Ninety miles north of Baker, California, home of the world’s largest thermometer, the Mad Greek diner, and the ruins of the now defunct Bun Boy burger stand lays the town of Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a sleepy little community with, no wait, that’s Las Vegas, New Mexico. Okay now we have our story straight. The ’51 Chevy pickup gracing this month’s cover belongs to Phil Madron of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and took Best Truck in Show honors at the 2010 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Along with a personal congratulation to Phil, props go to Thompson Street Custom Cope Design (TSCCD) of Denver, Colorado, for building a truck capable of winning such a prestigious award.
Originally from the Carlsbad area, the ’51 appeared to be in not too bad of shape when Phil shipped it to TSCCD’s 15,000 square-foot facility in Denver. Robert Thompson, Robert “Cope” Thompson Jr. and Don Sprague totally disassembled the pickup and soon decided the only body part that could be reused was the cab. Everything else had to be tossed with better or new examples having to be located. There was a ton of labor that had to go into the truck before it was ready for paint. According to Robert Sr., Don Sprague should receive a lot of the credit for bringing the A-D body back to life. The five-window cab got a 3-inch chop, and the door handles were shaved. Inside the cab, a ’55 Chevy Bel Air dashboard was custom fitted, and the cab corners were replaced. Behind the cab, the bedsides and fenders were brought back to flawless condition. Inside the bed a beautiful varnished wood floor was installed, and a custom smoothie tailgate from Mar-K was installed. Beneath the Mar-K gate, Don, and Robert Jr. fabricated a custom steel roll pan filled with two cat’s eye oval taillights. Once the bodywork came to an end it was time for paint. Don, and Robert Jr. buried the ’51 in a DuPont custom mix they appropriately named TSCCD Red.
For a chassis the stock framerails were abandoned in favor of a Roadster Shop complete chassis. In front, a Heidt’s independent suspension complements rack-and-pinion steering in charge of guiding 13-inch disc brakes by Wilwood. A Billet Specialties steering wheel sits on top of an ididit steering column. At the rear, braking chores are also entrusted to 13-inch Wilwoods, capping a 9-inch Ford posi rearend packed with 3.70:1 gears. Eibach springs and shocks handle the dampening duties. To keep it all rolling, a set of four 20- and 22-inch Deceptive wheels from Raceline are shod with Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires. Under the hood, power comes from a 502-inch big-block Chevy Ram Jet motor, cranking out one-horse per cubic inch. To handle such a beast TSCCD beefed a TH400 in-house and packed it with a B&M 2,500-stall converter. Hooker headers combined with Magnaflow mufflers handle the exhaust end of things. Custom valve covers from Street & Performance of Mena, Arkansas, add a touch of class.
A peek inside the windows sourced from All About Glass and installed by James Levy, reveals over-the-top comfort designed to titillate the senses. Sound comes from an Alpine system, fed 12-volt juice, from a Painless wiring harness. Air conditioned comfort from Vintage Air shoots the occupants from billet registers. To get an accurate idea how fast things are moving, and whether the 502 is running healthy, a ’55 Bel Air-style dash cluster is packed full of Dakota Digital gauges. Padding the butt from bumps, Lexus seats, along with the rest of the interior, is covered in tan leather stitched by Randy DiGesualdo. The finishing touch to the ’51’s innards is a custom-made console, airbrushed by Cope Design.
If you’d like to get good look at Phil’s ’51 in person, be sure to meet the TSCCD crew on the way to SEMA 2011 at the Mad Greek for a borscht milkshake, cabbage burritos, and a slice of rhubarb pie. CCT