Most anyone reading this magazine probably has fond memories of learning to drive. Some got an earlier start than others thanks to an eager father, sibling, neighbor, or maybe because they had to learn. Obviously, it doesn't happen much in bigger cities these days, but when Les Allen was 12 years old he learned to drive his dad's '56 Chevy truck around the family farm so he could be more useful.
Les and his brother had a good time driving around the Chevy with its 283 and three-on-the-tree, even when they were working, but it didn't last forever. One day the boys were cruising the farm, with his brother behind the wheel. He clipped a low roof on one of the barns with the rear fender of the otherwise beautiful red truck--that was the last time either one got to drive the '56.
On into Les' late teens/early twenties it was the late '60s and smack dab in the middle of the muscle car craze. He had already owned a street Hemi, a '69 Z-28, and a '66 Corvette to name a few, but of course he didn't keep any of them. By the mid-'70s Les had a budding business in the forestry industry and spent the next 20 years working and raising a family. In the late '90s he began to itch for something to go fast in again and wound up with a '67 Camaro that he ran in the NHRA Super Stock class--he was fairly successful for the next 10 years in various cars, but work became more demanding and he sold it all.
Les still wanted something fun to drive, but maybe something that didn't need as much attention as a race car. Soon he was reminiscing about the fun he had in his dad's old farm truck and figured something like it would be perfect. In 1999 he found the forlorn '56 Chevy Cameo project of a man who lived at the base of Mt. Reiner. Les bought it and drove it a few times, but couldn't stand the paint color so it was parked. The next few years were spent studying and researching what it was exactly that he wanted to do with the truck. Two years later, Les called artist Jason Rushforth for design help and the two came up with a plan.
The decision was made to put the truck on an Art Morrison frame because Les wants to drive the Cameo--and to be able to do so hard if his right foot chooses. This was also a natural since Art Morrison's shop just south of Seattle isn't that far from Les' home in Arlington. The frontend is one of Art's Mustang II-based systems and Strange adjustable shocks and Air Ride Tech 'bags reside at each corner. Wilwood Pro dropped spindles and 11 3/4-inch discs round out the front. In the back is a four-link setup that locates the stout Strange 35-spline rearend that Les built with a 4.11:1 ring-and-pinion and of course a posi unit.
Naturally the rest of the drivetrain was gonna mean as much business as Les would want to handle on the street, so a pre-'86 small-block Chevy was punched out to 4.28 inches, stroked to 3.75 inches, balanced, blue printed, and assembled by Rod Stultz of Rod's Porting Service using top-notch internals. A Ramjet intake was modified by Arizona Speed and Marine to run an ACCEL DFI engine management system along with a Pro Charger supercharger. Custom-made, equal-length, and stepped-diameter headers were fabricated by Stan's Headers as well as the rest of the exhaust system that incorporates a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. Les likes grabbing gears and stomping on three pedals, so a Richmond six-speed and a McLeod dual-disc clutch bring up the rear of the not-so-small, 700-horse small-block.
The most striking aspect of the truck may be its exterior. This is a result of many factors--the design collaboration with Jason Rushforth, the hands-on work of Les, his son Robbie, stepson Sean, Maxwell Metal Works, John's Auto Body, and Jerry and Karla Husby. The top was chopped a mere inch, shaved drip rails, headlights frenched, hood pie-cut and smoothed, corners rounded, new inner fender panels fabbed, and the bed was narrowed and fit to the cab, just to name a few of the subtle mods. The centerline of the front wheels were also pushed forward for better aesthetics. The grille was made from airplane struts and custom-machined cups hold turn signal lights from a late-model Harley-Davidson. Maxwell's made the aluminum toneau cover that hides a bed floor covered in 7-inch polished stainless strips and wood caps by Robbie. Jerry and Karla Husby are an older couple who handled spraying and finishing the PPG Corvette Torch Red and black paint. Les says he was very fortunate to find them as they did a top-notch job and were both meticulous and reliable. Mike Lavellee handled the ultra-subtle pinstriping and graphics on the engine cover.
Inside the cab is a black and brown leather interior stitched up by Paul Reichlen of Cedardale Upholstery. TEA's Design bucket seats were employed after some special mods were done. The door panels use pieces from a '55 Bel Air and '62 Nova while the center console was Les' idea and patterned after a '00 Corvette that was made at Maxwell's. The modified stock dash has an extra Dakota Digital panel added to the passenger side to not only bring some symmetry to it, but to also add some extra instrumentation Les wanted to go along with the Pro Charger. A Billet Specialties wheel crowns the painted ididit tilt column.
Eight years of hard work later and Les says the '56 is exactly what he had in mind and maybe more. We were lucky enough to catch up with he and Sean at the recent Goodguys show in Del Mar, California, where Les drove down from Washington to debut the truck and we got the very first photo shoot of it to share with you--enjoy!
|LES AND MARJORIE ALLEN |
|ARLINGTON, WASHINGTON |
|1956 CHEVROLET CAMEO |
|FRAME: ||Art Morrison |
|REAREND / RATIO: || Strange 35-spline / 4:11:1 posi |
|REAR SUSPENSION: || four-link |
|REAR BRAKES: ||Wilwood 11 3/4" discs |
|FRONT SUSPENSION: ||Art Morrison IFS |
|FRONT BRAKES: ||Wilwood Pro 13” discs |
|STEERING BOX: ||AGR power rack-and-pinion |
|FRONT WHEELS: ||Colorado Custom Lazear, 18x8 |
|REAR WHEELS: ||Colorado Custom Lazear, 20x10 |
|FRONT TIRES: ||Yokahama AVS ST, 255/45R18 |
|REAR TIRES: ||Yokahama AVS ST, 295/45R20 |
|GAS TANK: || Art Morrison, under bed |
|ENGINE: || 406ci Chevy small-block |
|MACHINE AND ASSEMBLY: || Rod's Porting Service, Marysville, WA |
|HEADS: ||Pro Cylinder Head, 23 degree |
|CRANK: ||Crower 382 |
|RODS: || Crower 6" |
|PISTONS: || JE Inverted Cone 8.5:1 |
|CAM: || COMP CS 300 mechanical |
|VALVE COVERS: ||polished aluminum |
|MANIFOLD / INDUCTION: ||Ramjet EFI / Arizona Speed & Marine |
|FORCED INDUCTION: || Pro Charger |
|IGNITION: || ACCEL DFI |
|EXHAUST / HEADERS: ||custom by Stan's Headers, Auburn, WA / stepped, equal length |
|MUFFLERS: ||Flowmaster |
|TRANSMISSION: ||Richmond six-speed |
|CLUTCH: ||McLeod dual-disc, Tilton hyd. T.O. bearing |
|STYLE: ||Cameo |
|FENDERS FRONT / REAR: || stock / Cameo |
|HOOD: || pie-cut, smoothed, custom latch |
|GRILLE: ||custom from airplane struts and Harley turn signals |
|BED: || narrowed Cameo, tailgate laid forward, by owner |
|BED FLOOR: || 7" stainless w/small wood strips, by Rob Allen |
|BODYWORK BY: || Maxwell Metal Works, Marysville, WA and John's Auto Body, Port Angeles, WA |
|PAINT BY: ||Jerry and Karla Husby, Pasco, WA |
|PAINT TYPE / COLORS: || PPG / '00 Corvette Torch Red and black |
|GRAPHICS: ||Mike Lavellee |
|HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS: || frenched / Cameo, modified by Technostalgia |
|BUMPERS: || narrowed, smoothed, by owner |
|TRIM: || modified '56 Bel Air |
|POLISHING: ||Proflections, Auburn, WA |
|GAUGES: ||Dakota Digital |
|DASH: || extra gauge panel added |
|CONSOLE: || custom '00 Corvette style |
|AIR CONDITIONING: ||Vintage Air |
|STEERING WHEEL: ||Billet Specialties |
|STEERING COLUMN: || ididit tilt |
|SEATS: || Tea's Design buckets, modified |
|UPHOLSTERY BY: || Cedardale Upholstery, Mt. Vernon, WA |
|MATERIAL / COLOR: ||leather / black and brown |
|CARPET: ||gray and black |
|STEREO: ||Alpine, by Sean Hoglund |