Cameo pickups are some of the rare few. Built from 1955 to 1957, these trucks came with fiberglass bedsides that give the truck a nice, clean look. It is a big challenge to try and find a complete truck with all the bedside parts still in good condition. Randy Ito went through three complete beds and three fiberglass bedsides to make the rear end of his ’55 Cameo show-worthy. This Cameo project got its start because of Randy’s friend Roger, who used to have a nice ’57 Chevrolet Cameo. Roger’s pickup was done with a nice paintjob and interior but Randy thought, “How could I build one too, without spending too much money?” Well, with Randy’s attention to detail and need to take his Cameo the extra mile he spent the extra greenbacks to have a truck that could draw attention from here to China.
As with any high-end truck build, setbacks are inevitable. Randy trailered the truck to a builder in Upland, California, a body shop that came highly recommended from a friend. That turned out to be a bad decision, which set him back over a year. The bodywork turned from OK to “oh no, what happed here” in a manner of two weeks. The body shop didn’t prep and clean the metal properly; the primer and layers of body filler had a bad chemical reaction. Plus, scratch marks from sanding with 120-grit and jumping to 400-grit sandpaper showed in detail. This was not a good start for Randy, but he had a vision of the end product and so he continued forward.
Randy, in the meantime, took the truck to Total Cost Involved (TCI) in Ontario, California. They built the first prototype truck frame and put together a rolling chassis. While the frame was being fabricated, the cab, bed, and fiberglass bedsides were sent to another body shop in Huntington Beach, California, to start the bodywork and to add custom touches like shaved door handles, smoothed firewall, pancaked hood, and smoothed door jambs. Randy said this is where setback number two came in. Most everything the body shop in Huntington Beach did had to be re-done, from putting in a custom firewall, pancaking another hood, removing the body filler that was used to smooth the door jambs, and removing more body filler to see what was being covered up. What a mess.
Randy took the rolling chassis, cab, bed, and fiberglass bedsides to GMT Quality Metal Work and Fabrication just to have the bed floor raised to clear the rear differential. Geoff Mitford Taylor (GMT), who has since moved back to New Zealand, had one of his craftsmen, Steve Morrow, raise the bed floor by installing custom crossmembers and making the tailgate fit. After raising the bed floor, Geoff started to go over some of the issues that needed attention. Geoff had Steve go through the whole truck a section at a time. He made sure the gaps were correct and did modifications, fabrication, and sheetmetal work along the way. Steve smoothed out the dash, fabricated a custom panel that was mounted below the dash, and performed some custom features that Randy wanted. Brett Mabray, another skilled craftsman at GMT, assisted Steve in disassembling and reassembling fuel lines, air-conditioning lines, and all the stainless steel polished lines. GMT’s workmanship and the quality of metalwork and fabrication they put into this Cameo pickup are truly phenomenal.