Mark Murphy's

1953 Chevy 1/2-ton

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21 July 2005

From Mark: 

       Awesome site! I figured it was a good idea to do an intro and submit my '53 Chevy 1/2-ton for your gallery.

A True West Coast Kustom

       I can't take any credit for this cool '53 Chevy 1/2-ton other than falling in love with it about a year ago. The style, colors, and paint were put together by a Bay-area tattoo artist, who is also quite the builder/painter. It was "the look" that drew me in when he posted it for sale on the HAMB last year. I did not make a move on it then, but did contact the buyer. I touched base with the buyer again in February, and it turned out that the truck was mostly just sitting. So we struck a deal. Needless to say I was stoked!

       So I sat there with an Atlas and a calendar trying to figure out how to get the truck from CA to NC. Then I realized that Fresno was about 120 miles from Paso Robles (home of the West Coast Kustoms Cruising Nationals car show) and Memorial Day weekend was less than two months away. That's when I hatched the scheme to fly out and actually cruise Paso in the '53. Paso is a huge show, drawing 850+ kustoms and rods and this was the 24th year for the annual Memorial Day show. For an East coast custom car/truck nut, it was like a kid getting to go to Disney World.

       The truck was picked up in Fresno about a week after Paso and arrived in Raleigh the second week of June. Since then, I've had a chance to "bond" with it somewhat. Hehe. It is amazingly solid for the type of vehicle which is typically worked hard and put up wet. We just don't see 'em this well-preserved here in North Carolina. The frame and all of the sheet-metal including floors, cab corners, firewall, cowl and fenders appear to be original and rust free. The front bed panel and tailgate appear to be new. The bed wood is in dire need of replacement, but that is no big thing (famous last words).

       There is a white number stenciled on the (still blue) firewall so perhaps this was a fleet vehicle of some sort? The truck seems to have been extremely well-maintained over the years. I'm currently trying to track down more details of the truck's history. The stock, dipper-oiled 235 has been replaced with a pressure-oiled version from 1956. It's been converted to 12-volt. The suspension and drive train are bone-stock. The stance was achieved by removing leaves from the front and rear parallel spring setups, and 4" lowering blocks out back. It's running the original 16" 6-lug steel wheels, with Coker wide whites and early Olds (caddy-styled) sombreros.

       The interior is still in progress. The stock bench seat is upholstered in a tasteful red and white tuck and roll. The dash has been sprayed in red metalflake with approximately forty-eleventy coats of clear which makes it look like a 60's drumset on steroids when the sun hits it. Hehe. It really just needs headliner, doorpanels, carpet, and window trim to be considered "complete." Oh, and a new steering wheel to replace the cracked original, and maybe some Moon gauges, and how 'bout a heater for winter cruising, and...

       My plan is to maintain the truck's current "low-tech, West coast, mild custom" vibe. I plan to drive it as my daily, so there will be a few concessions for safety's sake. Key items include shoulder belts, discs up front, dual-master cylinder (stock location), possibly relocating the gas tank from cab to under bed, and turn signals.

       The biggest limiting factor to hitting the highways is the stock rear gears. My (very cool) wife would like to get some wheel-time but won't drive a stick. So I'll probably install a 2004R auto and convert to open driveline. Otherwise, I'd probably just install a Patrick's 3.55:1 ring and pinion set and call it good. I like the way the I-6 looks in the engine bay, so I'll probably pick up another one cheap to build while driving the one in the truck (or possibly just freshen the one that's in there). There are hop-up goodies available that will boost performance on the road, and the cool factor when the hood is raised. Plus, the only engine I have ever fully rebuilt was a Chevy 292 I-6 (back in 1984), so I feel like I already know my way around this mill.

       The truck is sporting all new exterior chrome (including running boards!). Mild custom mods include nosed and peaked hood, and shaved door handles, filler cap, wipers, and badges. The hood was already pinstriped, and Skratch did a neat piece for me on the tailgate at Paso. Since this year's Paso was a tribute to Von Dutch, I asked Skratch if he could do a version of "Harvey Shaken From Cross Breeding" which Von Dutch did for a 1956 Rod and Custom story. I thought it would be cool way to commemorate Paso, and the California roots of a True West Coast Kustom.

A Stovebolt Blog

       The Stovebolt Page is an awesome resource. I hope to be able to contribute as I perform projects on my '53 and learn more about these cool old trucks. I created a blog to track projects done and places visited with the '53. I saw another rodder with a blog a few months back and thought it was a neat idea. So I followed suit. I'm a software developer by day but still know very little about HTML and all the cool protocols that make the web user-friendly. The blogspot takes care of all the details ... you just type your text, upload your pics and you're good to go. There are a few limitations that I may try to work around down the road. But for now, it is a convenient way to document the stuff I want (and have fun with the truck), and not have to learn a bunch of additional technical stuff.

       If you all have any questions about my truck, just give a hollar! THANKS!


Mark Murphy
HAMBer_murph (been "murph" all my life, but someone already has that handle on the Stovebolt Page!!)
Raleigh, NC

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