Jason Riner is a talented guy. He owns Jason's Paint and Body Shop in Warm Springs, Virginia, and likes to build a project vehicle every couple of years as a way of showcasing the talents of the family business. Even though he's created several magazine-quality vehicles in the past, this '53 Chevrolet pickup is one he always wanted. "Those others were just buying me time until I got to this one," he tells Sport Truck.
We know about that! Sometimes you have to wait for the right one to come along.
Jason found the truck in a trader magazine and felt the seller didn't know what he had: The price was only $250. Of course, the Chevy needed a lot of elbow grease, and it took almost nine months before the basket case was transformed into the beauty on these pages. The floorboards and firewall were rusted out and needed to be replaced. The bed was too far gone to rebuild, so a new one was ordered from LMC Truck. Aftermarket front and rear fenders also simplified the frame-off restoration. Jason retained the central section of the frame supporting the cab, molding it for looks and boxing it for strength. Z-notched rails were added up front to accept the modern tubular A-arm suspension, and 6-inch C-notched rails were added in the rear to accommodate the late-model Ford 9-inch with Moser axles and 3.73 positraction internals.
Jason also raised the bed floor 8 inches and repositioned the gas tank between the new rear rails. The truck's rocker-slammin' stance comes from an Air Ride Technologies system that dumped almost a foot off the vintage Chevy's too-tall profile thanks to the adjustable struts on all four corners. Twin Viair 480 compressors fill the single 5-gallon reserve tank and activate the struts through 1/4-inch lines and Parker valves. For modern stopping power, Jason added disc brakes-13s up front and 12s in the rear-from No Limit Engineering.
Once the suspension was in place, Jason began beautifying the engine room prior to installing the 350 Ram Jet V-8 crate motor. The firewall was cleaned up, and the eye-catching inner fender panels were smoothed, tubbed, molded, and painted to match the exterior. Engine additions include March pulleys, a K&N air filter, Hedman headers, Flowmaster mufflers, and an Afco radiator to keep the 375hp motor's temps in the green. A Turbo 350 trans with a B&M shift kit delivers power to the stylish, 22-inch Intro rims.
The front end uses a show-chromed, repro Chevrolet grille. Side doors were converted to a single pane of glass, and new glass was added throughout. Interior mods began with seats from a '91 Escort that were cut, recontoured, and upholstered in glove-soft tan leather. Rickamin's Upholstery in Hot Springs, Virginia, handled the stitchwork, adding suede accents to the seats, door panels, headliner, and rear of the cab. The reconfigured dash is now a combination of old and new, with Jason having left the stock Chevrolet imprint in the dash but welding up almost everything else. The gauges are from Dakota Digital, the steering column is from ididit, and the Intro steering wheel matches the rims. A modern addition, the molded-in monitor, is a 7-inch screen from Pyle that augments the flip-face stereo head unit from JVC. The truck will soon have a pair of rear-mounted amps and multiple speakers throughout the cab. Power windows, electric door locks, and all the latest modern conveniences transform the '53 into a comfortable grand tourer.
Paint is always the perfect finishing touch, and Jason was really impressed by the new DuPont Hot Hues palette. Aztec Yellow Pearl Metallic makes the '53 stand out in any crowd.
Though it took a long time to create, Jason says his masterpiece was well worth the wait. Not only does this Chevy function as the perfect calling card for Jason's Paint and Body, it just plain drives like a dream.