The rest of the bodywork went off without a hitch, and it was time to build a foundation for the sheetmetal. This is where things got a bit easier. One of Dad's brothers, Benny Benson, has a custom shop of his own and had a customer looking to sell a frame. This guy wanted to build a complete tube chassis for his project. After some haggling, they settled on a price and the already modified frame was on its way to Sam's shop. The frame is a set of stock rails with a Heidt's Mustang II conversion up front and a parallel four-link out back. There are chrome adjustable coilovers at all four corners and a fresh 10-bolt posi attached to the four-link. Some minor tweaking to the motor mounts was all that was necessary to ready the rails to slip under the cab.
Instead of stuffing a big-block under the hood, which is dad's norm, he opted to use a 355ci small-block he had in the back of the shop. I asked him why no rat motor? He replied, "I'm going to drive this every day, and have you seen the price of gas?" Gas was over four bucks a gallon at the time.
He backed the mouse motor with a TH350 built by Steve Sharp and used Kuegal components to hook up the shifter. The project was taking shape, but there was one element that Dad and I were fighting over--the wheels and tires. I know this is his truck, but I couldn't keep my mouth shut when it came to his 15-inch Americans. I pushed and pushed for him to try a set of 20s, and once I borrowed a set and stuck them on, he was sold. He ended up buying the borrowed rollers, a sweet set of KMC Novas with Nitto rubber.
Next, Dad got with Vic Sapien from Seaside Collision Center to lay down a slick coat of PPG Grabber Orange. Vic took pieces of the truck every day until everything was smooth and shiny. After the paint cured, Dad started assembling the shiny stuff. A whole new front grille and bumper setup from Classic Industries fills the front of the truck. Inside the bed is a hickory kit from Bedwood and Parts, which Sam decided to oil instead of spending a bunch of time laying down varnish.
Since it was his specialty, Sam waited until the end to complete the interior. I asked him if he was going to go all crazy with it and he said, "No. I want it nice, simple, and easy to do."
He had a set of '04 Hyundai seats that only needed some minor work. He shaved the headrests and fabbed up some new brackets, and that was pretty much it for the seats. He also made a matching vinyl headliner and door panels. Even though the motor has a mild cam and sounds pretty good, a radio will be needed. I gave him an older Pioneer head unit and a set of 6x9s that I had. He built a box to sit behind the seats and hold everything. The dash has a cool radio delete plate and the modern stereo would just look out of place anyway. To match all the lines of the dash trim, a Grant Banjo steering wheel tops the '69 Chevy C10 tilt steering column.
After Pops finished the carpet and installed all of the new gauges, the truck was ready for its maiden voyage, straight to Porter's Alignment Shop to get the wheels straight and then to DNA Speedway Muffler to have the Flowmasters and tailpipes hooked up. Now that the truck is basically done, pops has been cruising it all over town. I guess this was the retirement plan all along--build a truck and then take it easy. I asked him if this was the last one and he said, "Yes." But I have heard that at least five times. Knowing my old man, this will not be the last custom vehicle he builds, but I'm glad he finally got to build an Advanced Design.