About five years ago, when I was just starting out at Mini Truckin' Magazine, I penned a monthly column like this one. It was based mostly upon semi-humorous events surrounding my life as a mini-trucker, and I found a lot of material to poke fun at myself with each month. I can vividly recall, though, writing one half-serious column about what it takes to finish a long-term project truck and the lessons I'd learned during the buildups of all the vehicles I've owned. That's a pretty long list. I lost count around vehicle number 12, but the last nine have all been pickups of some sort. Two of them were long-term, frame-off builds that took a significant financial and personal toll on my life.
The column I'm referring to detailed the most important things I learned about building custom trucks and how to avoid project burnout. I was able to put to paper (or rather computer keyboard) all of my great ideas for a successful build, but I was never able to heed my own advice, specifically making a plan for the build and sticking to it. The buildup of my latest project, the '67 Chevy that I'm trying to drive to our Havoc show in less than two weeks has been no different. I've had five long years to cement the right ideas in my head for an easy and stress-free build, and once again, I've taken a torch to those ideas. What are ya gonna do? I'm a glutton for punishment.
The first bit of advice I gave the readers of Mini Truckin' was to plan the modifications and overall look of the truck and stick to it no matter what. Sounds easy, right? I had a plan for the '67 and it was a good one. My plan was to just primer the thing suede black, pinstripe it, toss on a set of Rallye wheels, stuff a fuel-injected motor under the hood, and make sure the A/C worked during the road trip. This truck was just going to be a cruiser-a nice, easy, cheap, and best of all, stress-free build that I'd have finished in plenty of time for the August 1 departure date.
Well, I ignored my own advice after my '69 Chevy got ripped off, leaving me without a full-tilt custom truck to call my own. It took about a week for the ramifications of the theft to set in, before I lost my mind and picked the '67 up from the body shop before the guys even got started priming it. I towed it back to my shop and spent a few hours staring at it with a few close friends and then got out a tape measure, a Sharpie marker, and proceeded to slice and dice the body, and subsequently, my good sense to smithereens. Since I'd lost my rocker-dragging, body-dropped C10, I was bound to replace it with another. Logic would tell me that I hadn't finished my first C10 in the four years that I owned it, so trying to duplicate it in less than two months was the dumbest idea I'd ever had.
Stupidity prevailed, and once the stock chassis was sold on eBay, there was no turning back. I'd set out on a dangerous course where the distinct possibility of failure lurked around every corner. My new plan included a tube chassis, front and rear independent suspensions, airbags, and a rocker-dragging stance with 22-inch wheels tucked up into the fenders. Gone was the plan of having a truck painted one color-there simply wasn't time now that plans had changed drastically. I figured it would be ugly, but when it hits the road it will be low and fast.
The auction profits bought the chrome-moly tubing to build the new chassis, and with the help of my friends Mike and Brian at Orange County Auto Shop, I've made more progress on the '67 in two months than I ever did on the '69. The chassis is finished, and all that's left is to fabricate the airbag and shock mounts, and then plumb, wire, and re-assemble the entire truck. There's no way the truck will be road-worthy in time for the Havoc show now though. I've simply got too much on my plate. I think with enough all-night welding sessions, I will get to drive the truck to at least one show this summer though, which is enough to cement my status as a custom truck builder again. I may not have made the big show, but I sure will have fun cruising in September. See ya next month.