Don’t let the title fool ya, though this may be the Carlson’s first crack at a full-size classic, it’s by no means their first rodstoration. Josh has been building cool custom mini-trucks for years and this awesome ’55 Chevy is the lucky recipient of years of home shop fabrication and customizing experience.
It all started one day when Josh just happened to spy the ’55 sitting forlornly in a yard on the outskirts of town. Josh had always liked the tri-five Chevy styling and, after mulling it over for a few days, decided it was time to build a full-size classic pickup rather than another mini-truck. He and his father-in-law Buzz swung by a day later and Josh left behind the wheel of his new project—rattling, smoking, and shaking away.
As is the case with any full-on rodstoration, Josh began by totally disassembling the ’55 right down to its bare frame. From there he rebuilt and/or replaced the suspension components, made his modifications, and sent the whole shebang out for powdercoating. Once the frame and components were back in his hands he assembled the chassis, installed the engine and trans, and sent the rolling chassis to the muffler shop for a custom exhaust system. With the pickups foundation under control the next order of business was the sheetmetal. Josh took care of a bunch of rust and rot, replacing the floor, the cab corners, inner and outer lower doors, and the door opening steps. While he was thrashing he went ahead and filled and smoothed the firewall, shaved the door handles and drip rails, and rounded the door corners as well.
With the cab reworked and back on the chassis the next step was the electrical wiring, Josh said this was his first try at a complete rewire and ended up really enjoying the experience. With the wiring done and tested Josh then fired up the pickup’s Dennis Grimm-built small-block Chevy for break in—the engine purred like a kitten bringing a smile to Josh’s face and giving him a fresh shot of excitement and motivation. The front sheetmetal came next and Josh, in keeping with his customizing prowess, decided that the Chevy’s front end deserved a bit of a makeover, too, so he welded and blended both fenders to the front upper and lower grille surrounds making the assembly a one-piece unit. He then Frenched the headlights and fabricated a custom one-of-a-kind grille bar and stood back to take a look. After a bit of chin scratching he decided on an additional modification—he trimmed the lower few inches off the front clip and fabricated a custom bumper which he tucked rearward into the area opened up by his trimming of the sheetmetal. Once the front end was modified Josh just couldn’t let the hood remain untouched—so he sliced it up and pancaked it, trimming 2¼ inches from its lower edge, and while he was cutting he went ahead and rounded the hood corners to match the doors, too. Having completed his handiwork on the cab and front sheetmetal, the next item on the agenda was the bed …
Josh decided that the rear of his pickup had to be every bit as custom as the front, so it was with that intent he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. First, he fashioned the perimeter walls of the bed out of 16-gauge sheetmetal and sections of both round and square tubing. He fabricated it so that the rear of the box ended at the rear fender lines and followed the curve of them as well. The upper side box rail area was narrowed to give the fenders a larger appearance and the tubing was carried all the way to and across the tailgate area. Josh also fabricated the custom bed side steps, too, fashioning them so the exhaust tips (also fabricated by him) fit tightly under the step edges. Since the box had been configured as a closed unit (no working tailgate) Josh fabricated a remotely controlled custom, doored cargo box that rises upward electromechanically (utilizing seven linear actuators, eleven relays, and six limiting switches) from inside the bed walls for secure storage. He also fabricated a one-piece rear bed wall/rolled pan combination and extended the fender corners to mount flush with the custom bed sides and rear panel.
Josh spared no imagination or elbow grease on the pickup’s interior either. He not only fashioned the custom consoles but, like the rest of the truck, he did everything aside from the actual upholstery and carpet installation—heck, he even fabricated his own steering wheel from scratch and handled the installation of the Vintage Air system and the stereo, too.
At this point, I’m sure I’ve left out a bunch of Josh’s custom modifications but I’m sure you gather just how much thought and work he’s invested in the Chevy. And, I’m sure you’ll agree that he’s done one heck of a job at that. Now all we have to do is bide our time and keep an eye open for Josh’s next full-size classic truck project, cuz I’m pretty darn sure this baby isn’t the last custom we’ll see rolling out of the Carlson garage.
Josh & Shawna Carlson
Camaro clip, rear C-notch, GMC radiator core support, shortened front frame rails
Rearend / Ratio:
’78 Monte Carlo 10-bolt / 3.42:1
stock ’55 Chevy springs, KYB gas shocks
’76 Camaro clip, 2” drop spindles
Boyd Coddington, Turbo 18 x 8
Boyd Coddington, Turbo 20 x 10
Yokohama, AVS Sport, 225/45SR18
Yokohama, AVS Sport, 285/35SR20
355-cube small-block Chevy by Dennis Grimm
Manifold / Induction:
Edelbrock Performer / Edelbrock 650cfm
MSD / GM HEI
Exhaust / Mufflers:
2½” Magnaflow / Magnaflow Super Turbo
Jeff Specht, Billings Montana
shaved, rounded hood and door corners, one-piece fender and grille surround, Frenched headlights
Fenders front / rear:
pancaked, rounded corners
custom owner fabricated
completely handmade by owner
Bodywork and paint by:
owner and Bob Koschel (Toxic Designs, Billings, MT)
Paint type / Color:
PPG / ’02 VW Jetta blue
Headlights / Taillights:
Frenched Hagan / Hagan
custom by owner, flipped, flaired, narrowed
modified stock, owner fabricated consoles
Pioneer / Eclipse
handmade by owner
Harold’s Upholstery, Billings, MT
Material / Color:
leather / Neutral Grey
wool, Neutral Grey