Imagine you saw this truck in a parking lot. If you weren't privy to the name Schwartz Performance, you'd probably think it was just another 1949 Chevy 3100 with some aesthetic changes, and walk away oblivious to its hidden assets. Now, what if you overheard the owner saying it has won numerous Goodguys autocross events? If you participated in autocross, you might be thinking, "Yeah right. Come race day I could go toe to toe with this guy and put a little wager on it to boot." But like many who were none the wiser, such as the driver of a 2012 Camaro who was defeated in an autocross event by this very same truck, you'd quickly realize pride doesn't win races...talent does.
Schwartz Performance has become one of the premier names in the automotive industry. Owner Jeff Schwartz's background as a former professional road racer and his passion for cars has given him the chops to not only know what makes a car perform well, but how to improve it. His search for an early Advance Design was inspired by the fact that his grandfather owned a 1949 3600. Jeff found this truck through a friend. It already had a fresh paintjob, had been modified with an IFS, and was the perfect platform for Jeff's intentions to use it as a fast daily driver.
An interesting twist of fate enabled Jeff to use the chassis he already had in development for this series of trucks. A German buyer called him to purchase one of his chassis for a truck of the same vintage, but he later found that German law prohibited the use of aftermarket chassis on vintage vehicles. This enabled Jeff to sell the modified stock chassis the truck was sitting on at the time to the German buyer and further refine his own version to get the steering geometry and fitment closer to the suspension design of his G-Machine chassis for muscle cars. The truck was now quickly becoming something of a wolf in sheep's clothing.
The chassis itself has longer shocks, allowing more travel at ride height, making for a nice smooth ride. The 6-inch rails, softer spring rates, and splined, racing-style sway bars with Heim joint endlinks help control the lean. Bumper and running board mounts are all on the chassis, so the application is strictly a bolt-on job. On this particular version, front six-piston and rear four-piston 13-inch Wilwood brakes keep stopping duties under control. In the aft you'll find a Moser full-floating 9-inch rearend and a Detroit Truetrac (geared at 3.70 on this truck) with a triangulated four-link with spherical bearings. The full-floater design is used to keep the bearing retainers from pressing off the axle at high g-forces, which could lead to rearend play and brake failure. What it all equates to is state-of-the-art technology for the street or track in a reasonably priced package.
The truck also sports double-adjustable Viking coilovers, AGR rack-and-pinion steering, and sits on a quartet of XXR 18x9.5 wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber. Jeff pulled a 2009 4.8 LS out of a Chevy Savana and gave it a facelift with Holley valve covers, Hooker headers, an Afco radiator, and a Spectre air cleaner with an intake cover custom made by Schwartz Performance. The exhaust is routed to a 2.5-inch system, also done by Schwartz Performance, and Pypes mufflers. The powerplant is backed by a 4L65E trans.
If you peek inside the cab, nothing there would alarm you to the power lurking within the 1949's guts. Dakota analog instruments, a Flaming River column, Lecarra steering wheel, and Vintage Air are about all that's out of the ordinary on the suede dash. The stock seat redone in black leather also looks pretty unassuming, although Schwartz Performance made a new seatback, inclined it back about 10 degrees, and dished it out to provide some lateral support while cornering. Jeff kept it pretty true to stock to retain some of the original flavor and remind him of those formative days riding in grandpa's truck.
These days, Jeff is racking up quite a few autocross wins with this nimble pickup all over the country. Like many a competitor who thought they could outperform Jeff's truck, they may leave the event trying to forget their humbling loss, but remembering that Schwartz Performance was the name behind this deceptively subtle Chevy. Keep your eye out for this truck on the track. However, we encourage you to keep your checkbook at home if you think you've got the juice to bet on defeating it when the checkered flag gets waved.