1956 Cameo AND 1956 Panel
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From Rob :
When Angie and I got married, I wanted to have the service at the Church where my parents were married. My folks were married in 1959 and my Dad had a sweet 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door hardtop. He parked his car directly in front of the Church at the base of the steps.
On our big day, almost 30 years later, I parked my Cameo in the same place, giving orders to Angie's cousin (a Harley biker) to treat it like it was his bike. He did decorate it, but in a way not to ruin the paint.
We took several photos as we were leaving the Church on our way to the reception. This one here being my favorite.
At the wedding, along with my '56 Task Force, in the parking lot there was a '58 Cameo, a '59 GMC Stepside and a '71 Chevy Cheyenne. It looked like a truck show! When we all made our way to the freeway and at one point we had a Cameo in each outer lane and the GMC in the middle.
I bought this truck in 1982 for $500 when I was 17, Now 28 years later, I still have it. It has been down for a re-restoration for some time, but still looks the same (unless you pop the hood or look inside). I have had many trucks over the years that have come and gone, but this one will be with me for a long time to come.
I still have my '56 Chevy Panel truck, and the Trailorboat, but my '78 Chevy Short Fleetside went to a new home late last year.
My newest project is a '67 GM pickup box utility trailer. It is a short stepside and looks cool trailing down the road.
In the summer of 2010, Rob added a 1956 Chevy 210 Beauville 9 Passenger Wagon to his collection. Cool project.
For those who haven't roamed far from the Gallery pages, you may want to check out this Feature story Rob did for us back in 2006 on Living History Day at Camp Withycombe. Clackamas, Oregon -- it's about military vehicles and a salute to the Armed Forces. And we have another Feature story on Rob himself: Get Your Ride 'Tooned' up ~ Editor
04 October 2004
Here They Are! The first Pics of my '62 Trailorboat!
One was taken the day I brought it home, and the other is after I removed the luggage carrier.
Skirts on the truck, and skirted fenders on the trailer!
7 July 2004
by Brent Simpson
Most of you know Rob Butler, The ToonMan for his unique automotive cartoons. What you may not have known is that Rob is the builder of several Classic Chevy Trucks. In fact long before he was known nationally as a cartoonist, he was building Hot Rod Trucks.
Rob had always wanted a ’56 Chevy truck, just like his Dad had when he was a kid. But after searching for one with no luck he ended up with a ‘50 Ford F-1. With the help of family friend Jerry Weiss, Rob replaced the frozen up 239 Flathead V-8 with a 255 Mercury Flathead V-8. After the mechanics were straighten out Rob brought the truck home from Jerry‘s shop, and he and his Dad stripped down the entire body and put the truck in red primer. The truck was looking good, but it wasn’t the Chevy he wanted so he sold it the next year.
With cash to spend Rob set out to find his dream truck. After a slight leaning towards buying a late '60’s El Camino, Rob came back to wanting an old Chevy Truck. In October of ‘82, he fell into one. After driving his sister’s friend home, Rob spotted a truck coming at him and thought it was a friend of his. As the truck drove by, Rob noticed it was a Cameo! Rob whipped his parents ‘62 Nova into a U-turn and chased the Cameo to its home.
Rob had no idea this U-turn would change his life. Rob talked with the ’55’s owner (who is now a great friend) for some time and then finally mentioned that he was looking for a '56 The man said “Really, I have one for sale, but it is a Cameo. Is that OK?”
OK!? You Bet! Rob raced home and ran in the house to tell his Dad that he had found a Cameo for sale. This was something dear to his heart. Rob’s Dad, Pete, had found a Cameo box in a wrecking yard (imagine that!!) years before, and wanted to put it on his ‘56, but Rob’s Mom wouldn't agree to it, stating that there is no more hauling space. Subsequently, Pete didn‘t get it. So, hearing this news was as exciting to Pete as it was to Rob!
The next day, they jumped in Pete’s ‘62 Chevy pickup and went to look at the Cameo. What they saw when the arrived was a giant model kit, with no instructions -- the truck was totally disassembled!! After a closer look, Rob realized there were actually two trucks! -- ’55 and a ’56, both Cameo’s! Rob bought it all anyway and hauled the whole mess home in 7 truckloads!
Rob spent the next five years putting one truck together out of all of the parts. Some changes made to the Cameo included a lowered suspension, a 325 hp 350/ TH 350, turquoise and black paint scheme, and velvet interior. Rob had the Cameo completed in time for the ‘87 Portland Roadster Show where the truck took home a 2nd place trophy. Later that year, the Cameo performed its greatest task, to drive Rob and Angie away at their wedding.
Angie had always wanted to get a van and Rob wasn’t a big fan of vans, so he suggested they get an old Panel Truck. He figured it would be an old truck for him, and Angie could do the inside like a van. So in ‘87, they purchased a ‘56 Chevy Panel and towed it home from Redmond, OR. All it needed to be drivable was a new 235 6 cyl, which Rob got from Paul at Paul’s Classics in Portland. With the new motor and 3:11 Dana rear end, the Panel was a real highway cruiser! Angie had the interior fixed up for camping and Rob was digging up cool factory items to bolt on such as a Hood Bird, Peep Mirror, Bumper Guards, and Fog Lights. It took until ‘99 to decide on a color to paint the truck. Rob wanted Blue; Angie wanted Purple. The first coats of Purple Velvet enamel were shot in September of that year. You see who won!
In the early 90’s both the Cameo and Panel were undergoing suspension upgrades and Rob was driving a tricked out root beer brown with orange trimmed ‘58 Cameo everyday. A truck formerly owned by Rob’s Dad. Yes, he finally did get his Cameo. With a 283, Saginaw 4 speed, and Nova rear end, it was a great driver! But when Angie’s parents moved to Central Oregon in ‘91, they knew a 4x4 had to be their next Truck. Something about driving a Cameo through those snowy winter passes didn’t appeal to Rob. So the ‘58 went down the road.
After having an ’81 Jeep Scrambler for almost a year, Rob needed to come back to GM. In January of ‘92, just before their daughter Cassi was born, they purchased a ‘77 GMC Jimmy 4x4. As usual, Rob couldn’t leave the truck alone. It wasn’t long before the Jimmy had a five inch lift, 35” tires, 8,000 lb Warn Winch, multiple lights, traction bars, axel trusses and many other 4 wheeling goodies.
By 2001, Rob’s Automotive Cartooning Business was really taking off. He knew he needed a truck to drive around to represent Sasquatch Artworks, and the off road capable Jimmy wasn’t the right choice. In March Rob found his truck, a ‘78 Chevy Short Fleetside. The GMC remained the work truck, and the original baby blue ‘78 became the shop truck. Rob did a lot of Hot Rod Art to trade for the parts he needed to give the ‘78 the stance he wanted. After the parts were collected, Rob cruised out his friend, John Witherspoon’s, shop, The Past Lane, and the ‘78 was slammed! The dropped spindles, dropped coils, and lowered rear leafs did the trick. A complete front end rebuild to go along with the lowering parts came along for the ride.
Angie and Cassi surprised Rob with a re-upholstered seat by Rob Couch at Rob’s Upholstery, the same shop that did their ’56 Cameo’s interior. Rob upgraded the ‘78 with simple scallops, an air dam, stock rear bumper, and a tailgate mounted ‘58 “Fleetside” emblem. Later, Rob made his E-bay find of the century, a set of fender skirts! Something that really sets the ‘78 apart from others.
Rob is not just set on 4 wheeled vehicles, he is also the owner of 3 motorcycles. His oldest is a ‘69 Honda 90 Stepthrough, followed by a ‘75 Honda CB360T, and a very low mile ‘81 Yamaha 650 Special. The Cameo and Panel are still at rest, awaiting yet another restoration. The Cameo now sports a much lower attitude with a ‘79 Nova subframe, Chevelle rear end and re mounted spring hangers. The Panel was updated with swivel bucket seats, a V-8, Automatic transmission and an ‘80 Plymouth Volare’ subframe. Frenched tail lights, and dual antennas add to the look of the 50’s custom truck. Due to current gas prices, the GMC doesn’t go out much anymore. Since Cassi will be driving in four years, she just may end up with the massive 4X4!
Other trucks Rob has had include two ‘55 Chevy stepsides, a deluxe ‘55 GMC and a full custom ‘55 Cameo that featured ‘56 Chevy car tail lights. When it comes to his automotive art, Rob shows no bias, but for his own personal cruisers, he is definitely a truck guy. Rob says that one plus with the art is that his hands stay a lot cleaner!