One of the coolest things about old trucks is that they all have a story to tell. Once upon a time they were bought off the lot, brand new, and as they went from one owner to another, new locations, aesthetics, and so on became a part of their legacy. Being utilitarian in nature, they often worked their whole lives until someone took mercy on them and decided to make them a fun cruiser. Whether it’s as a stock resto or tricked out hot rod, sometimes it’s hard to believe the practical purpose these pickups once served when you see them in their current state.

So who’d ever guess that this 1959 Chevy Apache spent most of its life as a work truck at an apple orchard in New England before Joe Dittmeier saw its hot rod potential and transformed it into what you see now? Joe had been in the market for a project truck for a while when he came across the ad for it and knew he had to start the next chapter in its evolution. After driving it for a few years he decided the time was right to give this truck some new digs and find the right builder for the job. A referral led Joe to Dave Jordan of Dave’s Rod Shop in Kaiser, Missouri, and a collaborative effort to turn the ’59 into a fun driver began.

For suspension duties, the truck now sits on a Fatman chassis complete with IFS, coilovers at all four corners, and 13-inch six-piston Wilwood front disc brakes with 10-inch units in the rear. The rearend sports 3.73 gears and 32-spline axles. The truck rolls on 20-inch Billet Specialties wheels in the rear with 18-inchers in the front, all clad in Yokohama rubber.

The body mods of this truck run the gamut from tip to tail. The stake holes and tailgate were all closed up to give it a seamless appearance. Aftermarket motorcycle taillights were frenched into the custom rollpan with side-exit exhaust plumbed into the rear fenders. The doors were shaved and given remote bearclaw latches, driprails removed, and the original sunvisor was cut down about 4 inches and molded into the roofline. Hickory bed wood from LMC Truck was stained to complement the DuPont Torch Red and custom black paint.

Originally Joe wanted a small-block to power the Apache until Dave convinced him that going big would fill out the engine compartment better and be nice and loud to boot. We’re glad Joe listened to reason. The firewall was recessed to accommodate the fuel-injected 502 with a Vintage Air serpentine system, which Dave created a custom air-induction system for. It all flows through a 700-R4 trans and exhaust is pumped through Sanderson headers and custom stainless exhaust.

At first glance inside the cab, you’d be inclined to compliment the incredible woodwork. Actually that wood-grained airbrushing is so dead on that it’s easy to be fooled. The dash was refabbed to move the Classic Instruments cluster to the center directly above the custom console with a Pioneer head unit/DVD player and Vintage Air controls. A Billet Specialties wheel and tilt column keeps Joe in control of this beast and plenty of sound deadening material keeps the tunes loud. A custom mold was made for the fiberglass headliner that stares back at the Wise Guys seats stitched up in black leather with ostrich inserts.

The previous owners probably would’ve never guessed that their produce hauler would become one bad apple after its service life ran its course. Joe’s having plenty of fun cruising the streets of St. Louis in the truck’s current iteration and turning plenty of heads as proven by the fact it was chosen as one of the finalists for Truck of the Year at a Goodguys event. We’re sure its payload will consist primarily of trophies instead of fruit from now on.


“Joe’s having plenty of fun cruising the streets of St. Louis in the truck’s current iteration and turning plenty of heads as proven by the fact it was chosen as one of the finalists for Truck of the Year at a Goodguys event.”


1959

Chevy Apache

Joe Dittmeier
St. Louis, Missouri

CHASSIS

Frame: Fatman

Rearend / Ratio: Fatman / 3.73:1

Rear suspension: coilovers

Rear brakes: Wilwood 10-inch

Front suspension: coilovers

Front brakes: Wilwood 13-inch

Steering: Fatman rack-and-pinion

Front wheels: Billet Specialties 20-inch

Rear wheels: Billet Specialties 18-inch

Front tires: Yokohama

Rear tires: Yokohama

Gas tank: modified

DRIVETRAIN

Engine: 502

Heads: Edelbrock aluminum

Valve covers: GM

Manifold / Induction: Ram Jet / fuel-injected custom air intake

Ignition: GM

Headers: Sanderson

Exhaust / Mufflers: custom / Flowmaster

Transmission: GM 700-R4

Shifter: Billet Specialties

BODY

Style: Apache

Fenders front / rear: modified

Hood: stock, shaved

Grille: LMC Truck

Bed: customized with LMC Truck hickory wood

Bodywork and paint: Dave’s Rod Shop

Paint type / Color: DuPont / Torch Red and custom black w/red pearl

Headlights / Taillights: stock / aftermarket motorcycle, frenched

Outside mirrors: shaved

Bumpers: smoothed front; custom roll pan, rear

INTERIOR

Dashboard: modified stock

Gauges: Classic Instruments

Air conditioning: Vintage Air

Stereo: Pioneer

Steering wheel: Billet Specialties

Steering column: Billet Specialties

Seats: Wise Guys

Upholstery: Dave’s Rod Shop

Material / Color: leather / black

Carpet: Daytona, black