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.

Although the cab and fenders are original, there are lots of subtle body mods on the 60-year-old truck that include Hagan turn signals mounted below the Diamond Cut headlights, a show-chromed grille, and tucked-in front bumper. Door handles were shaved, a new one-piece hood added, and a one-piece windshield from Vintage Glass in Lawrenceville, Georgia, was installed along with single-pane side glass. The stock bed features custom latches, an oak bed floor, and a linear actuator that controls the Legens fuel filler concealment kit. The truck uses a custom roll pan with Hagan LED taillights and a cab-mounted third brake light. Once the body mods were complete, Dale Vicars finished off the outside, spraying the elegant DuPont Chromabase, Indigo Blue.

Lots of upgrades occurred inside as well, thanks to Billy Murdock from Brevard, North Carolina, who did the upholstery, beginning with the six-way 2001 Tahoe seats. After trimming the headrests below the rear window line, he covered the seats in tan leather with snake-skin inserts. The upholstered-to-match center console separates the plush seats and holds the air-conditioning switches. Controls for the air suspension were located in the glovebox.

Driving the truck is a great hands-on experience, thanks to the Lecarra wheel on a Flaming River column. The Dakota Digital instrument package adds to the experience, providing the driver with real time engine info. Rounding out the grand touring adventure, the Vintage Air A/C unit keeps driver and passenger cool while the Custom Autosound head unit on the dash entertains them with a high-quality stereo. It controls the single 10-inch Alpine sub behind the driver seat and the 400-watt Alpine amp behind the passenger seat. A pair of 6½-inch Alpine components set in the kick panels creates the mids and highs to fill the cab with sound.

Sam says the truck is a joy to drive and jumps at every opportunity to take it on the road. We photographed it at the Southeast Showdown in Anderson, South Carolina, where the Indigo Bowtie captured the Best Classic award. CCT

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