Chris Middendorf's

1967 Chevy Stepside

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19 March 2007
# 1887

From Josh :

           Hello Stovebolters. I am sending this in to you on behalf of my Step-Dad. He has a beautiful 1967 Chevy Stepside that he has had customized for several years. Every show that he goes to, he displays a photo album. It shows the truck when he first got it and it documents all of the work done to it over the years. I thought it would be cool to put that online so that everyone can see it, not just those who go to the shows (which are becoming few a far between these days).

In the beginning

           This is the story of a little truck that had big dreams. This truck started out as a little blue Air Force vehicle stationed at McConnell. It was a good life but the truck longed for more. In 1976 when he had out-lived his usefulness at the Air Base, he was sent to auction. A man, who was looking for a vehicle for his son, bid $450 and took the truck home. Little did this truck now that his new home would be the beginning of a whole new life, more than he had ever dreamed of.

           The young man who would become his new owner was named Chris. A nice young man who also had big dreams for his new truck. It would take a lot of time, work, patience and money to realize this dream. The bed would be first.

           The headlights had to be changed. 1976 Chevelle headlights were mounted in. The taillights were changed to Vega tail lights. Dodge smoke stacks were added to each side. A special tarp was designed to snap around and protect the bed. An electric antenna was mounted were the gas tank use to be. The gas tank taken from a Pinto was now behind the license.

           For the interior work, a console was built to go between two Ford van seats. Everything was covered in crushed red velvet. A new instrument panel was made. A special overhead console was created. This console would hold two speakers, a clock, a power booster and a musical horn. The door panels and even the roof of the truck were covered with crushed velvet.

           Chris and the truck were both very patient and six years later, in 1982, they were both ready to his the car show circuit. The name "Grand Illusion" came from a Styx song. Once a dram now a reality -- how true.

           In January 1984 on the way home from a show in Tonkowa, Oklahoma, I hit a construction barrier. As you can see, the truck was a total loss. Thankfully, I was not hurt. Time to start again with the truck. It took just seven months for the truck to be show worthy again. This time, I will watch out for construction zones.

           This little truck has had a good life with Chris and has been through many changes. Yet something was still missing ... a V8 engine. Chris made a deal with the little truck, "If you make it to 40 shows this year, I will give you that V8." Well, after traveling over 8,000 miles, this little truck made it to 40 shows in one season. Time to say goodbye to the old 6 cylinder and hello V8. It was tough getting used to the new engine, but at least he wouldn't be saying "Opps. I could've had a V8!" The new engine is a Chevy 350 with a 350 turbo. A lot of the engine parts were chromed for a sharper look.

           Chris did more work on the bed. Velvet panels were added to the side of the bed. A cabinet was made to hold a stereo, speakers, a mini TV, and even a mini-bar. Bar doors were added to the back of the bed.

           Chris worked at Dr. Pepper and had a large collection of Dr. Pepper memorabilia. He decided to incorporate the collection into my display. After all, it was the right color ... red. He used red spotlights to highlight the candy apple red paint. The truck was parked on a red carpet.

           Since that first show in 1982, this truck has been to over 400 car shows, won over 150 awards, been wrecked once, had the engine replaced and traveled over 100,000 miles.Both Chris and the truck are no longer as young as they used to be and do not get out to as many shows as they would like to. But they have wonderful memories of the way they were in the carefree days of yesteryear.

           If you would like to ask my Step-Dad any questions, feel free to email him.


Josh Decker

Chris Middendorf
Mulvane, Kansas

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