My great-grandfather purchased this truck in 1953 from a Cincinnati Oldsmobile dealership where it was being used as parts truck and to push cars around in the lot. He took the truck home to his farm in Harrison, Ohio, and there he used it to haul chickens and eggs or produce to the local market. It was a big help to him for a lot of years. Before he passed away, he handed the truck down to his son.
My grandfather really enjoyed the truck. He drove it quite frequently delivering aluminum cans and cardboard boxes to the recycling center. He also liked to take me for rides around town when I was young. Eventually, he too passed away, and the truck sat in the rear of my grandmother's garage where it was kept safe and sound. My father liked to pull it out once in awhile and drive it around on nice days. He also kept up with all the general maintenance on it, so it remained in pretty good condition.
Since about 1991, I was a full-fledged mini-trucker and the '53 was about the farthest thing from my mind. I built and showed a custom Suzuki Sidekick called Tazuki and brought it to just about every truck show in Ohio and Indiana and as far south as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I spent the next several years working on the Suzuki and collecting trophies until 1999. That year, after winning a Best Truck award at a local show, the truck caught fire and burnt to the ground. The Tazuki was destroyed. My grandmother heard about the fire and decided to give the '53 to me so I could get back into showing trucks.
I was overwhelmed but excited to work on our family heirloom. With only 55,000 original miles, the '53 was still in pretty good condition, but there was minor rust in the lower panels and running boards. For that reason, it wasn't long before the entire truck was totally dismantled. It took a lot of help from my friends at Taylor's Performance Center and the Midwest Creationz truck club, but slowly the '53 started to come together.
The frame was fit with a Fatman frontend, and the leaves in back were scrapped in favor of a triangulated four-link. All four corners were fit with an airbag setup from Air Ride Technologies and disc brakes from Master Power before chromed steelies with smoothie caps and Coker wide whites were fit to the chassis. The drivetrain was updated beginning with a '98 Chevy Vortec 350 topped with an Edelbrock polished intake and carb that was dressed up with tons of goodies from Mooneyes. The 350 was backed by a tried-and-true 350 turbo trans and GM 10-bolt rearend from a '75 Nova.
Parts were collected from numerous Chevy parts houses before getting the truck ready for paint. Lots of body mods were performed as well. The bed was smoothed and shaved, and a raised floor was built from steel. The tailgate was smoothed over, and a license box was frenched in. The door handles were shaved and '59 Cad taillights were frenched into the rear fenders. A Hagan fuel fill door was grafted onto the cab corner, and the hood was welded and smoothed before Dan Jauch shot the deep metallic blue Dupont paint. The bumpers, grille, and a few other goodies were rechromed before they were reinstalled onto the truck.
The nostalgic theme was driven home in the interior of the five-window. The dash was smoothed and painted and filled with Dolphin gauges, while the painted ididit column was topped with a '59 Impala steering wheel. Mid-'70s Monte Carlo swivels were topped with high-back buckets recovered with white tuck-and-roll upholstery, and the rest of the interior was covered to match.
After 50 years, the old truck still remains a part my family's history. Just for fun, my girlfriend Shannon and I drove the truck to the Mini Truckin' Nationals in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Wouldn't you know I got First Place in the full-size truck category. These days, I carry a fire extinguisher.