It wasn't too long ago that there was very little, if any, deviation from the "traditional" flame job. Of course, you had your "seaweed" or "crab-claw" styles, but those aren't far from the good old-fashioned licks we've become accustomed to for decades. Even towards the end of the '90s, we saw what some youngins call "tribal" flames, but here again, they do not deviate much from the norm.
With the new millennium has come numerous advancements in paint technology and application--including flames! In the same token of saying Von Dutch (the real one, Kenneth Howard, not the rip-off clothing line!) was the father of modern pinstriping, it's probably safe to say that Mike LaValle (Killer Paint) is the modern father of flames. Viewers of Monster Garage (or more precisely, fans of Jesse James) should be familiar with LaValle's work, as it has covered everything from the shells of Top Fuel race helmets to chopper tanks to brand-new Chevy Silverados. We knew it wouldn't be long until the "realistic" flame craze caught on, and just as soon as those words left our mouths, we stumbled upon Todd Boatright's '55 Chevy from Tuttle, Oklahoma.
Obviously, it was the crazy flame job that immediately caught our attention, which of course drew us in for a better look. Upon further inspection, we realized that we were in the midst of one finely done pick-'em-up truck! First, we asked about the unusual "licks," and Todd was quick to credit Charles "The Kid" Armstrong for the "fire graphics" (as he prefers to call them). Boatright continued, "I had just built a '00 Silverado; it was red with fire graphics. I wanted to bring the same ideas to the '55 and transform it into a hot rod truck." The '55 was purchased as an in-progress driver that Todd stumbled upon while looking at a perspective '57 project truck (which was a bit too rusty for his tastes).
Todd recalls, "I started gathering custom parts together and began working on the body. I have lost count as to how many nights and weekends I have spent on this truck. I know that when I get an idea of what I want it [the truck] to look like, I don't seem to think about time; I just keep pushing to the end. I have been building cars and trucks for about 25 years, and I have a great amount of respect for custom builders. The best part for me is when I can cruise around town and go to shows with what I have built, and people tell me they like my work. I was able to finish my truck just in time for the Goodguys Texas show; it felt good to be done with this truck and just relax!" Well, it was probably even better when Todd not only became one of the final five for Truck of the Year, but a CLASSIC TRUCKS Top Ten recipient at Fort Worth, as well!
As Boatright mentioned, the '55 was bought as a driver. Actually, it was a bit more than just your "average driver," as it already has a late-model drivetrain and suspension, so no major chassis surgery was necessary. Todd did opt to swap out the small-block 350 for a stouter 454 plucked from a '72 1-ton--behind which he kept the stock Turbo 400 in tow. As for the suspension, the chassis features an '85 CK-series subframe with DJM spindles, Nitro shocks, and Air Ride Technologies 'bags. The rear portion features a custom four-link on a 3.83 Posi 9-inch, also with Air Ride adjustable ride-height equipment (modifications handled by the owner and Modern Customs). For braking, Todd chose discs at all four corners controlled by an under-floor RB's Obsolete Vette master with an 8-inch booster. Steering is stock ('85, of course) GM power.
With the foundation up to his standards, Todd turned toward the body. It was about to receive a healthy makeover, to say the least, even though it may be hard to tell from the first casual observance--especially with the door handles intact! Nevertheless, here's what Boatright put himself (and friends Bill Barnes and Steve Cook) through in a measly year and a half period: flip front hood with No Limit hinges; one-piece door glass; welded-together bed with hydraulic-lift Mar-K bed wood; flush-fit LED taillights in a seamless rolled pan; shaved cowl; and on and on. Todd coated the collaborative handiwork in BASF Bright Red, after which The Kid (who, by the way, is located in Prescott, AZ) did his thing with the airbrush--creating the fire graphics that trickle off through the doors. Literally wrapping the exterior up is a set of Michelin Pilots (225/40 and 275/35) clenching a quartet of Billet Specialties VinTecs offset in 18- and 20-inch diameters. After doing his thing with the interior structure--smoothed dash center section, console, etc.--Todd enlisted Advantage Audio in Norman, Oklahoma, to construct custom door and kick panels to accommodate an Eclipse/JL Audio/Infinity sound system that'll rock your ears off! After that, Upholstery Unlimited (Oklahoma City, OK) was called on to perform their magic. Using sandstone Alante to cover not only a bucket-back bench seat but the custom paneling as well, the interior does a lot more than just complement the exterior! Todd threw in a GM tilt column with a Billet Accessories Direct wheel, Vintage Air, and Dakota Digital instrumentation for a finishing touch.
On top of all the help from his circle of friends (including Jeremy English, Auto Trendz OKC, and Pleasures Trucks & Compacts), Todd greatly credits his wife Geri for making project possible--actually, it's more like having the patience and allowing Todd to finish!!!
|Facts & Figures|
|Todd and Geri Boatright|
|Modifications||'85 1/2-ton clip, heavily notched/braced rear|
|Rearend / Ratio||Ford 9-inch Posi / 3.83:1|
|Rear suspension||custom four-link, Air Ride with nitrous|
|Rear brakes||Ford disc|
|Front suspension||'85 Chevy, DJM spindles, Nitro shocks, Air Ride|
|Front brakes||GM disc|
|Steering box||GM power|
|Front wheel make, size||Billet Specialties VinTec, 18x7|
|Rear wheel make, size||Billet Specialties VinTec, 20x10|
|Front tire make, size||Michelin Pilot, 225/40ZR18|
|Rear tire make, size||Michelin Pilot, 275/35ZR20|
|Gas tank||custom-made aluminum|
|Year and make||'72 Chevy big-block|
|Valve covers||Billet Specialties|
|Manifold / Induction||Edelbrock Performer RPM / Performer 750|
|Exhaust / Mufflers||3" / Flowmaster|
|Modifications||Master Tec Transmission|
|Fenders front / rear||stock / stock, molded in|
|Hood||stock, nosed, No Limit forward hinges|
|Bed||molded to fenders, Mar-K wood|
|Bodywork and paint by||owner, Bill Barnes, Steve Cook|
|Paint type / Color||BASF / Bright Red|
|Graphics flames by||Charles Armstrong|
|Headlights / Taillights||tri-bar / Hi-Tec LED|
|Bumpers||stock front, rolled rear pan|
|Air conditioning||Vintage Air|
|Steering wheel||Billet Accessories Direct|
|Steering column||GM tilt|
|Upholstery by||Upholstery Unlimited|
|Material / Color||Alante / sandstone|
|Carpet||tan wool |