Alright first things first, there's no doubt you guys were surprised to read Dakota Wentz's editorial in February's issue and learn he has moved on to a new pursuit in the automotive world. For those of you that didn't catch it, Cody has stepped into his grandfather's, Darryl Starbird, shoes and reopened the doors to the Star Kustom Shop in Afton, Oklahoma. It will be the first time the general public has been able to commission a vehicle customized by Star Kustom since 1965. I would have mentioned it in my February editorial, but since I like to write Zero Clearance first, and Cody liked to write Off The Wall last, the timing wasn't right. As a funny side note, Cody did tell me the reason he had a hard time making it to work before 10 a.m. was he couldn't stand to sit behind a desk, he prefers to work with his hands. The good news is Cody has cleared a spot in the bed of "Get Shorty" to hold his computer, and he will continue on as a freelance contributor for CCT as soon as he gets settled in. Cody can be reached at (918) 257-4234, or StarKustom@yahoo.com. As far as who is going to fill Cody's position as associate editor I wish I could say, but at this point we have to keep the wraps on it. I can reveal that if things turn out the way I hope they do it's a name that you all know and will be excited to hear.
Next up, on a list of the all-time worst handling pickups to ever roll off a factory assembly line, the '56 Ford F-100 has to be right at the top. It's a theory that I can't prove, but I have heard it said the Big-Window option introduced in '56 was to make it easier to see and steer an F-100 in a panic stop backward through a traffic signal that had just turned red. I know one thing for sure, and that's installing a windshield wiper on the passenger window of my '56 Ford would be a welcome addition, it's just about impossible to launch the old girl straight from the signal if there's any kind of rain on the road. That said, it doesn't mean there isn't hope for making a '56 F-100, or any pickup truck for that matter, handle good. One of the best handling (and underpowered) pickups I ever drove was Air Ride Technologies '56 F-100 on the track at Putnam Park just outside of Indianapolis. Putnam is a 1.8-mile, 10 turn road course that likes to cater to any group of automotive, or motorcycle enthusiasts that would like to hold a track day. I wasn't the only one that felt that way about the '56. I rode along with former NASCAR Busch Series driver Mike McLaughlin on a few orientation laps before I got my turn, and Mike really loved how the truck handled too. Making an old truck more nimble than stock really isn't rocket science, and the truth of the matter is one doesn't have to dump the big bucks into their truck for air-ride suspension to make it handle like it's on rails. It is a science to do it right though and uneducated guesses can be dangerous, but don't worry because low-buck to high-end suspension and brake upgrades will continue to be a technical subject we'll cover in future editions of Custom Classic Trucks.
Well it's almost time to wrap this issue's Zero Clearance up, but before I do, I'd like to describe the '73 Chevy Super Cheyenne we have in the works. First off, the design work and illustration was done by Jon Bell at www.hotrodartwork.com. Jeff Costa at Sonoma County Street Rodz and I explained what style we were after and Jon nailed the look we wanted right down to the Goodyear Blue Streak tires. All of the exterior body and trim parts to convert our subject C10, a plain Jane work truck into the Super Cheyenne depicted here can be found in the LMC Truck '73-87 Chevy catalog. This includes the super-trick C10 bumper with driving lights, and the retina burning halogen headlights. At this point we haven't locked in what it will be powered by, but there's no question the transmission will definitely be sourced from Gearstar Performance Transmissions. I decided this after scattering the four-bolt 350 in the Americruise Big 10 trying to break the Gearstar 4L60E and discovered the Gearstar tranny was bulletproof
In the tradition of the '79 Big 10 prepared for Rod & Custom's Americruise, the Super Duper Cheyenne will be tried by fire on the highway, and track as well. This coming May we are going to drive the Super Duper Cheyenne from Orange County, California all the way back to Atlanta and compete at the Year One Experience, and then return home. One of the things that's going to be new for 2009 at the Year One Experience will be the classic truck corral where the folks at Year One will be offering a special discount package for anyone that wants to participate with a classic truck (Ford, Chevy, Dodge, whatever) in the show or autocross. For more information and updates check out the events area on Year One's website.