We know some guys who sell their truck and buy a different one with the frequency of an oil change. And we know some who hang onto their prized pickups for life. But the reality of long-term ownership is that eventually it will be time for some freshening up.
That was the case with this ’55 Chevy Apache, owned for the past 26 years by Patrick Jenkins of Hawthorne, California. Patrick’s first truck was the ’59 he drove as a high school student in the ’70s. He’s loved mid-’50s Chevy stepsides ever since. In 1985, he started looking around for another one. This second-series ’55 Big-Window turned up in the pages of Truck Trader magazine. It was copper orange and in beautiful shape.
Patrick drove the truck for three years. By then the 327 small-block was getting tired, so Patrick contacted his friend Ted Frye, an old engine builder and salt flats racer, who put together a newer, stouter 327, bored 0.030 over, and blueprinted with a forged steel crank and a Corvette six-quart oil pan with a windage tray.
With the engine out of the truck, Patrick decided to add a Plymouth Volare torsion bar suspension, and took the ’55 toTerry Berzenye at Specialized Auto Repair in Huntington Beach. The Volare clip included shocks, springs antisway bar, steering, and 11-inch disc brakes. Two-inch drop spindles from Fatman Fabrications add to the truck’s raring-to-go rake. That took car of the frontend; at the rear a Currie Ford 9-inch is stuffed with a set of 3.25:1 gears and a Posi, hanging on Total Cost Involved shocks and ’55-’59 leaf springs.
A 30-gallon custom gas tank was added in the rear and the stock steering column was replaced with a late-model Chevy tilt version. The rebuilt engine was backed up with a Turbo 400 transmission (replacing the stock three-on-the-tree) and a Currie Ford 9-inch Posi rearend.
Patrick drove the refreshed ’55 on sunny Southern California weekends until 1992, when his company transferred him to Portland, Oregon. He continued to drive the truck on far-less-frequent sunny Pac Northwest weekends, until parking it in his barn for a several-year hibernation.
The truck stayed in storage until 2004, when Patrick decided to treat it to a frame-off restoration. His friend Pete Nielsen helped him pull it apart, and the body panels were sent out to be media blasted. From there, it was sent to Creative Metalworks & Engineering in North Plains, Oregon, where Carl Morton performed all the needed metalwork. No major modifications were called for—just cosmetic improvements such as shaved panels, replaced cab corners, a rebuilt tailgate, and some filled firewall holes. Fresh paint was sprayed by Kevin Bischoff at Roger’s Auto Body in Vancouver, Washington. The color is Prowler Orange from PPG.
The Ted Frye-built 327 still had low mileage and was running strong. A Carter AFB four-barrel and Edelbrock Performer intake manage induction chores, with Sanderson headers and MagnaFlow mufflers to handle the exhaust. A Billet Specialities air cleaner and valve covers dress up the small-block. Patrick wanted overdrive, so the Turbo 400 transmission was replaced by a Phoenix Transmission Products 700-R4. Patrick’s choice for tires and wheels was a combination of 15-inch Vintec Series rims from Billet Specialties (replacing the Center Lines he added in the ’80s) and BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires.