Traditional-style hot rods, of both the truck and car persuasion, never go out of style. They may ride the wave of popularity as most trends will, but the old-school look will always be a part of the hobby. Over the years, the “beater” look has worked its way into the hot rod universe as well, and though it may be considered a fad by many, it’s a style that’ll be around for a long, long time.
Fritz Holzer is one classic trucker who has a soft spot for the beater style and it was with that in mind that he began his search for a likely candidate he’d be able to transform into a cool classic driver.
Fritz started looking on the Web, and like many, he found the foundation of his project on eBay. In Fritz’s eyes the pickup was in perfect shape – if by perfect one means a truck that has, as they say, been ridden hard and put away wet. The perfectly running ’54 GMC proudly wears nearly 60 years’ worth of bumps, bruises, and wear and tear and was, as we’ve already stated, exactly what he was looking for.
Once Fritz got this jewel home he began thinking about how he’d transform the pickup into a reliable mode of everyday transportation – this baby wasn’t gonna be a weekend toy by any means. After investigating all his options Fritz decided on the easiest, most affordable way to obtain his desired results, and that was via a donor chassis and driveline combination. All he’d need to do is to calculate the GMC’s wheelbase and track width and then begin the hunt for a good-running/driving vehicle that’d fit the bill.
Fritz found the perfect donor in the way of a 4.3L V-6/4L60E-equipped 1997 Chevrolet S-10 pickup. After stripping the S-10 down to its bare frame and discarding everything he didn’t plan on using, he then carefully did the same to the GMC – except that instead of tossing the sheetmetal he ditched the chassis instead. Starting with the perfectly patina’d cab, Fritz lowered it into place over the S-10 chassis with the front wheels centered in the GMC wheelwells.
He then noted the cab mounting points and modified/fabricated a set of mounts that mated the GMC cab to the Chevrolet chassis. He then did the same with the ’54’s cargo bed. With the new and old sheetmetal mounted to the late-model S-10 chassis he then proceeded to equip the chassis with a pair of 3-inch drop spindles, RideTech airbags, and Monroe shocks up front and out back he notched the S-10 framerails a whopping 8 inches and added another pair of RideTech bags and an Ekstensive two-link suspension setup.
As you’d expect, Fritz left the exterior of the pickup in the exact state in which he purchased it, with the exception of adding a pair of ’32 Ford taillights to the rear fenders. The most extensive bodywork was saved for the truck’s interior where Fritz fabricated a custom console from sheetmetal, outfitted the instrument cluster with a full complement of So-Cal Speed Shop gauges, a Speedway Motors steering column, and a So-Cal Speed Shop steering wheel. Since the plan was to drive the GMC daily Fritz made sure to add a quality sound system. He chose to install a Kicker PXI502 head unit, 6.5-inch front speakers, and a 12-inch subwoofer. While Fritz worked on the interior upgrades, RPM Hot Rods was thrashing away reupholstering the GMC’s stock bench in a combination of green metalflake vinyl and ’59 Caddy cloth.
Though maybe not everyone’s cup o’ tea, Fritz is super pleased with the way the GMC has ended up, and personally I love it as well.
1954 GMC 100
Frame: ’97 Chevrolet S-10
Rearend / Ratio: ’97 S-10 / 3.42:1
Rear suspension: Ekstensive two-link, RideTech airbags, Monroe shocks
Rear brakes: drum
Front suspension: ’97 S-10, 3-inch drop spindles, RideTech airbags, Monroe shocks
Front brakes: disc
Steering box: S-10
Front wheels: American Racing Torq-Thrust D
Rear wheels: American Racing Torq-Thrust D
Front tires: wide whites
Rear tires: wide whites
Gas tank: S-10
Engine: ’97 Chevrolet 4.3L V-6
Valve covers: stock steel
Manifold / Induction: stock / fuel injected
Ignition: GM HEI
Exhaust / Mufflers: stock / stock
Transmission: ’97 Chevrolet 4L60E
Fenders front / rear: stock
Bodywork and paint by: father time
Paint type / Color: worn thin / sorta green
Headlights / Taillights: stock ’54 GMC / ’32 Ford
Outside mirrors: unknown
Bumpers: stock ’54 GMC
Dashboard: modified stock
Gauges: So-Cal Speed Shop
Air conditioning: nope
Steering wheel: So-Cal Speed Shop
Steering column: Speedway Motors
Seats: stock ’54 GMC
Upholstery by: RPM Hot Rods, CORAOPOLIS, PA
Material / Color: vinyl-cloth / green metalflake, green cloth