Gary Morgan lives in Suffolk. Suffolk? For those of us who aren't world travelers, Suffolk is in England. Gary lives there with his wife and goes to work every day as a service engineer. However, like many of us his passion is something different than his career. His passion is building hot rods, something he has been doing for almost a quarter of a century. As it turned out it's a good thing Gary had so much practice, because when he picked up this rare '45 Chevy back in August of 1994 there was a lot to be done.
Gary not only bought a very rare truck (being that 1945 was during WWII and very few civilian vehicles were even built during this time), but it was also someone else's unfinished project. When he purchased the truck it had already been given a Mustang II frontend upgrade, but it was 1-1/2 inches out of true. Cutting out the front crossmember and setting it right was the start of a total ground-up rebuild.
The stock frame rails were strengthened using a Progressive Automotive X-members Out back the Chevy 10-bolt, which had come with truck, was relocated using leaf springs made up of both original Chevy and F-100 items. Volvo shock absorbers were added to keep the back from bouncing around to much while TCI coils and Monroe shocks were fitted to the Michael Thomas Enterprises crossmember (along with the fully rebuilt Mustang II parts) to handle the bumps up front. Stopping power for this rare piece of Detroit iron is provided by a pair of Texas Street Rods front disc brake calipers and stock Chevy drums out back.
The steering system is comprised of Borgeson joints, mating the rack-and-pinion to the Ford Escort column. The column bolted straight in to the original firewall without any modifications making it the only bolt-in swap Gary experienced with his '45. It is topped off by a Mountney steering wheel, although Gary has probably already replaced this as he had come into possession of a rare two-spoke rim from a Hemi Charger and was planning to use it instead.
The Project came with a tired old Chevy small-block, which Gary replaced with a 355-cube Goodwrench crate motor. To this Gary added an Edelbrock Performer intake and a 600cfm Holly carb. Igniting the mixture is spark from a Mallory dual point distributor and MSD coil, with the exhaust exiting through Hedman headers and a 2 1/2-inch custom exhaust. Gary gave the transmission - a TH350 - a good going over, Hardy Spicer took care of the driveshaft, and a Lokar shifter was chosen for gear selection.
When it came to the body it was apparent that whilst it was cosmetically okay, there was plenty of filler hidden under the paint. Gary began sorting things out before he handed the job over to the talented hands of Andy and Malcolm Jay, who run a paint shop on Mersea Island. Malcolm did the repair work, which included the fabrication of the bottom 3 inches of the doors and the re-fabrication of the beltine on the back of the cab. John Simons salvaged those front fenders while Gary and Tim Hammond fabricated a complete new pickup bed and custom tailgate from steel. The windshield frame was removed in favor of a bonded flush-fit unit, but retains a modified original center post. All the brightwork was re-chromed and the running boards were smoothed out before Andy Jay laid on a custom mix of Pearl Orange paint.
Inside the cab you'll find a pair of Citroen BX GTI seats which have been recovered along with the door panels and headliner by Geoff and Bin of GB Upholstery in Bury St. Edmonds. The gauges are VDO Cockpit items.
The truck was six years in the making and since its completion has been a hit on the European show circuit. We just knew you'd enjoy checking it out, as well.