Doug Boettcher of Doug’s Rod Shop in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, is a one-man shop. As Doug says “I work on anything except paint and body, but my goal is to help my customers complete their hot rod’s needs.” Doug does a lot of running around gathering parts and making sure he has all the supplied items to run a successful business. So he was thinking that sooner or later he would have to either build a truck or purchase one that supports the business.
He knew that building a truck would take months and time is what Doug didn’t have. One day Doug was approached to help a customer cut and polish his ’37 Nash. The only catch was that the Nash was clear across the country, but Doug needed to get away for a while. Doug boarded a plane from Minnesota all the way to Scottsdale, Arizona. He packed a paint buffer and a few changes of clothes because the hot desert sun was a few hours via air travel.
Doug sweated his butt off and got the Nash polished up so that his customer could make it to the show. Doug’s flight back home was not until Sunday evening and it was only Friday, so he walked the show seeing if he could gather ideas for future builds. That’s when he spotted it, a ruff ’57 Chevy pickup that looked like it was built a few years prior.
It looked like it had not been driven very much from the looks of the odometer and the overall shape of the vehicle. Sometimes looks can deceive dreamy eyes; you know when the truck looks easier to build when you are purchasing it. We all have been there a time or two, right? I know I have.
Doug took a close look at it and decided to check out the rest of the show, but for some oddball reason he ended up staring right at the that darn ’57. He asked the owner if it was for sale and he was lucky because the previous owner was building another project. You might be thinking if Doug flew over to Arizona he surely wasn’t going to drive an unproven project back home? Or was he?
After striking a deal to purchase the truck Doug thought if they drove them cross-country back in the ’50s why couldn’t he do it now? Valid point on Doug’s part, but was this the kind of adventure that could leave Doug stuck in the middle of nowhere? Nope – he said the truck ran solid all the way home, but it sucked gas like a freight train. He did notice that one of the rear four-link bolts was falling out, but that was a quick fix. He left Sunday morning from Arizona in the middle of winter and 1,750 miles later arrived home Monday night.
After driving the cool custom home he noticed that some of the paint was blended and scratch marks from previous bodywork were starting to show. Did I mention Doug doesn’t do paint and body? Well he does on his own vehicles, but not on customers’ vehicles because it would hold up other productive tasks in the shop.
After painting the front end and parts of the rear bed Doug noticed that the coil spring pockets were rubbing on the airbags. Doug racked the truck and removed the front suspension and fixed the rubbing issues by removing a large area around the ’81 Camaro spring pocket frontend. Wiring on the ’57 looked typical for how old it was – rotted and spliced. Doug replaced the stock wire harness with a Painless wiring kit, replaced the rubber around the doors, finished the interior, and the list goes on and on. The cool thing about Doug’s trip is that he got a project truck when he didn’t expect it and he did what most of us wouldn’t try in a million years.
“You might be thinking if Doug flew over to Arizona He surely wasn’t going to drive an unproven project back home? Or was he?”
1957 Chevy Stepside
Doug and Doreen Boettcher
Spring Lake Park, Minnesota
Modifications: ’81 Camaro subframe
Rearend / Ratio: 12-bolt 3:42
Rear suspension: RideTech four-bar w/airbags
Rear brakes: drum
Front suspension: ’81 Camaro front
Front brakes: Camaro disc
Steering box: CPP
Front wheels: American Torque Thrust 17x7
Rear wheels: American Torque Thrust 17x8
Front tires: Nitto 225/50/R17
Rear tires: Nitto 255/50/R17
Gas tank: Mustang under bed
Engine: ZZ4 crate 350
Heads: 58cc GM ZZ4 crate engine heads
Valve covers: Mooneyes finned
Manifold / Induction: ZZ4 aluminum
Headers: Doug’s headers
Exhaust / Mufflers: Flowmaster 40 Series
Transmission: Chevy 700-R4
Modifications: shift kit w/2,400 stall converter
Shifter: GM column
Style: chopped ’57 Chevy stepside
Modifications: chopped roof
Fenders front / rear: shaved and molded to the front bumper
Hood: shaved emblems
Grille: custom billet
Bed: shortened with oak strips
Bodywork and paint by: owner
Paint type / Color: PPG / gloss black
Headlights / Taillights: stock / Billet Specialties
Outside mirrors: custom mirrors
Bumpers: custom roll pan front and rear
Dashboard: stock / shaved and smoothed
Gauges: Dakota Digital
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Steering wheel: Lecarra
Steering column: GM tilt
Seats: stock bench recovered
Material / Color: leather / black
Carpet: black loop