In a sea of candies, pearls, and chrome, it's tough to stand out from the crowd; however, at Goodguys' 2006 Northwest Nationals, one pickup really caught our attention. With its navy blue body, black fenders, and near-stock stance, it was actually pretty nondescript, but it had a certain quality that quietly beckoned. Furthermore, the closer we looked, the more it rewarded us with near obsessive detailing and conscientious modifications.
Most people would probably wonder why someone would go to all that trouble to build something typical car show crowds overlook. Then again, Doug Leibrant isn't trying to please any crowds. The group he's used to impressing is considerably smaller and far tougher to impress: Pebble Beach judges.
Even though he admits falling for the '37 Chevrolet design decades ago, this particular truck beckoned to him, too. "I found it hard to leave," he said. "The more I looked, the better I liked it...very few bolts or screws had been turned since it came from the factory."
Despite the seller's rather dear asking price, this pickup proved worthy of an AACA restoration, as Doug found out during disassembly. His initial observations bore truth, as the pickup effortlessly yielded buckets of untouched hardware and virgin, shiny tin. I won't bore you with the details of a straightforward restoration, so let me relay what I think makes it unique.
The truck's color is stock Boatswain Blue and Black, and even though Doug says he laments not painting the body with a base/clear process, the single-stage DuPont formula doesn't look inappropriately shiny for a restoration, as most base/clear jobs do.
The pickup's interior is equally detailed. Instead of spraying the cab panels body color, Doug commissioned Northwest Powder Coatings, Inc. in SeaTac to replicate Chevrolet's brown wrinkle finish in powder. While he restored the stock instruments, he replaced the oil pressure and ammeter with higher-capacity '37 GMC pieces. Cedardale Auto Upholstery's Paul Reichlin reskinned the bench in appropriate vinyl; Doug equipped it with '40s accessory Greenfield Co. belts. Other goodies include an NOS heater and a '70s Realistic FM radio detailed to match the cab.
Since the early Stovebolt engines lack full crankshaft oiling, insert bearings, and displacement, Doug rebuilt a later 235 circa '60. While it's stock internally, it has a number of external go-fast goodies, including a vintage Edelbrock 2x1 manifold. In period fashion, he split the exhaust manifold and plumbed it to dual 2-inch pipes, each with its own glass-packed muffler.
The stock trans sports improved '41 gears, and the rearend spins a stronger hypoid-style 4.11:1 ring-and-pinion; however, it's the BorgWarner overdrive spliced into the torque tube between them that makes this truck a real driver. "The performance far exceeded my expectations," Doug notes, adding, "The noise factor greatly decreased, too!" Up front, Doug removed a few leaves to give the truck the right stance and added NOS Delco dual-action shocks to improve control and ride characteristics. The artillery-style wheels are stock, yet not to this application; they're desirable 15x5 1/2 hoops for cars rather than the 16x4 pie-cutters the truck came with.
If you're still unconvinced of this truck's legitimacy, consider the following: Doug used very few reproduction parts in its restoration-in fact, one key still operates the ignition, glovebox, door, and spare-tire locks. Of all the pristine hardware that came off this pickup, every bit went back on, either plated or coated in its original finish. In fact, a few items, like one of the taillight bezels, still wear the surfaces applied to them back when FDR was in office. Not even the most ardent restorer could knock the truck's modifications, either, for the parts Doug used were common during this truck's first life, even if some of the combinations weren't.
As a result of its understatement, Doug Leibrant's pickup appeals to a very discerning and historically aware group, and admittedly that is a very select group. Does it bother Doug? Nah-it's the way he likes it. Anyway, all that candied, pearled, and chromed stuff looks the same after a while.
Facts & Figures
1937 Chevy 1/2-ton
|Frame: stock |
Rearend / Ratio: stock / 4.11:1
Rear suspension: stock leaf-over
Rear brakes: stock drum
Front suspension: stock leaf-over
Front brakes: stock drum
Steering box: stock
Wheels: Kelsey-Hayes artillery-style,
Tires: radial, 235/75R15
Gas tank: stock
|Engine: 1960 235cid L-6 |
Rocker cover: early 216 two-bolt
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock 2x1
/ dual Carter W-1
Ignition: Delco variable-timed
Exhaust / Mufflers: split manifolds,
2” pipe / dual glasspacks
Transmission: stock 4-speed
Modifications: BorgWarner overdrive
|Style: 1/2-ton pickup |
Fenders front / rear: stock
Bodywork and paint by: Doug Leibrant
Paint type / Color: DuPont /
Boatswain Blue & black
Headlights / Taillights: stock
Outside mirrors: modified Joma
thermometer-equipped w/accompanying passenger-side mirror
|Dashboard: stock |
Gauges: stock w/’37 GMC oil &
Stereo: reconditioned ’70s FM radio
Steering wheel: NOS ’37 Chevy
Steering column: stock
Seat: stock bench
Upholstery by: Cedardale Auto
Material / Color: vinyl / brown
Other interior items: OE-like wrinkle
finish by Northwest Powdercoating, Greenfield Co. seatbelts