"One of the most time-consuming parts of the project was figuring out the fitment of all the rearend sheetmetal. Behind the cab, all the tin is new pieces from MAR-K and Brothers. I started setting up everything by placing the crossmembers on the frame where they would line up with the original bolt holes. Then I had to fit the front bed panel on top of the forward crossmember and line up the bedsides. After that came the tailgate, the fenders, and then the running boards. The rear crossmember posed a great challenge because it absolutely did not fit. The license plate box on the roll pan hit the lower part, and the light boxes for the taillights hit the lower half as well. I ended up cutting the crossmember in half down the length, which would make it much weaker, so I sectioned up the drop piece, flipped it so it fit just right, and welded it back to my halved crossmember.
"Another challenge was the roll pan. I did not want the lights to have gaps around them and look like they had been installed improperly, so when I cut the slots for the lenses to fit into, I cut them about an 1/8-inch too small so I could trim the excess steel with a file instead of a cutoff wheel. I was determined to get the lenses set in the roll pan before I went to sleep that night, and I did, but by the time I closed up and turned off the lights, the sun was just coming up!
"Over the last summer, I worked nonstop on the truck as well as researching some different crate motor companies. I ordered a 450-horse LS1 from Turn Key Engine Supply. The owner, Kolby, recommended Keisler Engineering for a manual transmission. After reading a few articles and some web surfing, I ordered one of their PerfectFit 6-speed Double Overdrive kits. The original 235ci straight-six fit pretty well under the hood and between the fenders, but the new LS1 was a whole different story! I had to cut, shape, bend, stretch, and weld many pounds of sheetmetal to make it fit. The inner fenderwells required a peculiar amount of attention to get sorted out, but everything eventually came together in the end. The lower part of the toeboard took a bit of cutting as well, but nothing too serious.
"Currently, I'm getting the rest of the wiring loomed up and some details ironed out, and after I get sorted through the last little bit of knickknacks, I'm going to send it to Fred Harmeyer of Rosehill Paint & Body for some color. I should be on the road soon."
Malcolm has done a huge amount of metal work on his '54, and in his modesty he neglected to mention that he also shaved all the emblems and door handles, removed the hood strip, frenched in Hagan headlights and their Caddy-style taillights, filled in both cowl vents, installed one-piece door glass, and smoothed all the factory spot welds, to name a few more things. The Chevy rolls on 18-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs and BFGoodrich tires. Inside, he used '01 Camaro buckets, an '03 Dodge Stratus console, and RodDoor's door panels to round up the interior along with A/C from Classic Auto Air, Auto Meter gauges, and a column and wheel from Flaming River. Keep it up, Malcolm!