The ability to transform a dilapidated old pickup into a fresh new expression of one's personality seems to be, for most of us, a task that's well beyond our capabilities-sometimes even after we take the plunge and actually give it a try. But there are few feelings of pride and accomplishment as great as what we experience upon completing our very first classic truck project-whether it's a few modifications to a rough old driver or a frame-off rebuild. And Nick Hernandez' first time at bat has garnered him a home run in our eyes!

As often occurs these days Nick first ran across his '46 Chevy while scanning eBay. Since making the decision to try his hand at assembling a classic pickup he'd had his ears and eyes open in hopes of finding a worthy candidate for his very first truck project. The Chevy had caught his eye but it wasn't until the deadline had passed, and it was still available, that he contacted the truck's owner. The '46 was a heck of a lot more rough than most novices would have tackled. (It was basically a bullet-riddled, mouse dropping-filled rusty hulk.) But never one to pass up a real challenge, Nick offered the owner a token $400 for the heap-and the rest is, as they say, history.

Nick began the rodstoration of the '46 by stripping the truck down to bare rails. The frame was cleaned up and a Total Cost Involved Mustang II-style IFS with 2-inch dropped spindles installed between the front framerails. The IFS was followed by a four-bar/coilover-style rear suspension system and a 9-inch rearend sourced from TCI and Currie Enterprises respectively, as well. The install set the chassis at nearly the right height, but to gain the running board scraping stance he really wanted, Nick added a plug-and-play air ride system to the mix while he was at it. Along with the new suspension system Nick re-plumbed the brake line system and replaced and relocated a new Summit Racing fuel tank from the cab to the chassis while he was at it. The finishing touch that made the chassis a roller was the addition of a quartet of Intro wheels wrapped in Bridgestone rubber (18s up front and 20s in the rear).

Since Nick planned right from the beginning to drive this baby whenever possible, the choice of a powerful yet reliable driveline was paramount. To this end Nick chose a muscular little small-block Chevy assembled for him by Adam Carvalho of Bakersfield, California. Adam not only freshened the Mouse motor but treated it to a set of 9.0:1 slugs, an RV grind cam, and a TBI setup for great response and excellent driveability, as well. Nick then backed the SBC with a Kern Transmission-prepped 700-R4, a pair of block hugger-style headers, a custom fabbed 2 1/2-inch exhaust system, and a set of Flowmaster mufflers fabricated and installed by No Muff Too Tough in Bakersfield, California.

That old worn-out and bullet-riddled body was next on the agenda. Since it was going to take a heck of a lot of elbow grease to bring this baby back to pristine condition Nick decided that a few custom touches wouldn't break the bank at that point so he went ahead and had Julian at To The Curb Rod Shop whack a good 2 1/2 inches out of the top (while keeping the rear window fullsize), shave the cab's door handles, and mold in the fender-mounted headlights too. With the body masterfully massaged back into pristine shape Nick enlisted Lil' Joe Rodriguez at Plasencia Paint & Body (also in Bakersfield) to prep and paint the sheetmetal in multiple glass-smooth coats of House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl.