When Kaufmann, Texas, car builder Jack Ellison wanted to get his 9-year-old son, Jonathan, involved with the business (Jack is the proprietor of North Texas Rod & Custom, Inc.), he went out and bought a '57 Chevrolet half-ton pickup truck that would serve as the beginnings of a father and son project. "Jonathan and I started working on the truck back around 1996 when he was just in grade school, and we finished it during his senior year in high school," says Jack.
Today, Jonathan is studying criminal justice at East Texas Baptist University, where he also plays fullback on the Tigers football team. Suffice it to say, while he's away at college, old dad is taking good care of his son's Sunburst Orange and Platinum Silver '57 Chevrolet big window. "I use the truck to advertise the business. It has won numerous awards at events like the Fort Worth Rod & Custom Car & Truck Show and the Dallas Autorama. We're both pretty proud of it," Jack confirms. Now let's take a closer look at the truck itself.
For openers, "Team Ellison" thoroughly boxed in the '57's chassis, and installed a Chassis Engineering front crossmember along with Mustang II suspension, Monroe gas-charged shocks, disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering. Out back, the Ellisons C-notched the framerails and installed a 3.00:1 geared Ford 9-inch bolted up to a set of N.O.S. '57 Chevrolet rear leaf springs with reverse eyelets, dampened by a pair of Monroe shocks. The rear brakes on the truck are 11-inch Ford. Wheels and tires consist of a set of 17-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs rolling on Eagle GT radial rubber.
Powering this beauty is an NTR&C-assembled, 305ci GM small-block. Machined by Motor Parts Plus, it's outfitted with a set of 8.5:1 compression, .030-inch overbore TRW pistons with Sealed Power rings, and pressed onto a set of 5.7L GM connecting rods. Valvetrain duties are handled by a COMP Cams #268 hydraulic cam along with a set of H.O. 305 GM cast-iron cylinder heads outfitted with COMP's rocker arms, valvesprings, and retainers. Up top are a Holley intake and 600-cfm carburetor, and ignition is an ACCEL electronic unit. The exhaust system consists of a set of thermal-coated S&S headers spinning the spent gases through a 2 3/4-inch thermal-coated NTR&C exhaust system equipped with a pair of Summit turbo mufflers. Backing all of this up is a TCI flywheel bolted up to a Steve McClarn-prepared GM Turbo 350 equipped with TCI internals. The final link in the '57's powertrain is a Stan Hopkins Driveshaft Services driveshaft.
Externally, the '57 looks relatively stock although there have been some subtle changes made. For example, the truck is fully dechromed, and features a rolled rear pan. Inside the bed, the Ellisons installed mirror polish diamond-plate in place of the usual wood, and father and son painted the '57 in PPG Sunburst Orange and Platinum Silver basecoat/clearcoat. The pinstriping is by James Crawford.
Inside, the Ellison's '57 features a set of Nissan seats upholstered by Jack in gray Ultraleather with matching door panels and headliner. Other upgrades include a GM six-way tilt steering column and steering column cover, Lecarra leather-wrapped steering wheel, a reverse-installed Chevy Suburban console, Vintage Air climate control, Auto Meter gauges, and a 3,000-watt Sony Xplod audio system.
Last year, Jonathan and his '57 were awarded the Rising Star Award at the 2006 Dallas Autorama. This award is offered through ISCA to builders under age 25.