Who likes a challenge (and we're not talking about math tests here, we're talking about building trucks)? John Mathieu, like many of us, loves this breed of endeavor, and that's what spurred his interest in building his latest project. But this was soon to be a ground-up venture the likes of which John has never had the pleasure of undertaking. Around eight years ago, a friend told John about a guy just outside of his hometown of Western Springs, Illinois, who had a few Advance Design Chevy pickups for sale, which was right up John's alley, and he soon hauled home a rough cab, doors, front clip, and frame. It seems you can't be too picky in this part of the country when it comes to rust, and it almost gives you something to do during the long winters.

Some things are learned the hard way, and while John confesses that if he were to do this again he'd build his own frame, he spent more time than he cares to admit massaging the old 'rails. He removed all the rivets in the stock frame, which is a task in and of itself, then stripped it of all its brackets before dropping it off for sandblasting. John soon took the revirginized steel and boxed the front and rear sections, C-notched the rear, and installed the RB's Obsolete Mustang II complete with GM 11-inch discs, Heidt's dropped spindles, springs, and shocks. RB's also had the new leaf springs John needed in the rear to hold the Ford 9-inch at home under the Mar-K steel bed and BeBop's 'glass fenders that would eventually house the American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels.

Reliable motor-vation soon came via a Goodwrench 350 crate motor backed by a stout 700-R4 that TPI Performance in Hammond, Indiana, went through. The small-block is topped by an Edelbrock Performer intake and 600-cfm carb combo, and in the spirit of keeping things simple yet effective, John retained the stock exhaust manifolds. Where you'd normally find chrome in the engine bay, like on the pulleys and valve covers, John opted for a silver header coating, which makes for a unique and clean look under the hood.

On the sheetmetal side of things, the plot thickened-or rusted out, depending on how you look at it. Rust was everywhere, and John spent a considerable amount of time reversing Mother Nature's work, and if that wasn't enough of a chore, he also tucked in the front bumper; shaved the hood emblem, door handles, and tailgate chains; installed flush-mount locks and a third brake light in the Gaylord's tonneau cover; and fitted a late-model steel bed floor into the new Mar-K bed. After getting quite chummy with the welder and grinder, John was ready for the next step and figured he'd try his hand at his first full-scale paintjob with help from good friend Dan Puscheck. They had settled on an unusual color for the Chevy-'50 Ford F-1 Meadow Green. The subtle shade of green would prove to provoke the most intrigue from onlookers more than any other aspect of the '51, which made all the headaches and time spent on the paint well worth it.