In 1949, three years after first establishing South Lamar Automotive in Austin, Texas, Francis Reissig went down the street to Capitol Chevrolet to purchase a new 3100 Series pickup. Whether or not he realized it at the time is unclear, but that five-window would end up serving as much, much more than just a shop truck for the family business-it literally became part of the family ... and still is to this very day.
By 1959, South Lamar Automotive had moved to a new location (still on Lamar Boulevard, though), where it would remain in business until 2006. Through the years, the '49 Chevy did everything, from escorting his wife-to-be on dates to teaching his son, Skip, how to drive (which he'd continue doing when he eventually started working for his dad). Skip would later move onto become an entrepreneur of sorts (real estate, entertainment, and even some acting-most notably a bit spot in the film Planet Terror, where he played the owner of a nightclub, Skip's Go Go Go Club!), but despite the closing of the shop, he never let the pickup out of his sight ... nor his possession.
Just a year prior to South Lamar Automotive officially shutting its doors, another type of auto business-a hot rod and custom shop-had moved in next door to Reissig's. When the larger, cinder-block building became available, Austin Speed Shop packed up and took advantage of the opportunity. Skip also saw an opportunity of his own-to have the family shop truck restored in honor of his parents ... in the very shop he used to call his home away from home.
Originally, the plan was simply a mild redo, but after the '49 had returned from Long Beach, California, where it'd gone for a custom paintjob, courtesy of Pete "Hot Dog" Finlan, the game plan was stepped up a notch or two. To complement the Art Morrison chassis the truck now sits atop, Austin Speed Shop's in-house upholstery artisan, Sean "Fat Lucky" Johnstun, did up the interior of the cab with a tri-color blend of blues that stands out perfectly against all the cream-painted surfaces. Final touches to Chevy, from assembly to tuning the Edelbrock TBI-equipped GM crate engine, were handled by one of the shop's latest acquisitions, Todd Gravelle (who'd transplanted from Salinas, California, not too long ago).
When all was said and done, instead of looking just like it did the day Francis Reissig bought it, the once-utilitarian truck was now a rolling work of art-which is fitting, considering Austin Speed Shop isn't a restoration joint. And one of the first places Skip drove the '49 was to his parent's house for a little surprise ... an understatement if there ever were one.