I ran across Nick Weber’s beautiful 1946 Chevy one chilly afternoon at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. I was perusing the dragstrip’s car show that day, which was loaded up with your typical street rods, muscle cars, and weekend cruisers, when I came upon this gutsy two-toned truck. I was immediately blown away when my eyes focused in on Nick’s creation. The overall level of craftsmanship, let alone the execution of the game plan, barked out “big-money build” to me loud and clear. I just figured it was probably done by one of the large, high-end restoration shops that dot the surrounding area.
The amazing thing is that after talking to Nick, I found out that 95 percent of this radical street brawler was built by the owner himself! And if that wasn’t mind blowing enough, he tells me it was built in a tiny one-car garage at his family’s abode! Interestingly enough, he only sourced out the cushy interior work to a local upholstery shop. That tidbit of information totally blew what was left of my hot rod-infested cerebrum. I had to get the lowdown on this crafty big-block bruiser from the builder himself.
Nick got the inspiration to build his dream truck through one of his dad’s friends. This particular gentleman owned a restoration shop that for some time housed a similar year Chevy truck. Over time, the pickup was modified into a street rod-styled ride specifically for the shop owner himself. But unfortunately the build was never completed, but still, young Nick saw some hope in bringing the same brash Bowtie design to fruition. He just needed the time, the money, and the will to do it.
So in the spring of 2002, at the age of 16, Nick wheeled home a project ’46 he picked up out of an Auto Trader magazine. He quickly bore down and started to dismantle the truck to see what he had actually bought. He soon realized that the old Chevy had seen much better days. He removed the cab and one front fender from the pickup and put them aside. Regrettably, everything else was not worth saving, and the “mass of mess” ended up going to that big trash heap in the sky.
Even with the bad news, Nick quickly moved ahead. The first order of business was to design and fabricate the chassis. Nick built the custom chassis in-house from scratch, using 2x4 square tubing. A Mustang II front suspension was added up front, complete with RideTech Shockwaves. Out back, resides a four-link suspension, which also features the RideTech setup.
Next up, Nick had to forge the overall shape of the cab that he envisioned in his head. Guidance came in the form of a magazine article that he had read previously on the art of chopping tops. Next, a Sawzall was purchased for the incisions that would help sculpt the body into the desired silhouette.
He then took to the roofline, chopping 2 inches out of the original stock body. The roof was then pancaked and pie-cut above the doors and windows 1½ inches, tapering it down to zero toward the rear. The fact that these modifications came out looking dead-on perfect fueled Nick’s overall confidence that he could successfully navigate through his build. And luckily, he had some welding experience, which came in handy in tying it all back together.
With his newfound bravado, Nick decided on another modification, stretching the cab 3 inches behind the doors. This would give the cab a roomier feeling overall, though later he realized that another 6 inches would have helped. Next, Nick added the rollcage to the build, as his first thought was to go drag racing with the truck when it was completed. Even though that train of thought would change during the build, he kept the cage just in case the inkling ever arose again.
Out back, the rear fenders and roll pan were hand formed to Nick’s liking. Next, the two-piece center opening hood was modified into a one-piece, forward-opening unit. This brought a modern touch to the ’46. Nick built the oak bed floor from scratch, raising the entire bed to accommodate the radical rear suspension setup.