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1948 Chevy Loadmaster

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  Owned by Mike Henriques
Stafford Springs, Connecticut
12 July 2008
# 2378

From Mike :

          My 1948 Chevy Loadmaster was found on a farm in Granby, Massachusetts by my Father in 2000. He talked with the owners of the farm and they said the truck had been left there when they bought it. If we wanted, we could have it!

          We were able to contact the original owners of the farm and get the proper paperwork as Massachusetts requires all vehicles to have a title (the truck had been parked there many for years).

          The wooden dump body was in real bad shape and we decided to take it off right there. So the project began. After working on it for most of the day, we towed the cab and chassis to a friend's shop. When I left to go back to Connecticut, I drove by it and showed it to my wife. She said she liked it and to tell my Father if he ever wanted to get rid of it, to let us know.

          His reply “If we wanted it, we could have it!” Here is a photo of my truck the day we got it

          The engine was seized and had no brakes, but the body looked fairly solid and we decided that we would rebuild the engine and do a break job and use it to Cruz’ around on weekends. We have restored many muscle cars and pickups in the past but nothing compared to what we were about to get involved in.

          As anyone who has ever worked with these big AD trucks knows, there are almost no after market parts available for these trucks and most modifications require a lot of planning and a lot of money! I remember, as we sat at our dinning room table throwing around the figure of $3000 to have a nice old truck.

          The first change of plan came when we found out that the straight 6 cylinder was not the original but had been replaced with a 1960’s 6 cylinder. That is when I decided that if it wasn’t going to have the original engine, it "might as well have a V8. " To take it one step further, why not make it automatic with power steering! This seems to be the case when you start talking about “if we're going to that, then we should do this” -- and it became a frame off restoration / modification!

          When you frame off / restore these trucks, you quickly learn that the spots that require metal work are the places you can not see when the fenders are on, for example.

          All the metal work was done by a custom builder in Granby, Mass. You should have seen the look on his face when I dropped the big truck off. You see, he had worked for the original farm 35 years earlier and had indeed driven this very truck! It had fond memories for him and when restoring the sheet metal, there was no “good enough.” He also custom fabricated the floor pan which had to be done to accommodate the automatic transmission.

          The truck was painted in Chicopee, Mass. by a long time family friend.

          The tuck has a rebuilt 283 Chevy with a turbo 400 transmission, headers, stainless dual exhaust, Locar shifter and 12 volt electrical system. Because it looks so stock, it usually turns heads when I fire it up.

          This truck maintains a completely stock look and has the original split rims and (although new) brake system. This turns a 15 minute “stop for coffee” into an hour or two trip down memory lane as most people who see it have a story about some one they know who had one of these trucks. I love to listen to every one of them!

          My truck has ALL of its original sheet metal and in an after market world, that says something about how these trucks were originally built.

          This truck would not even be possible without the endless hours that my Father put in chasing parts around and picking up custom parts.

          We did  go slightly over budget on this one, BUT the best part is that when the amount of money we put in the truck gets discussed, I get to remind my wife that it was her idea!

Mike Henriques


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