The late-model 350 replaces the original 283. Aluminum valve covers and the Vintage Air br
When old trucks are your hobby it is easy to overlook the fact that vintage trucks were built to work, not play. Today that role is largely reversed with most vintage trucks seeing only weekend use and cargo often limited to a cooler and a pop-up canopy.
Because old trucks were workhorses they were built with utility in mind and that meant exposed rear fenders on either side of the bed. Long after the running board had disappeared from the cab, there was still a small running board on most stepside pickup trucks.
In 1955 Chevrolet realized there was a market for an upscale truck—a truck that could handle light-duty and look good doing it. That truck was the famed Cameo pickup, and it could be called the first commercial vehicle used as a status symbol, or in more common terms, welcome the “Country Cadillac.”
The Cameo had its shortcomings with fiberglass side panels, but it was clear that good-looking trucks were in big demand. And so, in 1958 Chevrolet introduced their first all-steel Fleetside pickup under the model name Apache. The new double-wall steel bed was highly stylized with a raised spear running the full length of the bed culminating in a simple round taillight at the rear. The Fleetside could be ordered as a base model or as a deluxe model with chrome trim accenting the new Fleetside spear. It was arguably better looking than the Cameo and much more capable when it came to carrying a load.
Like the rest of the truck, the wood bed is an example of perfection. The only deviation f
Today, finding an Apache with all the trim intact is no small feat, but for Lloyd Potter, finding this Apache was bittersweet. The truck originally belonged to his best friend Riley Kennedy. It was ordered in Tartan Turquoise and Bombay Ivory with all the body options available in 1959. This was the hot setup in 1959 and when Riley’s son Scott entered high school, the truck provided Scott with a cool school ride. After graduation the truck was stored inside for 22 years. Sadly in 2007 Riley Kennedy died and shortly thereafter Scotty sold the truck to Lloyd Potter knowing Lloyd would restore the truck to its former glory.
The truck was in good overall condition with just one piece of side trim missing. The truck was stripped to a bare frame so Wayne Stevens could install the Heidts front suspension and “C” the rear of the frame while moving the springs under the rearend housing.
Power for the Apache comes from a 350 Chevrolet small-block bored 0.40 over, and the new pistons connect to a steel crank. A mild cam, Weiand intake, and Hedman headers round out the engine mods. Blount Machine Shop handled the machine work and assembly. Shifts are handled by a 350 Turbo with a Lokar shifter.
Those big comfy bucket seats are out of a Buick LaCrosse, while painted door panels carry
The bodywork was handled by Lloyd’s son, Rick Potter, who prepared the fit and finish on the truck to perfection. While the truck was originally ordered in Tartan Turquoise and Bombay Ivory, the Potters thought the Indian Turquoise from 1957 had a better pigment, so the ’57 color now graces the Apache. Body modifications were limited to shaving the hood emblem and adding tri-bar headlights; everything else is vintage 1959 Apache.
Inside the cab J.R. Carnes and Lloyd Potter teamed up to install a set of leather bucket seats from a Buick LaCrosse and build a custom console that holds an Auto Meter clock and the Vintage Air A/C controller and vents. The cab floor was lined with Dynamat prior to installing the beige carpet. A tilt steering column is topped off with a Lecarra steering wheel while a Kenwood stereo provides tunes. The end result is a cabin that is equal parts comfort, function, and style.
And so the old Apache has come full circle, back to better-than-new condition and with the abundant car activity in eastern Tennessee this truck sees plenty of miles on weekends heading to shows. It is a fitting tribute to the good looks of the 1959 Chevrolet Apache and to Lloyd Potter’s late best friend Riley Kennedy.