When did I actually lose control?" That's what Roger and Cheryl Ward keep asking themselves every time they look at their gorgeous '64 Chevy pickup.
Roger is a custom painter with a respected reputation, and about three years ago he started looking for a shop truck, something kind of cool to be an everyday driver. The word was out, and soon longtime friend Kenny Baker called-he had found a better-than-average running and driving '64 Chevy shortwide. A deal was struck, and the fleetside found itself in Roger's shop for a few minor adjustments to make it a reliable shop truck.
If you know Roger, then you know he can't just go halfway with any project, especially when it's something he will be driving. The project started by lowering the truck's altitude. Roger feels "bags" are for groceries, so when it came time to lower the truck, the stock chassis was reworked starting with a pair of 3-inch dropped spindles. Shorter coils were then thrown in, and the chassis was updated with parts from a '74 1/2-ton, adding power steering and disc brakes. The front crossmember was moved up 2 1/2 inches with ball joints from the same late-model mounted to the stock control arms.
Moving to the rear, a Ford 9-inch was mounted to a pair of '91 Dodge pickup rear leaf springs. To make room for the suspension, the bed floor was raised 5 inches by Eric Yohe, who handles chassis work in Roger's shop. The chromies are Wheel Vintiques' Smoothies, with cones and beauty rings added for a simple look. Goodyear thin-whitewall 16-inch radials front and rear give the truck that slight rake for a perfect stance.
While work on the chassis was in progress, the engine was sent to Dennis Millert in Kansas City, Kansas, for a total rebuild (Specialty Automotive handled the machine work). Now this isn't just a stock crate engine-Dennis performed his magic by transforming a '76 Chevy 350 into a very warm 383. Speed Pro pistons were connected to an Eagle crank via a set of stock rods. A Crane Power Max cam along with a set of Vortec heads make all the power this little truck needs. An Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold with a 650-cfm carburetor and a set of Speedway headers move the gases through custom-bent tubes and Summit turbo mufflers. All this is sparked by an HEI ignition and MSD wires. A 2004R was also reworked with a mild shift kit before taking its place behind the new engine.
While the motor was out for rework and the chassis was being modified, Roger concentrated on straightening the body. All the emblems were removed for a cleaner look, but the only major body modification Roger made was dropping the front fender lip 2 inches to reduce the wheel opening. The grille was swapped for a '61 model, and stock bumpers from LMC were also added, along with a '57 Chevy car mirror. After Roger massaged the body to perfection, he applied a PPG Silver Moss Green metallic.
The final step was finishing the interior. Sam Wright of Hot Rod Interiors in Baldwin, Kansas, was called on to apply his craftsmanship. Sam custom-built the seat and door panels before covering them in silver Naugahyde. He also built large map pockets for storage to make up for the loss of the glove compartment due to the addition of the Vintage Air unit. A salt-and-pepper nylon loop carpet sets off the silver interior just right. Engine-turned vinyl film dresses up the dash panels along with a set of Auto Meter gauges, while Roger picked a Speedway Bell-type steering wheel for a vintage look.