Maintaining your truck's good looks is kind of like proper dental hygiene. You can brush your teeth every day of your life for 30 years and lose them one night in a bar fight. The same thing can happen to an old truck. After surviving for many years without missing a tooth, a classic truck's grille can be knocked out in one instance of bad luck.
Fortunately, thanks to the good folks at Classic Industries in Huntington Beach, California, repairing the damage on classic Chevrolet trucks is a lot less expensive than a trip to the dentist, and way more fun. In the case of the '74 Chevy Stepside pictured here, our goal was to mildly customize a stock vehicle's ordinary looks. To restore a stocker, all you have to do is follow the numbers. A '57 Chevy hood and grille have to be located in order to properly restore a '57 Chevrolet truck. Trust us, if you rolled up with a '56 grille and '58 hubcaps on a '57 Chevy in front of a bunch of restored truck freaks, it would only be moments before the truck was swarming with goofballs. They'd be quoting from the book of restored stock trucks as they pointed out the glaring inaccuracies.
That's the fun of customizing. It takes more imagination to modify an old truck than it does to restore one. What's key is selecting the right modifications, which can make or break the end results. A good example of what we are talking about is not all that hard to find. Contrary to what one might imagine, some of the grossest things we have ever seen done to an old truck were spotted right here on the streets of Southern California. One of our favorites was a fledgling George Barris impersonator who stuck a cowl-mount GTO tachometer alongside a Dodge Ramcharger hood scoop, smack in the middle of a '55 GMC's flattop hood. The custom wannabe Barris hood he created looked like he raided Home Depot's chain link fencing aisle with a big magnet.
In addition to styling decisions, one has to evaluate whether or not the desired look can be achieved utilizing available parts without a ton of custom fabricating. Of course, as evidenced by some of the more radical examples gracing Custom Classic Trucks' pages, there isn't too much that can't be done if a person has the skills along with the time and dough to pull it off.
Here's Classic Industries'...
Here's Classic Industries' '73-78 reproduction headlight bezels, '73-80 DOT side markers, and '75-80 turn-signal/parking lamp lenses. The grille (part number T70043) is designed to replace original equipment '77-79 Chevy truck grilles. These offer a mild custom look thanks to being molded without the raised area in the center to house a Bow Tie.
We removed all the old trim...
We removed all the old trim pieces on the nose, except the stock '74 grille.
Notice the Bow Tie molded...
Notice the Bow Tie molded into the original '74 Chevy grille. By selecting Classic Industries' reproduction '77-79 grille, it's possible to have a custom look with a Chevrolet-designed grille. JB removes the top center mounting screw.