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.
Tom Crosby of Warwick, Rhode Island, is 67 years young and has been busy building this '54 Chevy 1/2-ton panel truck for the last 10 years. He found it in a farmer's field rusting away for the last 30 years after it worked a very hard life as a plumber's truck. By the time Tom got it, it was rotted up to the firewall, and everyone thought he was nuts when he hauled it home.
The panel was rotted so badly, in fact, that Tom had to replace the frame, hood, all four fenders, and the running boards with parts from a donor truck, along with the entire length of the floor, all the body mounts, and the bottom of the doors both inside and out. Once he was done with all that, he sectioned the truck 3 1/2 inches!
Not content with stopping there, Tom chopped the Chevy 4 inches as well as widening the rear fenders 3 1/2 inches, which then necessitated pie-cutting the running boards to flow with the now fatter rear fenders. The '54 has a Fatman IFS, small-block 350, 700R-4 trans, and a late-'80s four-bar Trans AM rearend running a 2.76:1 gear that gets about 20 mpg, believe it or not. Tom also made sure to put disc brakes and Air Ride Technologies 'bags at each corner. Tom welded the panel's rear barn doors together. They now open hatchback-style, and the hood that used to open from the front now opens from the rear via a BMW hood latch. Out back, he made the custom rear roll pan that covers a Reese class-3 trailer hitch that rests behind the licensed tag mounted on a fuel door hinge, and yes, the panel will pull a small house. Tom did all the work on his panel, except the paint and glass work, which is nothing to be ashamed of! Keep it up, kid!