What do you do when the job you have worked diligently at for 25 years goes to someone overseas, and you are left with nothing just before retirement? If you are Lyle Brown, you build a 4,000 square-foot shop on your secluded property in northeastern Washington and get back to work-but not "that" kind of work.
See, Lyle is like many of us and has been into the hot rod/car building scene since he was 15 years old. He figured with that passion and the skills he learned as a millwright, he'd open his own shop called So Low Rod Shop. Things have been going well for Lyle since the switch, and he was working on a '54 Studebaker car that a friend just had to have. Said friend had a '50 Chevy truck that was a nice rust-free pickup that suffered from an engine fire and was parked, so a deal was made, and in that deal Lyle got the truck.
Lyle put the truck in the corner of the shop for a couple of years until he had a vision of how he wanted to build it. He planned to do something different since there are thousands of these Chevy trucks out there, but he also wanted it to be tasteful and look a bit old school. Lyle is very capable at most aspects of the build process, but avoids body and paintwork. As it happened, his friend Jon Entwistle had an opening in his shop, so he brought over every bit of sheetmetal except the bed for Jon to get started on. Next, Lyle ordered a TCI Mustang II clip, a complete Ridetech system, and a Lokar shifter and e-brake from Tim's Hot Rod in Davenport, Washington.
Lyle had discussed with Jon the idea of shortening the wheelbase on the old truck some, but was unsure how much until one night after staring at the frame for quite some time, Lyle grabbed the Sawzall and deftly removed 5 inches of framerail just behind the cab. From here Lyle got started cutting the bedsides and running boards to match the new wheelbase. He fabricated brackets to assemble a triangulated four-link setup, which would incorporate the airbags. The rear was also C-notched. Lyle installed the TCI front clip and with the truck back on the ground, even with the Ridetech all the way down, it still wasn't low enough, so he kicked up the frame both front and rear 2 inches before he was happy with the truck's profile. Painted steel wheels shod in radial whitewalls and four-bar spinners now added to the aforementioned profile.
Back to the bed, Lyle soon fabricated a raised steel bed floor to clear the Camaro rearend. He also made a custom front bed panel that has just a little bit of a curve in it to match the back of the cab-trick! He then filled the stake pockets, raised the running boards, made a custom tailgate complete with one-off latches, sectioned the bottoms of the front fenders for ground clearance, and a few more tricks were done to the bed to really set it apart, but very subtly.
Of course, when it came time to plan the interior, Lyle had some ideas. First, he wanted to use a set of GMC gauges because of their tan color. He modified the stock column to work with the manual rack-and-pinion and put a Corvair steering wheel with a secret Corvette badge as a horn button, atop the painted column. Lyle also filled the radio and switch holes in the dash for a much cleaner, but not too clean look. All necessary controls are hidden under the dash now. Lyle talked to his upholsterer Antonio about stitching in a pinstripe design that Lyle came up with into the seat before Antonio recovered the stock bench. Antonio had Action Sportswear in Spokane do the embroidery before sewing up the two-tone tuck and roll.
Lyle wanted the truck to be reliable and get reasonably decent gas mileage, so he found an original 350 Chevy small-block that was in a boat. After close inspection, he left it together before bolting it to a Turbo 350 and dropping the combo into the truck. Lyle picked up an Offenhauser Tri-power intake and rebuilt three junkyard Rochester 2GC carbs for it. He then sat down at his bench and designed and built progressive linkage to meter gas into the 3x2 setup-which gets almost 18 mpg by the way.
Finishing off Lyle's dream and handiwork is the body and paintwork by Jon. PPG Indian Turquoise was picked for its timeless looks and because it isn't a color that screams "look at me" even though it does get your attention. All this was done in a mere seven months.
Since the truck was finished, Lyle and his wife Esther have logged many a carefree mile and have been all over this country, even following the blacktop up into Canada for some shows. With a truck this good looking maybe Lyle should have gotten laid off long ago so he could really get to work!