Once the fabrication mock-up stage was finished, the entire truck was torn down for paint. In his one-bay garage, Nick laid down BASF paint in GM Spice Red, with black over the top. He then wet-sanded and buffed the paint to its brilliant shine. Nick then sprayed the oak bed with no less than 30 coats of automotive clear, and rubbed them out to perfection.
After the body was complete, Nick put his attention to the driveline. He’d bought a 540 big-block to put in the truck, but over time he had got impatient with the speed of the build, so he dumped it into his ’69 Chevelle to see what it could do. And what it could do was boil the back skins of the Chevy A-body. So to replace the 540, he picked up a 502 that sported a potent set of heads and over-the-top valvetrain. The engine would eventually go into the Chevelle, once the truck was completed and ready for the 540.
However, just before the re-transplant, Nick was out one night doing some nasty burnouts with the Chevelle and accidently ran it over 7,000 rpm’s, breaking the snout off the crank. It wasn’t pretty. Only the block and rods survived the decimation of the 540. So now the 502 was going into the Chevelle, and the 540 would be built back up for the truck.
Nick really wanted to do something different motor-wise for the ’46, as it was apparent to him that a basic motor would look odd in the radical, chopped ride. He started searching around eBay for interesting big-block Chevy parts. One night he ran across an auction for “32-valve Chevy big-block heads.” This interested Nick in a big way, as he never knew these pieces existed. Luckily the price was right and they were only an hour away from his hometown. A couple of days later, the heads were in his garage.
Nick started with a Merlin III 540 block. A Callies stroke crank is hooked up to a set of custom JE pistons for 32-valve heads, which sport 11:1 compression. A Bullet cam 4-and-7 swap, with .600 lift, .270 intake, and .280 exhaust duration, run the valves to perfection.
The heads found on eBay are from Valley Head Service and are the Thunder Power series. Nick himself made the custom sheetmetal tunnel-ram intake, which always draws a crowd. On top sit a pair of 800-cfm Holley carbs. Custom stainless headers lead the spent gasses into a 4-inch exhaust with Borla mufflers. A 4L80E automatic trans with a standalone computer gets the gears shifted properly.
However, with those big heads, Nick soon found that the engine would not fit between the roll bars in the engine bay. And since the truck was already painted and buffed out, it was a big issue. Unfortunately, Nick had to get the old Sawzall out again, cutting the bars and moving them each 1 inch to the outside to clear the big motor. The firewall then had to be repaired and re-sprayed, along with the front frame.
Once the motor motivation was complete, Nick keyed in on the running gear. He built up a heavy-duty Ford 9-inch rear with 3.90 gears to get the power to the pavement. For stopping power, 14-inch, six-piston-caliper Wilwood brakes up front, and 12-inch four-piston calipers out back do the dirty work. Wheels are Billet Specialties Draft, 19x8 up front, 20x16 out back, and are shod in Nitto rubber: 245/30/19 and 29x18.5x20 respectively, which sport shaved sidewalls.
The interior is graced by custom Corbeau seats, decked out in leather and suede, which is a theme continued throughout the upholstery. Nick built a custom dash to bring a modern touch to the vintage Chevy. A 10-point rollcage encases all this luxury. Another cool feature (besides the hidden taillights) is the fact that Nick kept the original crank-out windshield, but changed it over to an electric-driven unit … pretty trick!
Nick knows all his hard work was well worth it. It’s been done two years now and it gets run quite regularly out on the streets of Central Jersey and Pennsylvania. And he’s not afraid to take it on long runs, as he’s done many of the big shows along the Eastern Seaboard with regularity.
It was a huge amount of work for one guy to handle, and many doubted that he would ever finish. But after nearly a decade of build time, Nick states that it was well worth the time, money, and effort. The “Bowtie Beast from the Backyard” is a truck that shows what you can do with a good game plan, and the will to see it through.