The number nine figures prominently in the history of this '57 Chevy pickup named "Amen." Nine different shops worked on it. Construction lasted nine years. And when all was said and done, Amen rumbled out of Total Kaos Designs in Pasadena, Texas, dressed to the nines.

Nine shops in nine years foreshadows the chaos the Angelles--Cliff, his wife Jet, and their son Cruz--endured until they could drive Amen home from the Total Kaos Designs shop. Most who've struggled from start to finish on an automotive project can recite a long list of mishaps and broken promises along the way. Rather than dwell on the negatives, the Angelles feel blessed to have the patience and perseverance to see the project completed. They also thank the craftsmen who made good on their promises and contributed to this Chevy's cause.

In 1995, Keith Graves fabricated a new rear suspension for the Chevy chassis, with a Ford 9-inch and a triangulated four-link. Air Ride Technologies ShockWaves airbags gave the caboose a selective ride height. Classic Performance Products' cross-drilled disc brakes made the light truck's tail stop swiftly. Keith, Larry Hanagan, and Jimmy Pellergrin then boxed the chassis and replaced the stock frontend with a '77 Firebird front clip. The Firebird's spindles, disc brakes, and 1-inch antisway bar were also implemented. ShockWave airbags equipped the front, as did a '82 Chevy power rack-and-pinion steering system.

A custom-made 25-gallon stainless fuel tank was positioned under the bed floor right behind the cab's rear wall. Stainless steel lines plumbed both the braking and fuel systems. Once the chassis was finished, it was taken apart, smoothed, powdercoated, and reassembled.

Since the Chevy was initially going to be a Pro-Street pickup, a '74 Chevy 454ci engine was sourced. With Cary Comb ported and polished heads, Mahle 9.5:1 pistons, a Comp Cams camshaft, and an Edelbrock carburetion and induction, the Tim's Engines rebuilt big-block makes 409 horsepower on the dyno. A much-enhanced Chevy TH400 trans was built to handle the horses. Thanks to a Jim Brown 2,000-stall converter and Pure Choice trans cooler, the Harry Clack and Glen Restor rebuilt transmission was more than capable of controlling the torque.

Extensive exterior modifications were also executed to show-winning standards. Initially, Keith Graves filled all the body seams, welded the tailgate, cut and reshaped the four bed posts, and made the rear roll pan, to accommodate the custom, center-located stainless-steel exhaust tip. Floating the custom-made, chrome-plated wire mesh grille, pie-cutting the hood, and the one-off door handles were also Keith's handiwork. For the engine bay, he replaced the original inner fenders and firewall with new, smooth panels. The inner panels and custom-made radiator cover hide the truck's wires, belts, and hoses. Rick's Rod & Performance, of Lafayette, Louisiana, took over the task of panel fitment and fabrication. They sculpted LED taillights into the bedposts and removed the cab's driprails. Two PPG hues, Ultra Silver for the top and Silver Green for the bottom, were picked by Jet. Painter Lolly sprayed the topcoats, while the airbrush work came later.

The truck was delivered to Shawn Cook Upholstery, in Murphy, Texas. I.S.S. of Houston, Texas, provided the custom seat, which Shawn trimmed with buff-dyed Optimal leather. Ostrich skin was strategically added to complement the interior. Other details include Vintage Air HVAC, electric window lifts, a tilt steering wheel, and trick door handles. An Eclipse CD/stereo receiver mated with a Bazooka amp, crossover, and six separate Bazooka speakers provides quality sound.

Cassidy's Rod & Custom in New Caney, Texas, handled the flawless, fitting body panels. The truck's caretakers then hired Rodney Hutcherson of Total Kaos Designs in Pasadena, Texas, to perfect the exterior's painted surfaces. Rodney airbrushed the flames about the panels, emblazoned Amen on the front fenders, and added the artful museum-quality finish to the aluminum bed floor--which he had hand-crafted for the Angelles. While awaiting registration for the 2004 Goodguys Lone Star Nationals, final detailing for the Tri-Five truck occurred in the parking lot at the Texas Speedway. At the Lone Star Nats, the Truck of the Year Early- and Late-Model classification is awarded. Given the fact that the Angelle's '57 Chevy pickup was completed in the nick of time, winning a Top Five Late Model prize is mightily impressive. The Angelles sincerely thank all the craftsmen who helped create Amen and their sponsors, Optima Batteries, Royal Purple Lubricants, Meguiar's Car Care Products, and Bazooka Sound Systems, for assuring that their pickup would be "Dressed to the Nines" at all times.