During the journey to build a custom classic truck, we are sometimes introduced to many unique challenges that test our knowledge and our patience. Resurrecting something from its mechanical existence of decades ago can become a testament to one's dedication and perseverance. Dennis Bunton has worked in the automotive community all his life, from his father's alignment shop where he got started, to running a body shop for 13 years, where he learned sheetmetal fabrication, and now finally his own business customizing and restoring classic iron.
Dennis' decision to open up his own shop was more of a "have to" than a "want to." His wife Debbie suffered an injury that required Dennis to care for her 24 hours a day. And in a perfect world, he would have been able to stay home with her and not have to worry about how the bills were going to get paid. But, it's not a perfect world, and Dennis had to worry about how to pay the bills, so he said goodbye to his job at the body shop and opened Bunton's Rod Shop out of his garage, so he could remain by his wife's side and still have an income to pay the bills. And once Debbie made her recovery and things returned to normal, she started to take care of the office side, which gives Dennis time to tinker around on a project of his own.
The truck you see before you was about an hour away from becoming a pile of scrap metal, when Dennis made the decision to buy the truck for 50 bucks. But, the '52 was in bad shape, like a middle-aged chain smoker trying to run on a treadmill for an hour. It would take Dennis a lot of time and effort just to get it to respectable daily driver status. When Dennis' wife found out what he was in for, the only thing that she could say was, "You bit off more than you can chew this time." The only parts that were not scrapped were the cab and the frame. Everything else was going to the junkyard. Even the cab needed a lot of help because the bottom 6 inches of the cab had to be removed and a new floor pan made.
Before Dennis realized it, he not only had a daily driver, but the truck was looking more like a show-winner. So, he powdercoated and chromed the undercarriage, instead of just painting it. Wrapping the interior with leather rather than vinyl, Dennis took the time to make sure all the painted panels were straight and smooth as possible. And saying that he hand-fabricated the overhead and center console would undermine the time and effort that was spent shaping and forming the sheetmetal making it fit, flawlessly. When Dennis was done, he had a truck second to none, by winning three Best of Show trophies, Truck of the Year at Myrtle Beach, and on May 21, walked away with the F-1 Truck of the Year at the F-100 Super Nationals. The funny part about this truck is that Dennis was only building it to be a daily driver.
Owner/hometown: Dennis Bunton / Statesville, North Carolina
Year/make/model: '52 Ford Pickup
Engine/drivetrain: Supercharged '01 Ford 5.4L / K&N Filtercharger / BBK chrome valve covers / modified computer / boost increased to 8-1/2 pounds / '01 Ford AR100 four-speed automatic transmission / Lokar shifter / B&M trans cooler / '01 Ford Sport Trac rear axle narrowed 4 inches / 3.73 gears with Posi-trac
Wheels/tires: (Front) 17x8.5-inch Billet Specialties SLX08 / 215/60R17 Goodyear Eagle / (Rear) 20x12-inch Billet Specialties SLX08 / 295/40R20 Goodyear Eagle
Suspension: Boxed frame/ (Front) Scott's Hot Rods front clip / '78 Mustang spindles / GM 11-inch disc brakes / Mustang II rack-and-pinion power steering / QA1 coil-over shocks / (Rear) '00 Ford Explorer disc brakes / triangulated four-link / QA1 coil-over shocks
Installers: Dennis Bunton, powdercoating by Deversified Finishes
Interior: '94 Toyota Camry bucket seats / custom-made dash / wiring harness from E-Z Wiring / TPI Tech gauges / 13-inch chrome steering wheel / factory green tinted windows from B&B windows / interior wrapped in bone leather
Interior work: Dennis Bunton
Body and Paint: 3-inch chop top / retained factory rear window / shaved door handles and hinges / House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl / factory stainless rear bumper with license plate laser-cut into it / Dan Carpenter reproduction bed with 4-inch mini tubs / smooth tailgate / Pro's Pick WOW strips / maple bed floor/ custom-mixed DuPont yellow
Bodywork: Dennis Bunton and Jimmie Patrum, J&S Fabrication (bumper)
Paintwork: Scott Osborne and John Black
Upholsterer: Allen Carswell of SCATS
Audio/video: Pioneer AM/FM/CD head unit / Acoustik 600-watt amp / Blaupunkt components
Additional Modifications: Hyper-Cool air conditioning / overhead and center console hand-formed out of sheetmetal to resemble the Chevy SSR