Jason Riner, from Warm Springs, Virginia, tries to build a new vehicle each year. He owns his own automotive shop, Jason's Paint and Body, and uses the customs as rolling calling cards for his business. Since everyone loves a vintage truck, this rare '66 Chevy Fleetside longbed, found abandoned in the woods, became the perfect choice. Jason bought it, along with a second parts truck, determined to do a complete ground-up restoration.
After straightening, strengthening, and upgrading the frame, the first step was swapping the rebuilt power steering, power front disc brakes, and the front suspension from an '83 Chevy two-wheel-drive Blazer parts truck. The crew continued with the addition of a 9-inch Lincoln Mark V rearend complete with disc brakes, Posi-traction, and 3.73 gears. Custom trailing arms, lowered springs from DJM Suspension Specialists, and Toxic-Drop shocks hold the rear in place. Moving up front, DJM lowered springs and dropped upper and lower A-arms hold the stock front spindles. Jason prefers the dropped A-arms, since he believes they provide a better ride than the drop spindle approach. Airbags for the truck are slated for the future.
The cab and bed were pretty rusty, and the fenders and hood were unusable. Using patience and patch panels, the team brought the cab and doors back to like-new condition. LMC Truck Parts & Accessories came to the rescue with new fenders, tailgate, and bed floor. Stylin' Concepts Cadillac taillights were added to the rear fenders. Since wider rear tires were also in the plan, Jason grafted in wheeltubs from Summit Racing, then he detailed the bed with custom oak planks and aluminum strips, painted to match the rest of the truck. Spectators enjoy all the bed mods, thanks to the new side-opening tailgate. The subtle gas-filler door mounted in the center of the bed connects to a custom aluminum tank underneath. While they were down there, the team detailed the bottom of the truck as carefully as the top.
An LMC reproduction bumper and grille, along with an aggressive cowl-induction hood from Unlimited, upgrade the front. For the perfect finishing touch, Jason sprayed the truck with '04 Escalade Sunburst Orange and Pearl White. For more style to complement the sano paintjob, he added a big set of 22-inch Panther wheels.
As soon as the chassis could handle the extra power and the detailed engine compartment was complete, Jason installed a 406-cid small-block Chevrolet engine, bored 0.030 over and equipped with longer rods and fatter pistons. The engine is equipped with a Holley 670-cfm carburetor, an Edelbrock Performer intake, an MSD ignition, and Hedman headers with a Flowmaster exhaust. Important details include the polished 100-amp Summit alternator, Summit air cleaner and valve covers, polished master brake cylinder, and March pulleys. A Be Cool radiator with electric fan and Summit Racing oil cooler keep the temperature in the green, while the combination of Summit and JEGS aftermarket accessories create enough sparkle under the hood to make the show judges smile. The rebuilt TH 400 tranny has a B&M Shift Improver kit and a 2,500-stall converter, a package tough enough to handle the 400 hp from the new motor.
Moving inside, the dash was painted to match the exterior and filled with a set of new Auto Meter gauges. Seats from the '83 Blazer were re-upholstered in gray tweed by Lee's Custom Upholstery in Hot Springs, Virginia, and reinstalled. Lee's also stitched the door panels, new center console, sunvisors, headliner, carpet, and the Lokar shifter and emergency brake boot. The steering column, also from the '83 donor truck, gave Jason wiper controls and an ignition switch on the column, while a Billet Specialties steering wheel keeps him in close touch with the road. Making road trips fun is the Pioneer CD head unit that feeds a pair of component sets mounted in the kick panels.
The truck took Jason about 20 months to complete-customers' vehicles come first-but the results were worth it. It's not only a joy to drive but also a great advertisement for his talented staff. Number seven in a long line of show-worthy vehicles produced by the shop, the Fleetside is the latest and best. Jason would like to thank David Puffenbarger, Milton Deeds, Ralph Riner, Jr., and Patti Riner.