Restore or Rod?

It's YOUR decision
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One way ...Or another ...


          The topic "Hotrod versus Original" is a subject sure to get the literary juices going. An ongoing debate that won't get settled here but lots of people still ask for help in deciding. So here are a few views ...

Give me OEM ...Or give me death!

By John Milliman

          My opinion on going the street rod route is just that -- an opinion. That decision is a very personal thing which takes into account your personality, likes and desires. What appeals to you more?

          For me, personally, there never was a decision -- I always liked and wanted an original truck. While I can appreciate a well-executed street rod, there is always a part of me that laments the loss of a fine, old example of what trucks no longer are (i.e., utilitarian workers that put function ahead of form).

          Another thing to consider is mechanical aptitude. I've seen a lot of rods at the cruise-ins and shows, etc., but I've seen very few good ones (my personal bias aside -- these were poorly done butcher jobs). They were started with the highest intentions of creating a Hotrod Magazine Feature Truck but ended up with a Nightmare on Elm Street. At least with an original truck, you know how everything is supposed to look and how it goes together. (Of course, there are butcher jobs among the originals, too -- see my truck.)

          Going the restoration route is harder in a way -- researching takes time and patience. Finding the correct parts can take time and money (but usually not as much cash as a street rod approach). How dedicated are you?

          The bottom line for me is that my truck leans precariously around corners, is hard to steer, wanders around the road like a team of drunk Percherons, smells like a gas station and gets really hot in the cab. I love it. That's what trucks used to be before they became glorified cars. (Shoot, these days, my wife won't let me wash my duallie because she wants people to know it's a working truck and not a Yuppiemobile!)

          I'm not trying to sound holier than thou. Like I stated earlier, this is a very personal decision and that's how I arrived at it. Take it for what it's worth, but ultimately, the decision rests with you. What do you want? What turns you on? Whichever it is, do it. And forget about the rest of us, no matter what we say.

          After all, it's your truck.

Milliman's '49 1-ton and '49 1.5-ton

Hey OEM Guys ...Put up or Shut Up!

By Don Jones

          This is an old topic which will never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction as everyone has their own view and all the views vary.

          I have had both Antique and Hot Rod vehicles. I had a ' 53 Chevy 1/2-ton that I restored to Lackawanna Railroad M of W specs and graced the pages of several national railfan mags in the mid '80's. I had a lot of fun with it and it was a real popular photo op around Steamtown National Park in Scranton, Pa.

          When I decided to sell it, none of the people who wanted it kept as an antique were willing to buy it. (For $500.00, running and Pennsylvania inspected.) So it went to a fellow who was going to build a Street Rod. He never did and it ended up being junked.

          I later bought a ' 46 Chevy 1/2-ton and added a Dodge Aspen front suspension, SB Chevy V-8, TH-400 auto, Camaro rr, Caddy tilt / telescope wheel etc. I still have it and it has been to the Street Rod Nationals in Louisville KY, Columbus OH, Syracuse NY and a lot of regional and local shows. It is home-built from junk yard parts and the total investment as of now is about $3000. It is driven to every show it gets to and is a daily driver all year around.

Jones' '46 1/2-ton

OEM no match ...for Texas drivers!

By Ron Marsh

          Well, here is my two cents worth. I think it depends on how you want to use the vehicle. I will be driving 10 to 15 thousand miles a year at highway speeds and in Fort Worth city traffic. I need something that will run and handle to keep these Texas drivers from running me over.

         Plus, the newer engine will hopefully run cleaner and more efficient. But if I did not want to drive it so much I might have kept it original for nostalgic reasons.

Marsh's '41 1/2-ton

The Fence Sitters ...

There's Room in the Middle

By Jim Merritt

          My truck is neither accepted by the rodders nor the stockers -- it's somewhere in-between. It's too low to be stock plus it's got a modern seat ('89 Explorer extended cab), but it's just a SIX, (261 ci, dual carbs and exhaust).

          My motivation to build this truck was just that -- "My motives" and what I wanted.

          A "resto-rod", there is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

          Stockers and Rodders -- These are probably the two most diametrically opposed groups ever to attend a swap meet. I like too many different cars and trucks to get stuck on either side of this argument.

          The first thing I did to my truck was replace the stock gears for a torque tube with 3:55 cogs, also the best single thing I've ever done to the truck. Not being a welder r/ fabricator type, just about everything on my truck had to be "bolt on."

          With Chevy's, that gives a guy lots of ways to go with so many years' parts being interchangeable.

          Having built a couple cars / trucks from the ground up, I'd advise someone to first decide what he or she wants to do with the finished product. Racer, show truck, hauler, never seen one that could do it all.

          There 's something about an old truck, they don't have to shine to get attention.

          Saw a great t-shirt on a guy at a street rod event some time back said, "I spent all my money on old cars and beer. My wife wasted the rest of it".

Merritt's '46 1/2-Ton and '53 3/4-Ton


Why fret? Do BOTH!!!

By Earnest Nickell

          Found your site and read this article.  First off, so glad to find a place where Old Chev Truck is spoken.  I can relate to this dilemma but before you restore guys get antsy read on. 

          Where to begin, for me it was a hot summer day in '96. I was going to my favorite fishin' hole and there out of the corner of my eye, I saw it.  Sittin' 'bout a half mile off this old two-lane highway in a Virginia farmer's field was what looked to be a mid-fifties Chevy.  Turned out to be a 2nd series '55. 

            One thing led to another and the next week I was towing it home.  Got it running (sorta kinda) but was not pleased with what I had.  Wanted to street rod the thing so here I go. 

          Pulled the engine. Talked my brother out of a 1967 327 Corvette motor with double hump heads and a 350 automatic from an old Impala, I think.  Took the cab off and set it on a '77 Chevy half-ton frame. Wheels all match now and I have disc brakes on the front.  Found a good used '95 late model step side bed that looks like it was made for it.   '50's all the way around, needs to come down about 2 or 3 inches but it's got a nice stance to it now. 

          After a long period, it kinda got lost on the back burner.  I really missed the feel behind the wheel of these old horses. 

          Good news though, this spring I found a '56 Chevy, 3200 (yeah, that's a long bed) half ton that I'm keeping original. 

          That I've got one I can drive and one I can restore has made all the difference.  These original trucks are just a pure pleasure to drive.  Maybe that's the answer for the Restore or Rod guys. I know that now that I have both. I've been tinkering with both.  Kinda like havin' two wives (if you know what I mean). 

          I'd say, "Better to Rod than Rust and better to Restore than Dust."
Nickell's '56 3200

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