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A Cool Old Truck

Kris Dorneman's

1955 1st Series Chevy 1/2-ton

06 April 03 Update

Casey gives us a heads-up on his brother's progress!

Hi, I just wanted to send in an updated photo of my little brother's truck...it's been a couple of years since the last one, and the changes have been pretty drastic, both in the truck and himself! As for a description of the work,  Kris completely dismantled the truck once again, planning only to do the bodywork and put it back together.  As he found out, of course, it couldn't be that simple.  

He started with the chassis, removing the IFS we had installed, narrowing the cross-member, and replacing it in the notched and boxed chassis.  He also added drop spindles to lower the front of the truck further and to get the wheels inside the fender wells.  He also placed a complete rear axle from a mid-70's chevy truck to match the bolt patterns front and rear.  All holes were filled in the chassis, and a new fuel tank was placed under the rear of the bed.  Everything received a coat of POR-15 to prevent rust.  Wheels are still 15" American Racing Chromed Smoothies, running without hubcaps.  Tires are short and skinny in front, tall and fat in the back. The engine received a slightly healthier cam, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, long-tube headers, and 3" exhaust.  The transmission was rebuilt with a stall converter.  Otherwise the drivetrain was left alone for reliability. 

The cab received an all-new floor, kick panels, floor bracing, and lower firewall.  The upper firewall was smoothed, and a new master cylinder/pedal mount was designed and fabricated, and the outside of the cab received patch panels for the typical rust areas. Other body modifications include a filled hood seam, shaved drip rails, filled seams on the grille, an aftermarket "bowtie" tailgate, and '49 doors on the '55 cab.  Fiberglass running boards were installed, and all of the little bumps and badges were removed. 

The truck was completely rewired with Autometer gauges placed in the stock dash, and an S-10 bench seat will be installed with the forthcoming interior, replacing the current early-Mustang buckets.  The dash was extended downward slightly to accommodate a stereo head unit, as well. The paint is a heavy pearl silver, and is absolutely striking in sunlight.  The paint was the only part of the truck Kris didn't do himself, not bad for a high school senior!  

The truck is reliable, fast, and definitely an eye-catcher.  His next project is a 1949 Fleetline Deluxe custom, as well as a 1968 Chevelle drag racer.  He's looking to make this kind of thing a career, and I think he's well on his way.  

--Casey Dorneman

01 February 01 Update

From Casey:

Hi guys,

     Here are some updated photos of my brother's 55 1st series.These pictures sort of show the 1977 Chevy 1/2-ton IFS swap. They also show the flame job (done by Kris and myself in my dad's shop in an afternoon ... pretty good for a couple of novices, eh?) and the new chrome steelies on the front.

     He's got snow tires on the back right now, hence the mismatched rims. He's also added the chrome side pipes ($50 at a swap meet, I think) and put the tailgate back on it. He's put in a Moon metalflake steering wheel, and he's switched over to an Edelbrock carb.

     He drives it everyday, no matter what (even without a heater for a while, and South Dakota is definitely a place where you need heat) and loves it.

     Just thought you guys would like to see what he's been up to.

Casey Dorneman


1 November 00

     This truck is my brother's 1955 1st series Chevy half-ton shortbox. He's done twice as much work on it as I did to mine, and he's only 15. He's a pretty good body man, has put an all new 350/350 combo and Nova rear in it, and we are trying to iron out the new IFS we put in it.

     I just want to say that this site has been invaluable in working on these old trucks, and the people that use the bulletin boards are the most valuable resource.

Thank you, everyone.

Casey and Kris Dorneman


Kris' brother, Casey, has a neat looking 1965 GMC Fleetside Shorty in the Gallery. -- editor


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