Having a fascination with all things mechanical, it makes perfect sense that Scott Dungan would be drawn to classic trucks. A civil engineer by trade, Scott's history with classic trucks resulted in a friendship with local builder Bob Nankervis. Over the years, Scott became familiar with Bob's truck, a 1953 Chevy ½-ton Deluxe Cab pickup that had been handed down two generations from Bob's grandfather, who bought the truck new. Scott was impressed with the way the old ranch truck handled, something that Bob had a direct hand in.
Bob had changed out the old straight axle suspension design for a more modern IFS setup using the crossmember and components from a 1978 Chevy pickup. "I always admired how much the independent suspension improved the ride and handling." Scott explains, "I expressed interest in owning it, but I never thought it would happen as Bob shared with me that he was very close to his grandfather and probably wouldn't part with the truck."
A few years later, armed with his fabrication skills and knowledge of all things GM, Bob decided to open up a custom chassis shop called Bow-Tie Engineering. Knowing Scott's interest in his old Chevy, Bob offered Scott the opportunity to purchase the truck. Through his business, Bob determined that the 1978-88 GM G-body cars were very close in weight and wheelbase to the 1947-54 Chevy trucks and that the installation of their components as a whole would vastly improve the handling and ride quality of the vintage trucks. Using Scott's new pickup as the guinea pig, Bob developed his first prototype custom chassis using 2x3-inch rectangular tube steel welded together with brackets to accept the stock G-body suspension components. This gave Scott's truck a coil spring IFS with power steering, power disc brakes, and triangulated four-link rearend slung on coil springs to replace the stiff parallel leafs out back. The result is a vintage truck that rides and drives like a more modern automobile.
Scott drove the truck for 20 years in this guise before it was decided it was time for a lengthy overhaul.
"I have had a lot of time to view it from different angles," Scott tells us, "and decide what I like and what I would change. Over time, I developed a vision of smoothing out the hard edges and modifying or reshaping panels to fill in awkward holes or spaces, without changing the classic character of the original truck."
It was while flipping through a magazine that finally sealed the deal for Scott and his Chevy.
"I read an article on a feature car that had been built by Zane Cullen and his talented team at Cotati Speed Shop and they were located close to my home. So, I made an appointment with Zane and brought my truck over to see if he was interested in my project." Scott recalls, "We discussed my vision for the finished product and the more I talked to him, the more comfortable I became that he could make my vision a reality. We discussed bringing the truck into the modern era with fuel-injected power and an overdrive transmission to make it live on the freeway. So, I turned over the truck, the keys, and my vision statement to Zane and we began the journey to what you see here."
What the guys at Cotati Speed Shop ended up doing with Scott's truck involved a total frame-off restoration. While retaining Bob's original custom chassis, the crew modified the engine and transmission mounts to swap out the 350/400 combo with a modern, fuel-injected LS2 built by Jim Foley. Jim disassembled a good, low mileage motor, checked the clearance, and reassembled it to GM specs using ARP hardware. He also worked over a stock GM 4L65 transmission to back the LS2, mated to the Buick Grand National rearend.
Zane's crew extended the running boards forward to the front fender. They massaged every panel to make them perfectly smooth. They went to great effort to get the gaps just right. When the bodywork was complete, the truck was rolled into the paint booth where it received a liberal dousing of Spies-Hecker Bordeaux Reserve Metallic. For all intents and purposes, the majority of the body remained stock, save for the front bumper, which was lifted and pushed in closer to the body. The rear bumper, which was swapped out for one from a 1954, was flipped upside down, lifted, and tucked in closer to the tailgate. Custom taillights from Greening Auto Company mount off the lower corners of the pickup box by Hank's Custom Stepside Beds, highlighted by the planks of red oak inside.
Inside the cab, Scott wanted the truck to retain the same level of detail as the exterior. Minaglia's Auto Upholstery wrapped the 1996 Chevy Silverado bench seat in a combination of Chatham and Jaguar leather, along with the headliner, door, and kick panels, while Palomino Wilton Wool covers the floor. A 1940s-era Lincoln steering wheel from Quality Restorations sits atop an ididit steering column, flanked by the Classic Instruments speedo and combo gauges. Somehow, a Vintage Air A/C system is carefully hidden among the slightly modified stock dash. All the brightwork was first polished to perfection before being dipped in chrome by Sherm's Plating.
"Over the four-year build, Zane and his team of artists would suggest different ideas and more often than not, it was a better idea than my original concept." Scott explains, "Overall, it was a great collaboration and the results far exceeded my lofty expectations! It truly is the journey and not the destination—the decisions along the way made for an amazing re-styling."
"I have had a lot of time to view it from different angles and decide what I like and what I would change... without changing the classic character of the original truck."