When it comes to designing good looking yet practical pickups the major manufacturers have always done a pretty good job-but then again, there's always room for improvement. Such is the case with the Cam Air, Yogi Somerville's interpretation of the ultimate Cameo pickup.
There's a good chance many of you know of or have dealt with Yogi yourselves. You see for the last 30 years Yogi's been the guiding force behind Yogi's Inc. one of the heartland's most extensive street rod and classic truck parts suppliers. But, above and beyond working tirelessly to provide the rodding public with everything they need to build their own dream machine's Yogi's secondary passion has been the design and construction of some pretty darn nice cutting-edge cars and trucks over the years.
After stumbling across the remains of a well-worn '57 Cameo back around 2002, Yogi dragged it back home to the shop with the intention of refurbishing it using the very wares he sells to the rest of us classic truckers. Once home and unloaded he began to inspect his new acquisition noting what and where his talents would be needed to return the pickup to its former glory. As he did so he began to put together in his mind a few changes that'd convert the Cameo into his interpretation of what GM's designers should/could have done back in '57.
The changes he had in mind weren't radical, just a few tweaks utilizing bits and pieces the original engineers had neglected to include in their initial design.
At first Yogi entertained thoughts of combining the pickup with a recently purchased Suburban he had on hand to come up with a unibody-type design similar to the early Ford pickups. But he soon set that idea aside and decided to go for a classier look which utilized the side trim from a '57 Chevy passenger car and the cargo doorskin from a Nomad wagon instead.
With a Jason Rushford rendering in hand, Yogi and his crew began to transform the pickup into the Cam Air you see here by starting with a fresh Total Cost Involved custom chassis assembly as its foundation. To the chassis Yogi added a quartet of Wilwood disc brake assemblies and Billet Specialties Bonneville billet wheels wrapped in some low-profile Bridgestone rubber. Once back on the ground a GMPP 454ci big-block backed by a 700R-4 were lowered into place and connected to the chassis' 9-inch rearend.
With the truck's foundation pretty much under control, the focus was then aimed at the body. The sheetmetal that was too far gone to restore was replaced (like the OEM bed assembly that was replaced by a replacement from Pro's Pick) while the portions that were repairable were massaged back into pristine condition. To the new bed assembly, Yogi attached a fresh pair of Cameo side panels and fabbed a new tailgate that utilized the cargo doorskin from a '57 Chevy Nomad wagon. Up front at the cab Yogi made a few more subtle changes as well, like forming new inner fender panels and a cool custom grille fitted with a '60 Impala big-block grille emblem, for example. A lot of Yogi's ideas required some specialty fabrication like the top rails on the Cameo bedsides and the cool "Cam Air" emblems used on the body.
A two-tone paint scheme was chosen as well, helping to accent the use of the Bel Air side trim that serves as the most immediately recognizable departure from the pickup's stock appearance. The truck's interior is every bit as classy as the exterior. Yogi had it trimmed in a combination of blue and tan leather and installed a unique console assembly and door panels that really serve to accent the many subtle and not so subtle interior modifications the Cam Air exhibits.
All in all, the Cam Air is one of the nicest professionally built classic trucks we've seen in a while and offers up a plethora of neat ideas we home builders may wish to emulate or expand on in our own personal projects. In fact, since I've got my newly acquired '57 in my driveway, I just might do just that. Thanks for sharing Yogi; you've done a great job-again!