Harry Froese’s history with his ’58 GMC goes back to 2002 where he found it behind a barn on his uncle’s farm in Chilliwack, British Columbia. It had previously been owned by two other relatives, so it had been in the family since 1973. It was moved to their poultry farm in Abbotsford before the dismantling began.
After a complete strip down, the front end was removed and a 2-inch lowered Mustang II clip from Total Cost Involved was installed. The original six-cylinder had been left with water in the block, so it was cracked and needed replacement. They found a 283 and had local GM guru Walter Letkeman overhaul it. He bored the cylinders 0.030 over and installed an RV cam and four-barrel Quadrajet carb.
The original three-on-the-tree was removed and a four-on-the-floor Saginaw was bolted to the back of the 283. A power master cylinder was installed under the driver-side floorboard to replace the original fruitjar. At this point, the chassis was detailed and it was time to start the paint and bodywork. Lacking experience in this field, Harry began looking for some help. It was at this stage that the truck then sat for a few years.
“In the spring of 2008, I found a retired (but not so old) gentleman in Chilliwack, Herman Reimer, who had done cars for himself since he was 16. He showed me some pictures of his work, and I was convinced I had found my body and everything else guru. He told me in no uncertain terms that he worked on his schedule, and only his; throw the calendar away. He could start in October.
Finally on April 15, 2009, we moved the rolling frame and all parts to Herman’s garage behind his house. I told him we wanted nothing fancy, just a daily driver. First thing he did was scrap all four fenders and ordered new ones from Brothers Trucks. The bed floor was missing, so he welded one in from a ’97 Chevy; we had BK Welding fabricate an aluminum tonneau cover with tailgate attached, so didn’t need a fancy wood floor. BK Welding also fabricated the custom aluminum fuel tank installed under the box. Now Herman started his meticulous bodywork. All seams inside and outside were welded and filled. All gaps had to fit his sophisticated gapping tool (a Benjamin Moore paint stirring stick) precisely. A ’96 Caddy donated the rear lights, which meant the rear box posts had to be totally reformed to match the light’s curvature and structural upper rib of the tonneau cover. Herman replaced the bottom of the doors, installed latches and handles from a ’98 Dodge Intrepid, which allowed us to install an Autoloc Keyless entry system. The curvature of the Chrysler handles matched perfectly with the curve on the GMC. A third brake light was hidden in the chrome trim above the rear window. When we were happy, it was all disassembled. At this point, we threw out the budget. Herman told me I was keeping him awake at night with all my ideas.
Ready for paint, it was time to decide what color to shoot the Jimmy. I wanted yellow, while my sons Dustin and Derek wanted blue and orange respectively, so we painted it Viper Red. Herman tried something he had never tried before; he started adding the clearcoat to the last few coats of Viper Red, increasing with each coat. It turned out fabulous.
With the paintwork complete, it was time for final assembly. A new front bumper from Brothers along with the rechromed original grill was tucked in as tight to the body as possible while out back, the original rear was swapped out for a unit out of an ’86 Caprice. The orange 283 was also removed and painted to match the truck before receiving a dual exhaust system with Flowmasters. New power one-piece windows and an aluminum radiator from Brothers were installed, as was an interior hood latch release from a ’92 Dodge Caravan. Keep It Clean supplied the wiring kit; the fuse box being tucked up under the dash on the driver side.
The middle of the dash was split horizontally, then lowered by 1½ inches to fit the Clarion DVD GPS Audio Deck before being fitted with Classic Instruments gauges. Watson Street Works supplied LED license plate, indicator lights and cup holders while Flaming River supplied the steering column topped with an original GMC steering wheel.
Next, the truck went to Dave Martin’s Upholstery in Surrey. Dave took the seats from an S-10 and widened them by 3 inches each. They now fit the ’58’s width perfectly. Seats, door panels, headliner, and speaker boxes were wrapped in two-tone ultra leather while the floor was carpeted and door step edges were Velcroed to provide access to the battery and master cylinder. Dustin, an architecture student at North Dakota State, designed the embroidered seat logo to look like a Canadian flag. Derek chose the sound system: one 12-inch bass, four 6-inch speakers, and two tweeters powered by two Alpine amps. Dave also installed and wired the complete sound system.
The truck now went back to Herman’s in Chilliwack. The 17-inch Anson Sprint wheels had arrived, and he painted inside the openings Viper Red to match the truck. Rear 8-inch wheels were mounted with 255/60 Michelins, and front 7-inch wheels with 225/65 Michelins with 1½-inch spacers.
We finally finished our daily driver in April of 2010. We had to vacate Herman’s garage because he sold his place. Turns out he bought an acreage and wanted a new shop. Being in construction, I was nominated to build it. Herman said it was my turn to lay awake at night while he demanded unconventional things. His shop got finished as well, and as a matter of fact, we’ve become good friends.” CCT
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