Sometimes, if you work it right, you can get paid to do something you’d gladly do for free! Folks who work at something they love are the luckiest ones of all. That’s about how it worked out for Sam Turner, owner of Sam’s Garage in Roebuck, South Carolina. Sam loves old cars and trucks, enjoying them for more than 40 years and restoring them since 1988. He got started in the business by working nights and weekends until he had a strong enough customer base to establish a full-time business in 2006. A one-stop shop, Sam’s Garage has become the perfect source for the owner of a project vehicle who might need just a little extra help with the engine, suspension, paint, or interior.

Sam brings considerable credentials to the table. He not only works on customers’ rides, but also builds his own. Over the years, he has owned almost a dozen vintage vehicles with the Chevrolet brand as a clear favorite. He smiles when he recalls his 1935 Master Deluxe, a Street Rod of the Year contender, naming that car and this truck as two of his all-time favorites. Found in Augusta, Georgia, back in 2007, this ’51 five-window was a four-year build, finished in March 2011.

Like almost all of Sam’s projects, it began with a complete body-off restoration, assisted by his good friends Bobby Wolack and Dale Vicars. After boxing the frame, the team treated the vintage chassis rails with POR-15 Chassis Coat—a rust preventive paint that adds a black satin finish. A 16-gallon fuel cell was one of the first additions, between the reinforced rear framerails. Next on the list was a Mustang II suspension with rack-and-pinion power steering, drop spindles, and 11-inch disc brakes to modernize the front.

Out back, a triangulated four-link holds the ’71 El Camino 12-bolt rear fitted with a Richmond Limited Slip and 3.73 gears. Since adjustable altitude was one of the more important items on his list, Sam added ShockWaves to all four corners, activated by a pair of VIAIR compressors, 3⁄8-inch lines, and two 7-gallon reserve tanks. Just in case traffic gets heavy, a three-trumpet set of air horns under the cab is powered by the same system. Coys rims got the vintage rig rolling, filling the wheelwells with 18s up front and 20s in the rear. Sumitomo HTRZ 30- and 40-series radials add style and traction.

Motive power was an easy choice with the 5.3L Z71 Chevy easily fit into the vintage engine room. The modern, fuel-injected V-8 is essentially stock except for ceramic-coated Street and Performance headers feeding Flowmaster mufflers. It sends an estimated 325 hp to the beefy 4L80E automatic trans. Engine room dress-up touches include smooth inner fenders and firewall along with a unique fiberglass engine cover, crafted from such diverse elements as a soccer ball, aluminum foil, cardboard, and fiberglass. Southern Rods provided the remote reservoir, polished alternator, and A/C compressor, mounted low and out of sight.