The greatest compliment Michael Hall could receive after 10 intense years of cutting, welding, fitting, and finessing his '69 Chevy pickup would come from a casual observer. With the truck on display for the very first time at the Goodguys 11th Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas, Michael found himself overwhelmed with words of praise by onlookers and truck fans. One observer gave the truck a particularly good going-over and told Michael, "This truck is amazing! It's so well put together it looks like a factory prototype." That was great until the gentleman backed it up with, "And I should know - I work for GM and build their concept vehicles."
That is a very accurate summation of the fine work on Michael's '69. Now, you could say, "Yeah, anyone could have one of those built," but Michael didn't have just anybody build his truck - he built it himself!
It's the details throughout that make this frame is an original '69 unit that has been dropped to the pavement with a 3-inch Z-step and vehicle - so let's start with the foundation. Thefitted with an '86 GM pickup suspension up front and given a C-notch in the rear with custom crossmembers in between and boxed from end to end. The stance is controlled by an owner-installed airbag system.
The driveline received a fully detailed '02 Chevy ZZ4, followed by a built 700-R4 and 9-inch Ford rearend. With the platform out of the way, Michael moved on to the most difficult part of the transformation - from "stocker to shocker."
The part that would take the most time also had to be the portion that was the most well planned because if the body doesn't look right, the party stops right there. Cutting up a truck into multiple pieces can easily end up in the "what was he thinking?" file, but Michael had some good ideas when he started. He knew that he wanted some additional space inside the cab for his 6-foot 5-inch frame, but he wasn't going to just tack on additional material behind the doors. Michael decided the way to go would be to add 6 inches through the middle of the doors. This would require the lengthening of not only the doors, but also the roof, rockers, and floor. The result is what makes this appear to be a "factory prototype." That was just the beginning of the bodywork as the '67 front clip and owner-built custom bed would also receive their fair share of Michael's handiwork.
Once the body was thoroughly massaged, Michael finally took a break and had Zig Ebel lay out the shimmering silver paint over the perfect bodywork. The final phase would be trimming up the inside of the stretched cab. Michael had Johnny Canty stitch up the seats, but like the rest of the truck, the remainder of the interior work was handled by the owner. Creature comforts include a GM tilt steering column, Vintage Air climate control, VDO Night Pilot gauges, and a Pioneer/Sony sound system.
The stranger from GM obviously knew a good thing when he saw it because Michael went on to win the Goodguys 2003 Truck of the Year title during the debut weekend. Michael says that so far, winning the Goodguys title is the most memorable experience, but there should be many more great experiences to follow now that the truck has finally hit the street.
Under the sleek nose and just...
Under the sleek nose and just behind the owner-built custom stainless grille is a massaged and detailed GM ZZ4. Dress-ups include a Pontiac air cleaner, GM valve covers, and many owner-built and detailed items.
The bed at first can be overlooked...
The bed at first can be overlooked as "that box on the back for hauling stuff," but this cargo carrier is something very special. The bed was widened to better match up with the cab by custom-building double-walled sides. The custom tailgate is also widened and stays shut with bear-claw latches. A late-model floor brings the box right up to date with a retro feel given by a pair of original '69 stepside fenders. The fenders integrate well with the cab thanks to a pair of reversed cab corners as modern-style bed steps.
The interior of this truck...
The interior of this truck goes FAR beyond the level of most custom trucks. The fit and finish is amazing. After the cab was stretched 6 inches in length, the owner didn't want to feel too far back from the dash. So it was stretched an equal 6 inches into the passenger area. Infinity G30 bucket seats are wrapped in Ultra-leather upholstery with real ostrich hide used for contrast. All the comforts of a late-model have been built into this most-modern cockpit.