I spotted this truck at the 4th Annual Goodguys Spring Nats in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was really taken back by it and thought...what a cool glimpse into the 1950s era, when a soda cost you 10 cents, and your cup holder was a good-lookin' gal next to you wearin' a poodle skirt. Nowadays, with the popularity of big wheels, LS engines, and air-ride suspensions, many people modernize these trucks light-years away from the original design. It surely makes you appreciate the vision of a truly vintage restoration. In keeping with tradition, Domingo "Mingo" Romero kept his '54 old school, and very cool in the process! Here's the history behind this white-walled modern daytime traveler.
Summer landscaping in Arizona is really tough, thankless work. I am sure it doesn't usually pay what it's worth, but in this case it did, big time! After work one day in 2005 Mingo and his son were passing through a neighborhood and saw this truck, not necessarily for sale. They knocked on the door to no answer, and decided to try again about a week later. After coming back to the area five different times, they finally got lucky. The truck belonged to a widow who decided to sell it after her husband passed away. She was asking $10k at the time, and told him it was running, but it needed a battery. Not immediately sold, Mingo had to think it over and left.
Some time had passed and he decided to go back for another look, he found it easily this time, but the owner was not home. Picture this: Mingo wanted to see if it ran, but couldn't wait for her to get home. So what would you do? Here's what they did … they got a battery, some primary wire, and hot-wired it. It sounds a little, OK, a lotta bit crazy, but the owner did tell him they could start it. I am guessing she meant using the key, and when she was home, but it all worked out in the end.
Hearing it run sealed the deal, and he's loved it ever since. He offered her $6k and drove it home the next day. It had a rebuilt original 235 straight-six, with three on the tree, and it ran great. Soon after, the restoration started when his good friend, Dennis Sanchez, took everything apart and started at the frame. It was in pieces all over his shop, so much so that Mingo worried that he wouldn't get it back together. At this point, the build could've moved in the customizing direction, but it stayed all original. Mingo even left the original 6-volt electrical system. He says, "It works great and I can still get the parts to keep it working, so why change it?"
In this resto's case, it's the color that really grabs your attention. It's called "Firepepper Red Pearl" – a 1999 Honda color that should have been offered by Chevy in 1954. It's really well suited for this truck, and the 16-inch steelies with Coker 600 wide whites are the perfect shoes as well. Finally, after sanding and painting every piece over the next year or so, it was assembled and finished! Unfortunately, Dennis passed away soon after, but they were very good friends and the quality of his work is timeless.
The interior is original except for Albert Gonzales' painted graphics on the door panels. Behind the factory tri-spoke steering wheel are the definitive round combination gauges. The brown leather bench seat looks nice and enhances the paint color. The oak bed is finished with low gloss sheen to complete the look, and combat the sunrays. It's not a daily driver, but he drives it to the local Goodguys shows and even gets in some weekend cruising.
In 2009, he joined Phoeniquera Classics, a local club with a long history of nice period-correct cruisers. This has taken him to various shows and brought him many trophies! It's hard to believe that you could restore this truck for $10k, but that's about how much he's invested to date. Not bad for a beautiful, old-fashioned piece of history that's driven and enjoyed!
Frame: stock 1954
Rearend / Ratio: GM 10-bolt 3.08
Rear Suspension: factory
Rear Brakes: GM 10-inch drum
Front Suspension: factory
Front Brakes: GM 10-inch drum
Steering Box: GM 605
Front Wheels: factory 16x7
Rear Wheels: factory 16x7
Front Tires: Coker 600, 16-inch wide whites
Rear Tires: Coker 600, 16-inch wide whites
Gas Tank: stock aluminum
Engine: original factory 235 straight-six
Head: stock iron
Valve Covers: factory cast aluminum
Manifold / Induction: factory cast iron
Exhaust / Mufflers: glasspacks
Transmission: GM Synchro three-speed column shift
Fenders Front / Rear: stock
Bed: Bruce Horkey oak
Bodywork and Paint by: Lincoln Industries by painter Dennis Sanchez. Graphics by Albert Gonzales
Paint Type / Color: PPG Red Firepepper Pearl
Headlights / Taillights: stock
Outside Mirrors: stock
Bumpers: stock front/rear 1954 plated by Chevy Classics, Orange County, California
Gauges: stock 1954
Stereo: radio delete
Steering Wheel: factory three-spoke
Steering Column: Stock 1954
Seats: factory bench seat
Upholstery By: N/A
Material / Color: dark saddle-brown leather
Carpet: carpet delete