1953 Chevy 5-window 1/2-Ton
From John :
I've had an interest in old Chevy / GMC trucks for years, but I just recently discovered Stovebolt.com during a search for a 4-speed transmission to replace the 3-speed that I originally installed in my 1953 Chevy 1/2-ton. I was directed to the Stovebolt swapshop by Phillip of Patrick's in Casa Grande, Az. Even though I didn't find what I was looking for, "I was Hooked!" I now appreciate and enjoy this site very much.
The old truck wasn't officially for sale when I first saw it, but I talked with the owner, gave him my phone number and requested he call me, if he ever decided to sell. Six years passed and even though I had seen him driving the truck and talked with him a few times during that period, neither of us had ever again mentioned me buying it.
Finally, in October 2001, I called him (he was in his 80's by now) and asked about the truck, to which he replied, "I've been praying and I feel the Lord wants you to have it!" I met with him right away, the deal was completed and he cried as I drove away in it.
The old truck looked and ran OK and even though I drove it home, I soon discovered everything was worn pretty much beyond repair and the body was mostly well sculpted bondo holding a lot of rust together.
After total dis-assembly and utilizing a few salvaged parts (primarily chassis and cab) as a base, what began as a 55 1st series GMC was gradually transformed into this 1953 Chevy, which by now, my wife and I had dubbed 'Therapy'.
I drove it into my shop and began dis-assembly in January 2002 and didn't drive it again until November 2008 (well ... not counting the times I drove it like a big go-kart before I put the cab back on ... and by the way, that's a 'real' bucket seat).
The truck remained at about 75% complete until the summer of '09 after relocating from Louisiana to Oklahoma. I got tired of looking at the exposed rear chassis and people asking "When you gonna finish it?" so I built a temporary flatbed.
Temporary soon became a year and I began to think the flatbed looked good. I knew then I had a serious problem!
In September 2010, I decided to quit it or finish it? With new determination and my wife's encouragement, I got busy. I located a restorable '48 model bed nearby on Craigslist, AAAAAAND! ........ my wife Gloria and I took our first ride in it as a completed truck December 31, 2010!
Even though this project began when I bought and drove an old truck home ('55 1st series GMC), this is not about a restoration. I became discouraged trying to find GMC parts, so I built this as a 1953 Chevy from tons of patch panels and parts, located and purchased as needed.
I didn't have a specific plan other than I wanted a better than new '53. I wanted to retain a lot of originality and yet be modern enough to be practical and useful.
I classify this old truck as a 50's style mild custom. The chassis, cab and dash were salvaged from the '55 1st series GMC that I just mentioned driving home and everything else is '47 and later Chevy and aftermarket, new and / or rebuilt.
The truck has a 3" dropped front straight axle, modified stock suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars and drum brakes. Drivetrain consist of, a 1959 Chevy pickup 235 with lots of goodies (too numerous to mention), the aluminum intake, three 1-bbl side-draft Carters, and factory dual exhaust are from a '55 Corvette. The transmission is a 4-speed Saginaw from M/R Racing with a Patrick's/Hurst shifter and the rear end is a '58 Chevy pickup 10 bolt with Yukon 3:38's.
Now for the interior, I smoothed the dash (ashtray and radio holes filled) and added Dolphin electronic gauges in the stock GMC dash panels. The radio / cd player resides in a homemade overhead console along with the power window controls and electric door release buttons.
My wife is slightly claustrophobic and felt uncomfortable without an inside door latch release handle so I did install one on the passenger side, just below the dash on the upper cowl panel. Armrest are from a late model Camero and seats are from a Firebird, I also installed 3-point seat belts. The center console / glove box is homemade. The original glove box area in the dash is now filled with a Hot Rod Air a/c heater unit and the rest of the dash houses EZ wiring and cable drive wiper system.
All the upholstery is done in channel pleat black naugahyde. The seats (at my wife's request) remain fabric.
The paint is Harley Davidson Birtch White, Dupont Urethane. The body is basically stock with just a few modifications, beginning at the front, Frenched three-bar headlights, sunken aerial at top rear of left front fender, filled upper cowl vent, smoothed firewall, left inner-fender modified for side draft carbs. The suicide doors are shaved inside and out, 1-pc power windows with all door latches, elect solenoids, etc. located in lower cowls.
The bed is stock with wood floor and for practical purposes is done insides and floor, with Raptor spray-in bed liner.
I Frenched '59 Cadillac tail lights into the rear fenders and conveniently located gas tank filler in top rear of left rear fender (since gas tank was re-located from inside cab to between the rear frame rails). For added safety, I installed a 48" led light strip below the tail gate that serves as tail/brake light and sequential turn signals .
I think every truck should be able to pull a trailer, so I fabricated and installed a 2" frame-mounted receiver. The rear bumper is an inverted 1954, the step recess provides a clean custom looking exit for the dual exhaust and receiver hitch tube.
I have failed to list a lot of stuff, but you get the idea. I have done most of the work myself, including painting and stitching the interior. The only thing actually sent out was the engine block, crankshaft and cylinder head for machine work.
Everywhere I drive, it does attract a lot of attention and as a result I talk with many people. However, I have decided, most people aren't really interested in my truck or my story. Mostly, the sight of the old truck sparks a memory and they just want to tell me their old truck story!
It is a real pleasure to drive though and I am enjoying it very much. These Chevrolet Advance Design trucks came out the year before I was born, so by the time I began driving, all these models I had the opportunity to drive were worn out and didn't ride or operate very smoothly. I am surprised how quietly, smoothly and well this one handles, especially considering they were originally and primarily built as farm implements.
For me, the greatest joy of having this truck is not when we (the truck and I) are in the spotlight but when I go out, walk into my shop, flip on the lights and see it setting there all sharp and shiny. I walk around it as if I were seeing it for the first time. I am not admiring it because of anything I've done. In fact, the more time that passes since its completion, the more difficult it is to believe that I had any part in building it. It's just that, to me these old trucks classify as fine art ... aaaaand ... Isn't that what you do with fine art? Stand back and admire!.
Even growing up in the farm / ranch country of Oklahoma and attending a rural high school (early 60's), where a lot of the boys drove old pickups, I still didn't develop a desire to own one. In fact, I don't remember anyone, even the guys that drove them, thinking old trucks were cool. I got my first car at 13. It was a 1937 Nash 4-door sedan, a gift from a Brother-in-law who realized the importance, to a young man, of owning a car. I drove it at least a million miles -- although I never got it running or ever moved it from where it was parked when he gave it to me.
My long awaited driver license and second car, an actual running, driveable vehicle, came at age 14. It was a 1946 Ford 2-door sedan with a 100 HP Mercury flathead V8, which I purchased for $125. I can best describe it by saying, "It was what we today typically refer to as a Rat Rod." I drove it proudly for two years while learning the basics of owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Then for my 16th birthday (in 1964) my step-Dad and my mother presented me with a super nice 1954 Chevy 2-door, 235 6-cyl, 3-speed, new paint, new interior and new white wall tires. As soon as possible, I added a set of baby moons. With the help of the above referenced Brother-in-law (a car guy), we also split the exhaust manifold and ran duals, with glass packs, of course.
That '54 served me well until late 1967 when I bought a new 1967 Chevelle Malibu, red in and out, 2-door hardtop (no fender skirts), but I did get the SS 3-bar flippers! By 1970 I was in need of a second vehicle, preferably a truck. A man at my workplace just happened to have a well kept, good running 1953 GMC 5-window, short bed, 1/2-ton priced at $250, which seemed reasonable. Needless to say, I became the proud, new owner of a work truck. My love of and involvement with Advance Design Chevy / GMC trucks began!