Would you trade a TV for an old truck? Most of us would without even knowing too many details! About 25 years ago, that's what Pete Fries gave his father, Al, for his '56 GMC, since Al was gonna sell it to buy a new television set. Pete didn't think he had much of a choice but to keepthe '56-it was part of the family. Al bought it new for his personal transportation, to haul motorcycles, and for the three service stations he owned and operated. Remember, this was back when service stations actually worked on vehicles, so the truck saw lots of use carrying stranded passengers and the parts to make them mobile again.
Al retired and didn't use the truck much, and that's when he swapped it for the TV. Al taught Pete to drive stick in the old Jimmy, and Pete didn't know it at the time, but he'd also teach his own son, David, to drive with the three-on-the-tree, too. Over the next 20 years, Pete and his neighbors would use the truck for everything a truck is built for, including the unexpected. In '94, the Northridge earthquake rocked parts of California, including the Fries' home. As they rebuilt their house for the next two years, all the hauling chores landed square on the GMC's broad shoulders.
In '02, long after the dust cleared, the old truck was finally in need of some sort of attention to keep it on the road. Since David was a wide-eyed teen, he and his dad took on the father/son duties of rebuilding and customizing. With his youthful exuberance, David dismantled the '56 in a week's time while the two formulated a plan. The truck would have to be a clean custom while maintaining reliable driving sensibilities-they weren't building any sort of trailer queen.
The guys handed the chassis over to Tri-C Engineering in Valencia, California, to have the front of the frame boxed before the Total Cost Involved crossmember was welded in. The IFS got topped off with their 11-inch disc brakes, Bilstein coilovers, rack-and-pinion steering, and a chrome package for added class. In the back, a TCI 9-inch rearend is held between the fenders with a TCI leaf kit to smooth out the ride. Pete got a '02 GM ZZ4 355-cubic-inch crate motor and a TH400 tranny from nearby Ace Automotive. The potent small-block is dressed with an Edelbrock Air Gap intake, Holley 750 double-pumper, Hooker headers, Moroso valve covers, and a K&N air filter. The better-than-new undercarriage was put back together by Jenson Engine and Suspension with help from Pete and David.
With the chassis and drivetrain a sure bet, it was on to the House of Customs in Lancaster, California, for body and paintwork. This is where Pete and David really wanted the truck to shine, no pun intended. They hoped the longbed would stand out in a crowd, and not because it's a longbed. So the stock-yet-wild GMC front end was retained and would even get painted in the end, while the back side would have a Mar-K roll pan, a smooth tailgate, and Hagan flush-mount taillights installed. The factory steel was shaved of its door handles, antenna, and stake pocket holes before the PPG Quetzal Green Metallic and pearl white was laid down. If that wasn't enough, David mustered up the guts to add his own ghost flames to the green. To round out the exterior, the bed was filled with an ash wood kit by Bruce Horkey, a Brothers top-fill aluminum tank was stashed under the bed to eliminate the smelly stock tank behind the seat, and last but not least are the American Racing 16- and 18-inch Hopster wheels and Dunlop tires.
Open a door and things keep getting better! Randy's in Lancaster made the custom bucket seats, door panels, and flamed headliner, then wrapped it all in Arctic leather and suede for an ultra-clean look. The smoothed stock dash is filled with Classic Instruments gauges with relocated power window and wiper controls. Elsewhere in the cockpit is a polished ididit tilt column, Billet Specialties Chicanye steering wheel, and one-piece door glass. Randy's also installed the Sirius radio, 10-disc CD changer, amp, and subwoofer to keep the guys humming as they cruise California's Central Coast.
We met Pete and David at the Chevy/GMC Nationals show in Santa Maria last March, which happened to be the '56's first show and photo shoot. Congratulations, guys, we're sure your neighborhood automotive supervisors are proud!
|Facts & Figures|
|Modifications:|| front 'rails boxed by Tri-C|
|Rearend / Ratio:|| Ford 9" from TCI|
|Rear suspension:|| TCI leaf springs|
|Rear brakes:|| Ford drum|
|Front suspension:|| TCI Mustang II IFS|
|Front brakes:|| TCI 11" disc|
|Steering box:|| rack-and-pinion|
|Front wheels:|| American Racing Hopster 16"|
|Rear wheels:|| American Racing Hopster 18"|
|Front tires:|| Dunlop 215/55ZR16|
|Rear tires:|| Dunlop 255/45ZR18|
|Gas tank:|| Brothers aluminum, under bed|
|Shocks:|| Pete & Jake's shocks, Bilstein coilovers|
|Engine:|| '02 GM ZZ4 355cid|
|Valve covers:|| Moroso|
|Manifold / Induction:|| Edelbrock Air Gap / Holley 750cfm|
|Headers:|| Hooker block hugger|
|Exhaust / Mufflers:|| custom 2 1/2" / Flowmaster Hushpower II|
|Transmission:|| '00 TH-400|
|Shifter:|| ididit on the column|
|Style:|| 1/2-ton 100|
|Modifications:|| shaved, smoothed, one-piece door glass|
|Fenders front / rear:|| stock steel|
|Grille:|| stock painted|
|Bed wood:|| Ash by Bruce Horkey's|
|Bodywork and paint by:|| House of Customs, Lancaster, CA|
|Paint type / Color:|| PPG / Quetzal Green Metallic and white pearl|
|Flames by:|| owner|
|Headlights / Taillights:|| Headwinds / Hagen flush-mount|
|Bumper:|| stock front|
|Roll pan:|| Mar-K rear|
|Gauges:|| Classic Instruments|
|Air conditioning:|| none|
|Stereo:|| Kenwood 10-CD by Randy's, Lancaster, CA|
|Steering wheel:|| Billet Specialties|
|Steering column:|| ididit tilt and polished|
|Seats:|| custom buckets|
|Upholstery by:|| Randy's|
|Material / Color:|| leather and suede / Arctic|
|Carpet:|| Tundra Beige|