It's no secret that painting your pickup black can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, black rides are the epitome of cool-hot rodders have always loved the look of "basic black." But the curse is that glossy black paint magnifies any and all body imperfections, while car show judges and magazine editors often bypass black trucks in favor of the "arrest-me red" machines sitting around them.
With that said, it's hard to argue with Gary and Sue Eisenhower's color selection on this '46 Chevy. The truck just looks right, and the quality is evident the first time you look at the mirror-like finish. What's even more cool is the fact that the more you look, the more you discover that this black beauty isn't so "basic" after all.
Though the Chevy's exterior may seem simple at first, bodyman Tony Nardi (Nardi's Rod & Custom) will be the first to assure you that it took a ton of time and effort to bring the fit up to modern standards and get everything straight enough to accept the PPG black paint. Not only that, but there are a bunch of subtle styling mods to be found. For example, the headlight buckets have been shortened and welded to the fenders, with small signal lights frenched in just below. The cowl vent is also filled, there's a flush-fit V-butt windshield, and a flush third brake light is integrated into the body line on the rear of the cab.
Around back, the Mack Products bed has seen its share of modifications, too. Kerry Hopperstad fabricated the stake pocket extensions and rolled bed rail corners (both front and rear) that help give the bed a more finished look. He also built the rolled pan, which is fitted with a quartet of '50 Pontiac taillights. Above that you'll find a smooth tailgate with an embossed Bow-Tie emblem. Even the bed wood got special treatment-black paint was thinned to the consistency of stain, applied to the white oak wood, then rubbed with steel wool and sealed with polyurethane. The finishing touch is the black Haartz cloth covering on the Checkmate tonneau cover.
Now that we've pointed out the exterior tricks, it shouldn't surprise you that the underside of this rig is just as slick. The talented crew at Ken's Street Rod Repair gets credit for building the chassis (and most of the rest of the truck), which features boxed frame rails, custom crossmembers, and a Heidt's independent front suspension. A 9-inch rearend sits on custom leaf springs out back, with a Rock Valley fuel tank mounted just behind it. Tony Nardi detailed and painted the frame and its components before the suspension was assembled and shod with Halibrand wheels and Michelin radials. Motivation comes from a GM Performance Parts ZZ4 crate engine covered with oodles of chrome. Even the exhaust is shiny, with ceramic coated Sanderson headers and a stainless exhaust built by Pat Oddo. A 700-R4 overdrive automatic resides behind the powerplant.
After bouncing around in the primitive stock interior for years (they've owned the pickup since '79) Gary and Sue now cruise in the luxury of Tahoe power seats covered in mushroom leather by Village Upholstery. The interior also has custom door panels, a JVC stereo in an overhead console, and VDO instruments in a modified dash. Power windows, a tilt wheel, and Vintage Air are just a few of the other creature comforts wired up by Ken's employee Jay Carter.
When the pickup finally came together after its four-year transformation, Gary and Sue had themselves a true black beauty. As a tribute to its excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail, the pickup has been earning trophies on a regular basis, proving that black trucks do get noticed by show judges-not to mention magazine editors.