Inspiration can grow over time and then be ignited in a moment. For Sammy Trout of Whittier, California, the moment came when he was on the way to work. He saw an old stepside, lowered and rolling on 20s, and immediately started thinking how cool his grandfather’s ’77 Chevy would look with a similar setup.
The truck had been a daily driver for Sammy’s grandfather since the day he bought it from the original owner until he passed away. He rebuilt it once—by necessity after it had been stolen, stripped, and recovered with a bunch of rusty and different color body panels piled into a completely different bed. The incentive that motivated him to put the truck back together and drive it for the rest of his life must have been passed on to Sammy. “I tried to do everything myself and with a couple of friends. I tried not to throw excess money at it, but redo what was there. My wife Lori encouraged the build and fed me dinner in the garage every night I worked on it.”
Cleaning up 30 years worth of wear and tear was the first job. Picture the pickup on jackstands, suspension components removed, and Sammy underneath it in motorcycle goggles and a beanie, grinding the rust off the stock framerails with a drill motor and wire wheel. When that glamorous chore was over, the frame was painted black with POR-15 to make sure the rust stays gone, and many of those components were replaced with parts collected on Craigslist to keep the budget down.
Sammy wanted the truck low. Belltech 3-inch lowering spindles and McGaughy’s 1-inch lowering coils in front and a DJM flip kit on the rear leafs lower the truck’s ride height. Doetsch shocks and Belltech antisway bars mounted at both ends improve the ride. Front disc bakes with CPP drilled and slotted rotors with new GM calipers, stock Chevy drums in back, and a CPP master cylinder stop the truck better than ever.
The bodywork started the same as the chassis work, by removing and repairing. Taking off the camper shell, bed interior, and storage cabinets revealed about 100 screws to be pulled and an equal number of holes to be welded. Every rust hole was replaced with good used sheetmetal. The front and rear fenders were scrapped, and a pair of N.O.S. front fenders and good-condition original rear were found on Craigslist to take their place. A replacement hood turned up at a local salvage yard. The driprails were shaved and smoothed and (except for the Chevy bowtie on the grille) exterior trim and badges were eliminated. The bed was stripped to bare metal, and spring-loaded tailgate pins were installed to take the place of the chains.
Sammy says his friend Richard “Roll Fast” Rojas stepped up to “keep me straight and on track when doing the bodywork, and gave me a much needed hand.” Josh Dawson did all the detailed welding and hole filling, and added the rear steel rollpan.
Body and bed were disassembled for painting to make sure the finished product looked as clean as possible. Sammy kept the paint design clean too, shooting the whole truck with Kalahari Beige basecoat from De Beer Refinish, covered with Diamont clear. The bed wood is hard maple, cut, routed, and fitted, then sealed with a couple coats of waterproof epoxy sealer and five coats of marine UV clear.
This whole build was inspired in part by 20-inch wheels and now the 20s on this Chevy may inspire someone else. These are style 338 model five-spokes from Boss Motorsports’ truck line. With 295/45R20 and 245/45R20 Toyo Proxes ST tires, the proportions are appropriate for the truck.
The Chevy is powered by the 250ci inline-six engine it’s always had. It runs great, so Sammy kept the underhood upgrades simple: a tune-up, an overhaul of the single GM Rochester carburetor, and some new fuel lines. He told us he’s thinking about some I-6 hop up parts in the near future. Flowmaster exhaust was bolted up and La Habra Radiator supplied a fresh radiator. The transmission had been converted to a floor-shifted three-speed, but now runs a Borg-Warner T5 with a homemade short-shift kit. A shortened and balanced driveshaft from Cannon Engineering ties the transmission to the stock rearend with 3.41:1 gears.
Even pro builders won’t tackle interior work, but Sammy learned custom auto upholstery during high school and has done professional upholstery. It had been a few years since his last interior, but we’d say he remembered pretty well. After reshaping the stock bench with new foam, he recovered them in cigar-toned leather. The molded headliner, kick panels, and sculpted door panels are also leather bound, with a little left over for the boot on the Hurst Indy pickup shifter, sunvisors, the trim on the Mercedes carpet, the Grant Formula GT steering wheel, and the handmade vent gaskets. The factory replacement dash was dyed to match. The original gauges were disassembled and restored, and a new retro-style radio was added, with an iPod and flashdrive hook-up inside the ashtray.
As the truck neared completion, Sammy started searching the Internet for local shows to attend. The Brothers Classic Chevy & GMC Truck Show was scheduled for the next day. The truck still needed wheels, a bumper, a radio, and a few other non-essential parts, but Sammy couldn’t wait. Even with the missing pieces, his ’77 Stepside won the First Place trophy for best interior in the 1973-1987 class. “My grandpa would have loved it!”