One day our editor, Jim Rizzo, was heading to his local hardware store, McFadden-Dale Hardware, in Corona, California, when he spotted a clean '49 Chevy pickup in the parking lot. The truck was so nice; he had to find the owner. So Riz asked around and found out that an employee of the hardware store owns the truck and that he was out on a delivery. Tony Range, the owner, is retired and didn't want to sit around the house all day and twiddle his thumbs. So he took a job at the hardware store as a means of getting out of the house and helping fund his truck.
In the early '70s Tony had his fair share of fun toys. He started with a stock '50 three-window that was purchased for a measly $100. He drove it for a few years before he decided to customize it. He purchased a used 283 small-block with a four-barrel carb and set it aside on the garage floor. Then he installed a '57 Pontiac rearend with the help of his brother-in-law and his drag racing partner. Around this time Tony was single and had too many things going on at the same time-a '70 Chevelle Malibu SS with a 396 and a four-speed project, bowling two nights a week, karate two nights a week, and working on and flying radio airplanes the rest of the time. Then Tony got married so the dirty motor and the truck was replaced by his wife, Debbie's, new shiny Pinto Runabout. Yes, that's right folks, a Pinto.
Fast-forward to today, Tony is now in his late 60s. It was time for him to find the truck of his dreams, instead of just dreaming about it. Tony was having a hard time deciding what era of pickup he wanted to build, and it was the only thing he talked about for weeks at work. Everyone Tony talked to including his boss, Rob Sandberg, says, "Tony was driving us crazy about all the truck talk." So Sandberg helped him pick a body style, at around the same time Debbie had been thinking of similar body lines.
With the era picked out, Tony spent time after work searching for the perfect donor vehicle. Local auto and truck ads and several swap meets later, Tony was starting to lose hope on finding his dream truck. He received some snail mail and was checking through the weekly Pennysaver when a '49 Chevy pickup ad caught his eye. Tony called the number and asked if the truck was still for sale and before you know it the truck was in his driveway.
The '49 five-window was exactly what he was looking for, and the previous owner had installed some sweet aftermarket add-ons. A Classic Performance Parts Mustang II kit with rack-and-pinion steering lowers the front suspension. To spin the rear wheels, a Currie 12-bolt rearend with 3.83 gears was added and supported by monoleaf springs. Stepping on the brake pedal, a CPP four-wheel disc brake kit aids in the impressive stopping power. Tony's wheels and tires of choice went to the vintage-looking Smoothies by Wheel Vintiques and Coker Classic radials with big whitewalls. A Chevy 350 with 350hp crate engine backed by a 350 trans puts the power to the ground. Supplying the correct air/fuel ratio is done with an Edelbrock Performer intake and a matching Edelbrock carb. Powdercoated Hedman Block Hugger headers connected to a 21/4 dual exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers help the 350 breathe properly. Tony also installed some billet aluminum brackets to hold the alternator and replaced all V-belt pulleys with a serpentine setup.
With all this good stuff attached it is no wonder Tony could not pass up buying this beauty.