We're spoiled by the relatively rust-free trucks in Southern California, but a quick trip to the South or Northwest is an eye-opener. Gary Wirkkala Jr. knows this firsthand since his family has owned the same Ilwaco, Washington-based shop since they built it in 1932. They restored the building in 2004, and Gary now runs it under the First Avenue Rods & Customs banner, where he built this '55 Chevy truck that was once rusted from the bottom up. Besides the rust, the truck came to the shop with a Nova clip with disc brakes and a ZZ4/TH350/10-bolt drivetrain used as a foundation for the rest of the build. After repairing the body rot, the front fenders were welded to the cab and rockers, a front roll pan was installed with scalloped reliefs for the park lights, the top of the vertical front fender/door gap under the windshield was curved, and all the emblems were shaved. The '55's rear half also got a custom roll pan, while the rear fenders were pie-cut and fit to blend into the roll pan. The rear stake pockets were moved and flushed with the tailgate, which uses modern pivot/lift-off hardware, while the front stake pockets were removed. Under the bed cover that Gary designed and friend Brian Koskela fabricated is a custom aluminum gas tank and white-washed oak bedwood that sandwiches stainless bed strips.
After all this fab work and more, Darrold Weekly finished the bodywork and topped it with DuPont's '05 Cobalt Red with brilliant silver accents, while Gary laid down the flames. A 3-inch exhaust and a set of Foose wheels wrap up the Chevy, which was recently sold to Sandy Welsh, who loves every square inch of Gary's handiwork!
If you have a Classic Cruiser and want to see it here, e-mail at least six high-resolution photos and background info to the e-mail address above, or mail prints to: Classic Trucks, Attn: Grant Peterson, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870.