It doesn't matter what you build, be it custom trucks or custom homes, there will always be a certain amount of trading involved-especially when dealing with friends. You know how it goes down: a plumber's in need of some bodywork on his old truck and his best friend, who owns a collision repair shop, just happens to need a re-pipe on his house. Sometimes the trades work out; other times, well, let's just say they're good at ending friendships. For Matt Beckdolt, a custom motorcycle builder in Northern California, it ended up working in his favor, even if he didn't intend it to.
A while back, Matt was building a bike for his neighbor. While they hadn't really discussed the terms of labor, Matt did express interest in purchasing a '56 Chevy pickup sitting in his neighbor's yard. When he completed the two-wheeled project, Matt wouldn't accept any monetary compensation for his time, so in return, his neighbor gave him the truck as a gift.
The first thing Matt did was deliver the truck to Roseville Rod & Custom. Owner Ben York got busy fabbing up an array of one-off custom aluminum items-namely a power steering/generator mount for the 235-while employee Paul Garland disassembled the truck and performed the necessary modifications. Next, it was over to Jason Haskin's Hot Rod Shop for bodywork and a satin black paint job.
After the truck was reassembled, it was delivered back to Matt. He'd decided against going through the engine, which turned out to be a bad move, as the old six-cylinder blew up on the truck's maiden voyage. Back to RR&C-the 235 was pulled and sent to Greggs Machine for a hi-po rebuild. Afterward, Jason painted the engine candy red metalflake, while Ben whittled up even more custom aluminum accessories-motor mounts, velocity stacks, fuel log, etc.
Once back together, Matt wasted no time getting behind the wheel for a test drive. Well, this time out, a faulty hood latch disengaged at 60 mph, ultimately damaging the cowl, firewall, fenders, visor, and roof. Ironically, Matt had wanted a red 'flake roof from the get-go, so in a twisted way, it was sort of a fortunate accident! Trying to replace the '56's hood turned out to be the hardest part, so they settled on using a later '58 hood that donated its center to swap out for the damaged section. During the repair stage, it was mutually agreed that a ribbed aluminum bumper would suit the truck, so Ben not only created that, but he also fashioned a custom "frenched" valance panel as well. Beyond that, he machined even more finned items: housings for a pair of '56 MG lenses, tailpipe tips, and rearview mirrors.
Inside of Matt's pickup, you can find even more of Ben's crafty aluminum work. The steering wheel, redone by Quality Restorations (including the reduced diameter), features a custom-made horn button; the column drop perfectly matches the pedals previously made in the initial build stage; and the dash knobs are anything but OEM. All the polished items (given their shine by Jesse Miller) are nicely offset by a black and red tuck 'n' roll bench seat.
Thankfully, Matt's third attempt to put his truck on the road was the charmer. Moreover, he and everyone responsible for the final results were rewarded for their efforts at the Sacramento Autorama, where the truck was awarded Best Engine. That may have been the icing on the cake for most, but it's probably safe to say that Matt's just as happy to finally have his truck on the road.