Submission for gallery:
I purchased my 54 3100 on January 1st, 2016. I had been looking for about 3 months. I had seen this truck on craigslist for about 2 months. I was interested but it had a flatbed. This made me hesitant but the look of the cab and interior kept me coming back. It also ran and only needed tires and brakes to get it road worthy. I had bid on a couple different trucks on eBay with no luck. Most of the trucks I looked at either did not run or the rot was so bad it was beyond my skill set.
Let me take a step back. How did I get hear? I am 58 and I have always wanted a classic vehicle. I have always thought once I get a little older, more financially stable and things slow down I would take on a project vehicle. One morning I woke up and realized:
1) After 40 years in the work force finances never get better. If I wanted to make this kind of purchase it had to be before I retired and was on a fixed income.
2) I am not getting any younger. I needed to do this while I can still do this.
3) I need to do this while I can still reap the benefits of my work and enjoy it.
3) My kids are grown but now I have grandkids, life doesn’t slow down.
4) It was now or never.
Why a Chevy truck? This was twofold. When I was about 18 years old I had an AD truck I bought for $125 from a car lot. It was rough and the brakes did not work. That was in the 70’s when you could still by an old car for a few hundred dollars and back then AD trucks were considered a piece of junk, not a classic. I still loved that old truck but I only had it for about 6 weeks. I left it parked on the street while I was away for the weekend. When I returned, I discovered it had been towed because a local police officer had miss read the city sticker and thought it was expired. They voided the ticket but I was still on the hook for the towing and storage charge. I paid $125 for the truck, at 18 years old with very little money I could not pay $150 for towing and storage for a vehicle I paid $125 for. I handed the storage lot owner the title and told them it was their truck now. He complained it did not cover his bill. I told him sorry, it is your problem and I walked out. I have missed that truck ever since. Being the ultimate optimist I even stopped in the lot last year and asked them if they still had that old truck sitting back on the lot. It was long gone. The second reason to go with a Chevy truck was I needed to make a case for buying a project vehicle to my wife. She is very much into the vintage home décor and she had several Christmas themed pictures and items depicting the Art Deco and AD trucks in winter scenes. I saw an opening. “Dear, I noticed how much you seem to love to decorate for the holidays with the old trucks. How would you like me to get you a real one? We could decorate it for the holidays and put it on display.” She wasn’t buying it. My only option was to wine and cry like a 3rd grader until I wore her down.
On January 1st I took my adult son, a rented U-Haul car carrier and a wad of cash and made the 100 mile drive to look at the truck. Trying to hide my excitement we negotiated a deal and I made the trip home with my new project. As a side note, I bought the truck from a man in his late 70’s. He was selling the truck because his sons had bought him a fully restored Apache. He would not show me the truck he was selling until I looked at his new truck. I am glad he showed it to me. It was a beautiful truck and I understood his excitement.
The previous owner had the original fenders even though the bed was long gone. I was able to find an original 54 box at a salvage yard in Wisconsin and had it shipped. I ordered new period tires from Coker. A fellow bolter sent me a couple original wheels for just the cost of shipping (listed in the Swap Meet forum) and I ordered all new brake components front to back. I quickly got to work and had it on the road in about a month (tires and brakes). I then replaced the headlight switch, converted to an alternator, replaced the gas gauge, replaced the door glass, replaced light bulbs all around and replaced the 6v motor in the heater with a 12v motor. I cleaned up the bed and fenders, painted and installed them on the frame by mid-summer. My number one goal was to have it ready for my son’s wedding in October. It didn’t have to be done, just look good and be reliable to drive.
I had it ready one week before the wedding. It was an outdoor wedding and my truck was used as a center piece for the shabby chic theme. This goes back to the sales pitch I made to my wife and how we could use it as a prop for various events.
Wedding shots of my truck: WeddingPic1
Keeping with the theme and the promise I made to my wife, I have now outfitted my truck for Christmas. Christmas1
I still have a lot of work to do. I need to replace the door rubber. The front fenders and floor need some repair work. The speedometer does not work. The windshield leaks and there is a host of other minor repairs I need to complete. I have not had it a full year yet but it has been a great journey for me. It does not have the history and stories that many bolters can tell about their trucks but I hope this is the start of a long history of memories. This past year has been everything I hoped it would be. It has been great fun working on it, driving it and talking with all the people who get excited when they see it. I had a women the other day tell me her father has a 56 and the bulk of her childhood memories were going for a Christmas tree with her father in that old truck. I hope my kids and grandkids can build some memories along with me.
I have a number of photos located here that include many depicting the progress of my trucks restoration. My 54 Photo Album