There were probably a few moments when he didn’t think he was going to have the truck finished in time for its first show. Gary Vinson told us that the most memorable experience he had during the six-month build-up of his Chevy pickup was seeing it finished the night before its first show.
Parts had been piling up for a ’71 GMC project that Gary was planning when his attention shifted. It happened the day his friend Larry told him about the ’72 Chevy Cheyenne Super owned by his neighbor. The GMC was “a little too far gone,” as Gary put it, and he had always liked ’72s. So he made the 30-mile trip from Gadsden, Alabama, to Oxford to see the Chevy and fell in love with it. The condition was fair, with a little rust in the bottom of of the doors, but it was a better starting point than the GMC (and would accept a lot of the parts he’d already collected), so Gary gave the owner $7,500 for the truck. “The guy’s wife wasn’t too happy when she got home and found out about it,” he remembers.
Gary worked on the Chevy and drove it for several years. After going through a divorce, he had to buy the truck from his ex-wife, again paying $7,500 to get it back. When the 350 engine dropped a valve, Gary says he “got a wild hair” and located a Chevy 402 that had powered a race car, ambitiously planting that between the fenders of the ’72. With Brodix heads and 11.5:1 compression, the big-block turned out to be a whole lot more motor than the truck needed. As luck would have it, the guy who originally built the engine wanted it back and was willing to trade a milder 383 to get it.
The 383, machined and assembled at Prater’s Auto Machine Shop in Fort Payne, Alabama, is well-suited for the pickup. The aluminum cylinder heads are from Holley, along with the intake and carb. The aluminum air cleaner sits way up on a riser atop the Holley Performance 770 Street Avenger carb, separated by a spacer plate from the street dominator intake manifold. A pair of Hooker Super Competition headers carry the exhaust to polished stainless exhaust pipes and mufflers. Zoops brackets and polished aluminum pulleys provide some shiny eye candy at the front of the engine.
Backing up the small-block is a column-shifted Chevy TH350 transmission with a B&M Holeshot converter. At the distant end of the driveshaft is a Chevy 12-bolt rearend.
The stock rear suspension was modified with 3-inch dropped springs.The front suspension is also stock with the exception of 2½-inch drop spindles—keeping things simple while improving the stance.
During the process of the build-up, Gary connected with Will Posey, Jimmy Posey, Jason Latham, Barry Alford, Gavin Graham, and Joseph Smith at Big Oak Garage in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. He credits everyone at the shop for taking the Chevy to the next level.
Barry and Gavin restored the exterior sheetmetal to new condition, keeping the stock headlights and taillights, bumpers, and door handles. New chrome on the grille and a Goodmark steel cowl induction hood improve the first impression when the truck’s coming up in your rearview mirror.