It wasn’t hard to spot Kenny Mutert’s ’51 Chevy in the parking lot at the H.A.M.B. drags. It looked perfect--great wheel and tire combo, excellent stance, simple interior, and paint that just can’t be faked. When we headed out to the photo location, we watched him fire up the truck and then he just sat there. "You want me to follow you, right?" he said. Yeah, aren’t you going to air it up? we asked. There’s no ’bag--this bitch drags! he yelled. And to prove it, he scraped out of the parking lot, and we heard the hollow screech a couple more times before lining him up for these shots.
Kenny’s best friend, Mike Lazear, bought the truck from the original owner in Texas, who was using it for junk storage, an end for many vintage trucks. "The bed was full of everything including the kitchen sink," he says. Seriously, it had the kitchen sink, and the old guy’s bathtub, too.
After a trip to the dump, Lazear started on the chassis, grafting a ’69 Camaro front clip to the original frame with a 2-inch Z-cut, which allowed the use of stock Camaro spindles and coils, but still dumps the nose down where it belongs. Out back, a 3-inch C-notch clears the Mustang 8.8 hung from ladder bars, TCI coilovers, and Panhard bar fabbed by Kenny at his shop, Kenny Mutert Hot Rods in Moscow Mills, Missouri. The 15x5 and 15x7 Wheel Vintiques, wrapped in Coker Classics 550 fronts and G78 rears, spin and stop with 3.73 gears on a limited slip and stock drum brakes at the corners. "It rides unbelievably well," Kenny says.
After getting the chassis done, Lazear sold the truck to Kenny, who carried on the build with a ’74 350 small-block backed by a T10 four-speed, Centerforce clutch, and blow-proof bellhousing. The block was bored .030 and filled with detailed Ross forged pistons, I-beams, and Sig Erson cam. Chevy Bow Tie 64cc chamber heads with stainless Ferrea 2.02/1.60 valves were port-matched to the Edelbrock Air-Gap intake, which is topped with a 2-inch phenolic spacer and Holley 750-cfm carb. A Milodon 6-quart pan, HEI ignition, valve covers built by Kenny, and coated Hedman headers round out the package, which puts down a respectable 385 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque to the flywheel on the dyno.
Once the body was back on the frame, the bed floor was raised 2 inches to compensate for the chassis modifications, and that was pretty much where the bodywork ended. "When I got it the body looked just like it does now--perfect," Kenny says. He left the original paint and surface rust as is, but detailed the engine bay with a fresh coat and striping by M.K. John. Likewise, the interior is minimalist, fitted with a ’98 Chevy truck bench covered with a blanket, smoothed and shaved ’69 Camaro steering column capped with a ’61 Impala wheel, and little else. "The stereo is 3-inch Flowmasters and four grand on the tach," he says. Air conditioning is also handled the old-fashioned way--door glass down, vent windows open, and cowl vent flowing.
Kenny isn’t the least bit shy about using the truck, even though it’s closer to the ground than a Coke can. "I drive this truck everywhere. It gets used for work, it gets loaded up at the swap meets, and I drive it to the drags where it’s turned 12.50s in the quarter... It’s a great truck, and has done a lot of miles. I’ll never sell it."
It’s not often you come across a truck that hauls ass, parts, and pals as well as this one. ct
Moscow Mills, Missouri
1951 Chevy 3100
Frame: modified stock
Modifications: Camaro front clip, Z’d 2 inches, C-notched
Rearend / Ratio: 8.8 Ford Mustang
Rear suspension: ladder bar, coilovers, Panhard bar
Front suspension: GM IFS (Camaro clip)
Steering box: GM 605
Front wheels: 15x5 Wheel Vintiques
Rear wheels: 15x7 Wheel Vintiques
Front tires: 550-15 Coker Classic
Rear tires: G78-15 Coker Classic
Gas tank: stock
Engine: ’74 Chevrolet 350
Heads: 64cc Bow Tie
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock / Holley 750-cfm
Ignition: GM HEI
Exhaust / Mufflers: 2.5 inches / Flowmaster
Transmission: Borg-Warner T10 four-speed