You could say that Lou Calasibetta is a Pontiac man, through and through. He owns some of the rarest models from the '40s, '50s, and, '60s including '57 and '58 Bonnevilles, a '57 two-door Safari Wagon, and a '57 Transcontinental--known to you custom aficionados as "Surfari." And those are not even the jewels of the collection. Lou is lucky enough to own not one but two of the original customs from the famed Alexander Brothers. In addition to the '56 Chevy "Golden Chariot," Lou also owns the recently restored '60 Pontiac "Golden Indian." With a collection like that, there's no disputing Lou's passion for Pontiacs. But what does a Pontiac man do when he wants to build a truck?

It just so happens that Lou located this super-rare '57 GMC Suburban Town & Country pickup (which was Pontiac-powered right from the factory) at a most convenient time. More often than not, the modern Pontiac dealerships are paired up with GMC outlets, helping to solidify a long-running connection between the two brands. Recently, the Pontiac club, of which Lou is a member and which throws one of the largest yearly gatherings of Pontiacs, decided to let GMC trucks in on the fun; this is when Lou decided to jump into the project with both feet and complete the truck.

To the best of Lou's research, there were only about 1,000 of these trucks ever built along with the "plentiful" Chevy Cameo. With a truck like that, Lou felt it necessary to build a truck that would include all the custom touches to feel right at home alongside his other vehicles but also be enough of a restoration to justify the rarity of the truck. In our humble opinions, Lou and the crew from his own Old Stillwater Garage nailed it!

For drivability's sake, the chassis was completely updated using components from Fatman Fabrications almost exclusively. A Mustang II coilover frontend was grafted on and set up with GM disc brakes. In the rear, a Fatman four-bar setup and a second pair of coilovers were used in conjunction with a GM 10-bolt rearend. The wheel and tire combo is what really brings the nostalgia back to this chassis. Chromed steelies were wrapped with wide white radials and topped with original GMC hubcaps. It's a simple approach yet one we've rarely seen. Since the Pontiac powerplant was the inspiration for this entire restoration, it had to be just right. A '70 block was bored to 360 ci and filled with stock components except for the 9.5:1 TRW pistons. The long-block was topped with items like the Edelbrock carb and intake as well as a Pertronix HEI and original Cal Custom valve covers. That air cleaner is a genuine dual-snorkel piece, but Lou popped off the snorkels and backed the openings with wire mesh. And those sections of round tubing that run from the firewall down to the frame? As far as Lou can tell, they were original equipment, so they stayed. The not-so-common, but very reliable, engine was backed by a tried and true 700-R4; when you combine that with the 3.08:1 rear gears and modern suspension, you have one serious freeway flyer!

While the exterior is mostly stock, Lou and the Old Stillwater Garage crew made just the right modifications to improve the overall look. The front grille emblem and gas door were the only items removed. The 'glass tailgate was rebuilt using steel, and the firewall and inner fenders were smoothed. The simple mods were followed by flawless bodywork to the cab and 'glass bedsides. Then the custom Copper-Orange Pearl was sprayed and accented inside and out entirely in cream. All of the stock trim was returned to the vehicle's exterior, along with a slick Ash bed floor from Bruce Horkey.

The interior sheetmetal was finished as smoothly as the exterior--even the inner cab seams were filled--before the dash was stocked with Haneline gauges in a Haneline engine-turned dash panel. A smaller version of a '55 Chevy car steering wheel tops a paint-matched ididit column. Jerry Ambrosi of Master Upholstery took it from there and found the perfect matching two-tone vinyl to cover his custom door panels and headliner as well as the Glide seat. He even built the one-off tonneau that sports the same copper and cream rolls and pleats, a finishing touch that really sets this '57 apart from the rest. Lou finished his rarer than rare '57 just in time to debut it at Goodguys Charlotte last October and almost missed the show thanks to a brave deer about 20 miles from his house. The truck went into hibernation for the winter, but now that summer is upon us, Lou enjoys his truck regularly when he's not working on his next project: a full custom '40 convertible. You can probably guess what brand it is.

Facts & Figures
   

Lou & Paulette Calasibetta

Stillwater, New Jersey

1957 Suburban Town & Country

CHASSIS  
Frame stock
Rearend / Ratio GM 10-bolt / 3.08:1
Rear suspension Fatman parallel 4-bar w/ coilovers
Rear brakes GM drum
Front suspension Fatman MII w/coilovers
Front brakes GM disc
Steering box power rack-and-pinion
Suspension by Old Stillwater Garage
Wheel make, size Early Wheel, 15x7 chrome steelies w/ stock caps
Tire make, size Coker wide white radials, 225/75/R15
Gas tank No Limit stainless under bed
ENGINE  
Year, make, disp. '70 Pontiac 360
Camshaft Pontiac 068
Heads Pontiac #16
Valve covers Cal Custom
Manifold / Induction Edelbrock Performer / Edelbrock 600 / modified dual snorkel
Ignition / Wires Pertronix HEI
Headers Pontiac Ram Air
Exhaust / Mufflers 2 1/4-inch Flowmasters
TRANSMISSION  
Make and model GM 700-R4
Modifications stock
Shifter on column
BODY  
Body style / Material pickup/steel w/ fiberglass bedsides
Modifications all seams filled
Hood stock
Grille stock w/filled emblems
Bed Ash bed wood by Bruce Horkey, custom steel tailgate
Tonneau custom built w/ matching upholstery
Bodywork and paint by Dave, Jim, & Craig at Old Stillwater Garage
Paint type / Color DuPont / Copper-Orange Pearl & Cream
Headlights / Taillights stock
Bumpers stock
INTERIOR  
Dashboard engine-turned insert by Haneline
Gauges Haneline Elite series
Air conditioning Vintage Air
Steering wheel scaled-down '55 Chevy
Steering column ididit
Seat Glide
Material / Color copper & cream vinyl
Carpet German loop
Head unit stock, converted to AM/FM with CD changer behind seat
Upholstery & Stereo by Jerry Ambrosi, Master Upholstery