OK, it was the paint that caught our eye, but like so many great trucks, upon closer inspection, Ron and Connie Thacker’s truck was a lot more than just a cool flame job. The definitive hot rod rake adds to the image and the big Eagle Alloy wheels continue the traditional hot rod trend, but you might be surprised at the number of modifications on this subtle truck.
The truck was originally Ron’s daily driver 4x4 ’79 Chevrolet truck, but somewhere along the line he decided he wanted a hot rod two-wheel drive truck. The 4x4 was parted out. The bed floor, cab, and dash were kept from that original truck and mounted on a shortbed, two-wheel driver frame. Up front DJM suspension 3-inch lowering coils and three-inch dropped spindles add up to a dramatic front drop. Out back the stock springs now mount atop the rear end thanks to a flip kit from DJM with an additional 1-inch lowering block added to the recipe. The lowering in the rear required C-ing the frame. After the modifications were complete the chassis and all suspension components were sandblasted and painted black with some smaller components done in a complementary orange. Every suspension component is either new or completely reconditioned. The result is a spot-on stance and a great driving truck.
Underhood, Mark Bruce did the machine work on a ’72 350 engine before Ron and his dad Ron Thacker senior assembled the powerplant. A Lunati 292 duration cam gives the truck a hot rod rumble while and Edelbrock intake and carburetor provide the fuel mixture. A new HEI distributor and orange wires by Taylor provide spark while Dynomax headers handle the leftovers. Behind the small-block a Turbo-400 transmission filled with a shift kit and connected to a switch pitch converter from an Oldsmobile. The tranny rebuild was handled by Uncle Bill Thacker.
The former 4X4 cab was now reunited with the new shortbed chassis and the old bed floor was now surrounded by new bedsides and a new smooth tailgate. A fiberglass rolled rear pan is used in lieu of bumpers. Up front, the sheet metal gets a bit more complicated. The ’79 cab is mated to ’81 and up fenders and hood, while the core support between the fenders is from an ’85 Chevy to facilitate the single headlights. It should be noted this is not a bolt-on as the firewall was reworked to use the later hood hinge and cowl panels. A billet grille from Carriage Works fits between the new headlight bezels from Grote Industries. The drip rails have been eliminated from the cab and all emblems were removed. After weeks of bodywork and panel fitting, Ron sprayed the Dupont Light Gold Metallic paint and then topped it off with a set of candy orange flames streaming down the belt-line of the truck. The results are a truck that manages to be both wild and understated at the same time.
Inside the truck, Joe Coleman of Clarksville, Indiana, has covered a stock bench seat in Ultra-vinyl. The cranberry upholstery provides a pleasing contrast with the light gold paint, and at first glance many people might not realize the dash pad has been eliminated with all the associated holes filled prior to painting. A custom bezel was formed in the dash to house the tachometer. Kenwood and Pioneer combine to produce the tunes, and an insulation mat from Danny’s Rod Shop keeps out the road noise. A Lecarra steering wheel mounts to the stock steering column.