For me, it all started way before the build of this truck with the interest, love affair, passion, and some would call insanity of Hot Rodding. When I was a kid I'd collect the Rat Fink bubble gum cards and would be glued to the TV when ABC's Wide World of Sports would show drag races. The passion wasn't just regulated to trucks but when I turned 15 my uncle gave me a `48 Chevy 1/2 ton. Although it came out of a field, full of rust and not running, it was one of the most exciting gifts I have ever received. Reality soon set in and because I didn't have a steady job and the resources to make it run, this dream was put on hold.
But the seed was planted. I'd own another `48 when I turned 17, then a Camaro when Patty and I were married in 1981. I could no longer work out of the Camaro and would cringe every time I saw Patty's Pinto in the driveway. Needless to say, the Pinto was sold and this `56 Chevy was purchased as my work truck. In 1982, it received a rebuilt 350 with a TH400 transmission and it made for a pretty good driver. Fast forward to 1995, we still had the truck along with two kids.
The truck hadn't been driven much and was in need to make it safe, so a Chrysler Cordova front end was installed along with power brakes. I wasn't very happy with the work done, so it still wasn't driven often. After six years of sitting, Patty said, "either you fix it the way you want it or you sell it." Well after years of hard work and raising kids, this was like giving a kid the keys to a candy store. We were in a position to finally do something with the truck that would be just what I wanted.
It was at this time I met Greg Parsley of Retro Rods. This guy had the same car disease as I had, only worse. We made a good match. After bringing him my plans and lots of pictures from local car shows and CLASSIC TRUCKS magazine, a build plan was put together and started. My son Kevin was 16 at the time. He helped with his input and labor on scraping the frame and he even built the gas tank. The build took little over two years in total. The frame was straightened and reinforced, then powdercoated. That same Chrysler front end was refreshed and a Posi rear-end with a 3.55 gear ratio was installed. The 350 got a new rebuild with Holly aluminum heads, manifold and 750-cfm carburetor, Manetti roller rockers and valve springs, Mooneyes air cleaner, Bill's Hot Rod brackets, and a Be-Cool Radiator.
While the chassis was being perfected, bodywork was started. Rust was cut out and new metal was molded in its place, the door handles were shaved and all the emblems were removed to produce a very clean look. A new bed was purchased from Mar-K. There are over 400 hours into the bodywork to make the fit-and-finish of this truck one of the best I've ever seen. Since I am in the hardwood floor business, I felt the bed wood needed to stand out. I chose African Sapele for its color, figuring, and stability. Polished aluminum bed stripes were used that have hidden channel bolts. The tires are Toyo Proxes and the rims are 17- and 18-inch Slaters from Colorado Custom.
The interior of our truck had to be very comfortable, as this truck was going to be driven. After searching local junkyards with a measuring tape in hand, I came across a rear seat from a GMC Safari Van that seemed a perfect fit. Now there was a phrase that kept coming up in our project that went, "Well, as long as you've gone this far..." So a quality interior shop was found and it was Dave Hammick's Hogland's Top Shop. Dave has a good eye for color and material and we chose a two-toned color scheme of medium brown and dark blue for the leather seats, a blue carpet and headliner, and the brown leather for the lower dash. The gauges are from Classic Instruments, the wiring from Ron Francis. The steering column is from a `77 Chevy van, and the air conditioning from Vintage Air. The tunes are brought together from Kenwood, JL Audio, and Diamond Audio.
The efforts of a handful of talented people, especially Greg Parsley, along with the support of a more than understanding wife have brought together not just a fine looking and great running truck, but the culmination of a dream started a long time ago as a kid.
FACTS & FIGURES
Dan & Patty Caufman
1956 Chevy Pickup
| CHASSIS |
|Frame ||stock |
|Modifications ||Retro-Rods Inc., Lynnwood, WA |
|Rearend / Ratio ||stock / 3.55 posi |
|Rear suspension ||No Limit mono-leaf |
|Rear brakes ||stock drum |
|Front suspension ||Chrysler Cordoba clip |
|Front wheel make, size ||Colorado Custom Slater, 17x7 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Colorado Custom Slater, 18x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||Toyo Proxes, 245/45ZR17 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Toyo Proxes, 275/40ZR18 |
|Gas tank ||custom aluminum by Kevin Caufman |
| ENGINE |
|Year and make ||'79 Chevy 350 |
|Camshaft ||Lunati Systemax II |
|Heads ||Holley Systemax II |
|Valve covers ||Cal Custom |
|Manifold / Induction ||Holley / Holley Street Avenger 750 / K&N |
|Ignition / Wires ||MSD HEI |
|Headers ||RB's obsolete |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||custom 2.5" / Flowmaster |
|Other ||Bill's Hot Rod brackets |
| TRANSMISSION || |
|Make and model ||GM TH400 |
|Modifications ||Saturday Night Special by Sunshine Auto |
|Shifter ||on column |
| BODY |
|Body style / Material ||pickup, all steel |
|Manufacturer ||Chevrolet |
|Modifications ||shaved emblems |
|Hood ||stock, shaved |
|Grille ||new chrome |
|Bed ||Mar-K, custom African Supele by owner |
|Bodywork and Paint by ||Retro-Rods Inc., Lynnwood, WA |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / GM Indigo Blue |
|Headlights / Taillights ||stock, '33 Ford from RB's Obsolete |
|Bumpers ||stock, Mar-K roll pan |
| INTERIOR |
|Dashboard ||filled, smoothed & paint-matched |
|Gauges ||Classic Instruments |
|Air conditioning ||Vintage Air |
|Steering wheel ||Grant wood banjo |
|Steering column ||'77 Chevy Van |
|Wiring ||Ron Francis Wireworks |
|Seat ||rear from '98 GMC Safari |
|Material / Color ||custom weathered leather |
|Stereo ||Kenwood KDC869, JL Audio, Diamond Audio |
|Upholstery & Stereo ||Hoglund's Top Shop, Everett, WA |