If various aspects of this ’55 Chevy truck seem familiar, well, it’s no coincidence. Over the past few months there have been a handful of stories on the pages of CCT on building Star Kustom Shop’s newest project, “Stardust.” As mentioned through the stories, Stardust is a throwback to the golden era of customizing, mixed with fresh ideas and a blend of modern-day tastes. But before we get too in depth about the truck, let’s go back to the beginning and see how this custom came to fruition.
It’s creeping up on two years since Justin Hartman, the owner of this ’55, first called the shop. After our initial conversation there were so many ideas floating around that an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians had more direction! Ten years before our encounter, Justin had an artist pen a rendering of the ’55 in what would best be described as a turn-of-the-millennium street truck. Not exactly my taste, and not what he was after anymore, either. But his initial rendering did have a few ideas that suited our likes: a molded tailgate, custom tonneau, frenched headlights, and everything shaved. From there I intertwined my thoughts with Justin’s styling cues and came up with a Star Kustom Shop original.
The build started at the rear of the truck, and the idea of molding in the tailgate stuck. Expanding upon that concept is the fact the gate was laid down to match the rear angle of the fender. Taking things a step further, I felt the bed lip should cascade down into the gate. After some planning it was apparent the easiest way to accomplish the new look would be to hack off the rearend and construct a hand-made, 20-gauge sheetmetal rearend—which was demonstrated in the first CCT article (“Freedom of Expression,” Oct. 2011). The angles and contour of the new rearend follow the dimensions of the factory fenders, but the rest of the ideas are unique to the ’55. For starters, a flowing custom license plate overrider was inserted, and at the bottom of the rearend the bumper was tossed for a custom roll pan fashioned in the vein of dual ’53 Studebaker pans. Nestled in each corner of the roll pan is a hand-made taillight encompassing ’59 Cadillac lens and bezel with a custom bullet. Bucking the normal trends of Cad lights, the assembled taillight was laid horizontally inside a congruently shaped cavity. From there the bed received a bedrail made from 21⁄2-inch exhaust tubing, which flows from step plate to step plate uninterrupted. Then the rest of the bed components were molded in. Justin’s original idea was to enclose the bed in a custom sheetmetal tonneau, but upholstery seemed better suited. Therefore, a two-piece tonneau cover was fabbed to mount flush with the bed, and then later covered in pearl white Naugahyde.
Instead of customizing for the sake of change, a flowing profile from front to rear was mandatory. For that reason the dual Studebaker pans crept into the picture when the front bumper was ousted. Inside the opening of the roll pan a custom insert was fabricated from a piece of 3-inch exhaust tubing. Continuing with the ’59 Cadillac theme clear lenses and bezels—that now functions as turn signals—perch at each end of the insert. We both wanted frenched headlights, but again true to ’50s fashion. We landed on ’53 Mercury rings and bezels with reworked inner headlight hoods, which we showed in depth on the pages of CCT (“Head Strong,” Apr. 2012). The rest of the frontend was shaved and molded, and a scratch-built 1-inch tubular grille in the vein of a ’47 Oldsmobile was placed inside the grille opening.