. For starters, the dash was shaved clean and a chrome dash insert with Stewart Warner Wings gauges was installed. Below the dash is an ididit steering column with a billet column drop and Billet Specialties steering wheel. The remaining areas of the cab were covered in either black carpet or leather, including the '01 F-250 bench seat. Five years after the first nut was turned, the '53, now dubbed "Greengo", is on the road.
The second truck in the saga of the three amigos is Louis Kendziora's '57 Chevy. A couple years back, Louis got word of a '57 rotting away in a field. Upon arriving to the field, all he saw was the Big-Window out back and he was sold. Louis' mentality of his eyes being bigger than his appetite came back to bite him though, as it turned out there was more rust and rot on the '57 than there was solid metal, literally. But, as Louis' friends keep reminding him Fin a condescending tone, at least it's Big-Window!
After the truck was blasted to bare metal, it was apparent a lot of work was in the future; therefore, Louis figured he'd go all out. The initial step in that direction was boxing the framerails. From there a complete arsenal of TCI products were ordered. Up front sits a Mustang II crossmember with two-inch drop spindles, and state-of-the-art Wilwood cross-drilled and slotted disc brakes. Allowing the stance to be dialed in are coilover shocks. Out back is a four-link mated to a Ford 9-inch with 3:73 gears. Again, the rearend is comprised of Wilwood brakes and coilovers. When it came to powering the Chevy, what says over the top better than 454 cubic inches of American muscle? Exactly! Taking things a step further is Scat stroker crankshaft, which brought the displacement to 496. Rounding out the package is an Edelbrock camshaft and 10.7:1 JE pistons stuffed under GM aluminum 502 heads. Allowing the rat to inhale as much as possible is an Edelbrock 2x4 intake manifold mated with Edelbrock carburetors. The complete package is a ground-pounding 520hp monster. Making the engine just as appeasing to the eyes are billet products from Billet Specialties and a set of Sanderson headers. The 700-R4 behind the 454 is no slouch either. The tranny is built with a B&M Hole Shot 3000-stall converter and Lokar shifter.
When Louis laid eyes on the truck for the first time, he never expected it to be a Big-Window. When it turned out to be one, he wasn't about to turn it down. As things unraveled, it was apparent some deals are too good to be true because every piece of sheetmetal had to either be patched or replaced. Louis didn't want to go wild with the truck, but he saw room for improvements. Body seams were welded up, emblems were shaved, and various other holes were filled. When one is trying to do less with more, in terms of paint, nothing shows better than a brilliant red. What Louis eventually landed on is PPG Inferno Red. Adding the perfect contrast of color to the red is a set of Billet Specialties Rail 17 inch rims. Out back is a set of meaty 275/60 Goodyear tires offsetting the smaller 225/60 tires up front. The Brother's one-piece window kit also gives the cab a new look.
Upon entering the door of the cab, one is surrounded by the lush Inferno Red complementing various billet ornamentation and high quality leather. Like Joe's truck, Louis went with a black leather and Ostrich look for the Wise Guy's seat. Planted along the freshly smoothed dash is a billet instrument cluster with Autometer gauges and an ididit steering column with a correlating black leather wrapped billet steering wheel. Creature comforts include a Vintage Air unit and a Secret Audio stereo system.
Last but not least is Joe Aragon's stunning '48 Chevy. Ten years ago Joe picked up the Advance Design Chevy and for years drove the truck around in primer and just had fun with it. But when the other guys were knee deep in their own builds, Joe realized primer just wasn't gonna cut it! Therefore, it was stripped down to the ground and work was begun.
When Joe bought the truck it was equipped with a Camaro front clip and a back-half from an S-10. Although the setup was adequate, Joe was looking to up the ante. The Camaro clip was ditched for a TCI Mustang II setup with 11-inch disc brakes, rack-and-pinion and two-inch drop spindles. The rear setup also went the way of Mercury and Oldsmobile-as in gone! In its place is a set of Chassis engineering springs mated to the S-10 rearend with Monroe shocks. TCI sway bars are planted at both the back and front of the chassis. Behind the S-10 rearend is a frame-mounted aluminum gas tank. The 350hp 350ci small-block nestled between the framerails found its way into the mix via a '70 Corvette. For more get up and go, a set of Vortec heads and a Crane camshaft were installed on the mouse motor. Allowing the 350 to inhale is an Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor coupled with an Edelbrock intake manifold, both plated in Endurashine. Providing more flash under the hood is a matching set of Billet Specialties ball-milled valve covers and air cleaner. Backing the motor is a Turbo 350 with a B&M converter and 2,500-stall speed coupled with a Lokar shifter.
Joe has been a lifelong hot rodder with a track record of heavily customized rides. His latest project is no different than the previous. The most radical transition the '48 was put through was the lowering of the lid. The top was chopped a total of 5 inches, which gave the truck a whole new persona. Instead of opting for stock lighting, Joe frenched in a set of Hagan headlights and rings in the front fenders. In the back, a set of '48 Chevy passenger car LED taillights is frenched into a custom roll pan. From there anything and everything that could be shaved from the exterior of the truck was wiped clean. Bringing the new look of the '48 to the eyes of even the most innocent bystander is the PPG Tangerine Orange paintjob laid down by Zamora's Paint and Body. Adding a modern, yet speedway feel to the truck is the American Racing Hopster 18-inch rims with tri-knock-offs. Nitto doughnuts, 235/50s and 295/45s, surround the billet rollers. Inside the bed lies a Mar-K oak bed floor.
Custom cars of yesteryear were seen as chic and classy (the opposite twin to the raucous and rebellious hot rods). Joe's '48 follows suit with the tail dragging customs of the past-all luxury. Mounted to the floor is a set of '89 Chevy truck bucket seats wrapped in black leather with black Ostrich skin inserts by Castillo Correll Auto Trim. Along the dash is the addition of new Dolphin gauges, an ididit steering column, and a Billet Specialties steering wheel. Keeping the cab at the desired temperature is a Vintage Air system. I think it's safe to say that the newfound orange hauler makes the cut!
With all three builds complete, each one being killer at that, one could say this group of friends gets by more than just "with a little help from my friends!"