What would you have bought for transportation back in 1954? For those of us who weren't there (or even close to being born), it's easy to say we would've bought a top-of-the-line Cadillac Eldorado, a rare Corvette, or a now ultra-desirable Porsche Speedster, right? Not too many enthusiasts would call out the short-lived '54 and '55 First-Series Chevy truck as their vehicle of choice, but maybe that's what sets them apart to this very day.
At a third of the price of a base-model Cadillac of the day, the '54 Chevy pickup truck cost a modest $1,400 and came standard with no-frills, utilitarian usefulness that most trucks of the time featured. If you wanted a little "luxury" with your Chevy, you might have ordered it with an AM radio and maybe a Hydra-Matic transmission.
Rod Eady knows good ol' American cars and trucks when he sees one, and the England native knew this '54 Chevy was a winner when he first came across her in the States back in the 1970s. Much to Rod's disappointment, the truck wasn't for sale back then, but he kept in touch with the owner, Lee Hatton, who was a retired police chief from Miami. Rod was granted first right of refusal should Lee decide to sell. Lee owned the truck for more than 20 years and often kept it at his vacation property in North Carolina. It had even been used in advertisements for Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, an Italian jean company, the '85 film The Genie, and also earned $50 a day to sit in the background of many scenes in the early '80s frat-comedy sequel Porky's II.
They say that patience is a virtue, and this proved to be true for Rod two decades after laying eyes on Lee's bone-stock '54 Chevy five-window. After receiving a call from the retiree in 2005 letting Rod know he had a decision to make, we'll give you one guess what his answer was.
Soon enough, the truck was on its way across "the pond" to Rod's shop in Southern England where he'd been importing classic American cars since the 1960s for eager clients. But this old Chevy wasn't going to be getting another's name on its title, as Rod wasn't about to let the '54 out of his hands after such a long courtship. Rod spent the next year and a half freshening up the all-original, late Advance Design pick 'em up to GM specs. This included the ever-faithful Thriftmaster 235 straight-six and I-beam suspension that all rolls on a set of bias-ply B.F. Goodrich narrow whitewalls.
While the truck is clean enough to be in a museum for those to gander at and scratch their heads trying to remember the last time they saw an all-original restored truck in today's world of six-figure custom trucks, you won't find it there. Rod drives the '54 regularly, and we wouldn't have it any other way.