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.
Before the rolling chassis could be disassembled, everything had to be fitted. Good thing they did too, as some adjustments were necessary, such as shortening the front and rear of the frame and where the engine sat. Remember, this is a prototype TCI frame built up in the early ’00s without the body on hand so some adjustments were most assuredly expected. Pick’s Racing customized an air cleaner from Street Performance, and to dress up the engine Randy decided to add Street & Performance pulley kit that was all polished aluminum. After the engine was set in place, Steve made a custom core support and had a custom radiator made by Mattson’s Custom Radiator in Stanton, California. They built a triple-pass radiator with AN fittings, all aluminum polished with a single fan.
To add the finishing touches, Rod Sexton in Orange, California, built a nice set of custom headers, using 2.25-inch tubing feeding into a 3-inch exhaust—all the tubes are polished stainless steel. Randy then added custom, high-performance, polished stainless steel mufflers from Bassani.
The fiberglass bedside panels had to be reinforced so they wouldn’t move and would line up correctly. Once the cab, fenders, doors, bed, sheetmetal, and fiberglass bedsides were fitted and everything was rechecked, then everything came apart again for painting. Choosing the right color was the easy part as blue is Randy’s favorite color. Randy spent a lot of time wandering through different dealerships until he finally found the perfect shade: Nautical Blue. He then had Fountain Valley Paint do their magic and mix up enough paint for the Cameo. Randy handed the pain cans over to Mick Jenkins at So-Cal Speed Shop who performed the outstanding paintjob. It came out “looking like a million bucks,” according to Randy (we couldn’t agree more). “Thanks to all the great work that Mick and Paco Castell did. Paco is a perfectionist when it comes to the details.”
After the paintjob, the truck went to Eclipse Engineering in Whittier, California, to have all the electrical work done, and to wire up the solenoids for the Ride Tech suspension. Steve Sbelgio was called upon for his excellent electrical work.
Gabe’s Street Rods Custom Interiors in San Bernardino, California, did a beautiful job with the interior. It is done in all leather, two-toned, in light and medium gray. Randy chose a Glide bench as a base and Gabe customized and shaped it for maximum driver comfort. The custom door panels and headliner are where Gabe did his magic with his interior design.
Aaron at Foothill Fabrication in Corona, California, did an excellent job with the final assembly. Aaron and Scott carefully went over the frame from front to rear to make sure the bolts, nuts, and fasteners were all the same, and either polished or chromed. They went over all the sheetmetal to make sure everything lined up perfectly.
“Ten years is a long time to work on this project. I’m happy the final product came out so well,” Randy said. CT
Mission Viejo, California
1955 Chevrolet Cameo
Rearend / Ratio:
Currie 9” polished aluminum third member / 3.50:1 w/ Eaton Truetrac
TCI stainless four-link
Budnik Fontana 18x8
Budnik Fontana 18x10
Pirelli P- Zero 235/40ZR18
Pirelli P- Zero 285/50ZR18
stainless and polished
Chevy 548ci (768hp) Donovan aluminum block, polished
Manifold / Induction:
Edelbrock, polished / Edelbrock 850-cfm
custom by Rod Sexton
Exhaust / Mufflers:
2.25” to 3” polished stainless tubing w/ Bassani mufflers
Turbo 400, fully polished
2,500-stall converter w/ 3-inch polished aluminum driveshaft
custom metal sheets raised for rearend travel
Mick Jenkins at So-Cal Speed Shop
Paint type / Color:
DuPont / Nautical Blue
Headlights / Taillights:
Gabe’s Street Rods Custom Interiors
Material / Color:
leather / light gray and medium gray