Soon after a particular birthday of note Pat McCollough sat pondering his many significant accomplishments. Above and beyond those of family and career, his thoughts wandered to the many cars and trucks he'd built for others over the years, and just how happy he was with the success of those undertakings as well. These musings led to Pat's realization that while he was helping countless other folks realize their dreams all those years, he'd somehow never gotten around to building a hot rod pickup of his own.
Soon after this revelation Pat began the search for a suitable foundation on which he could base the assembly of his very own hot rod pickup. Having an affinity for Tri-Five Chevrolet styling Pat narrowed his search and soon came across the perfect basis for his build – a relatively solid, Texas-based '55 Chevy 3100. The truck had been hot rodded sometime in the distant past, but at this point was in a state of disrepair to say the least. Pat and his son Joe made the trip to Texas, concluded the deal, and towed the pickup home to Nebraska behind his wife's SUV.
Once Pat began tearing down the pickup he realized that it was going to be a much more involved restoration project than he'd assumed by his initial inspection. The body would have to be nearly completely rebuilt and would most likely require nearly every repair panel available for this model truck, and more. By the time Pat had the cab and bed ready for final paint he'd repaired and or replaced the front fenders, the bottom halves of the doors, both cab corners, the firewall, half of the cab floor, the bed floor, the top rails of both bedsides, and one rear fender.
As an aside, while Pat was doing the bodywork, he was also adding some neat custom touches as well. He filled the bedrail ends, filled all the body seams, and fabricated a pair of 4-inch-wide inner wheeltubs as well. He also had the neat idea of cutting out the embossed Chevrolet script from a 230ci six-cylinder valve cover and inlaid it in the tailgate. After Pat had completed the repairs and finished the bodywork he enlisted the help of his friend and neighbor Scott Howser for the final paintwork.
The chassis of the pickup received just as much attention and work as the body and bed. Pat took the stock frame and grafted the front stub from a donor '75 Chevy Camaro (with the help of a how-to video by Rob McGregor of No Limit Engineering). Pat knew the finished product was going to sit pretty low so he went ahead and C-notched the rear rails while he was at it. The trucks replacement 10-bolt rearend was narrowed 6 inches and hung by the original leaf spring pack that had been modified by removing three springs from each side. Pat also moved the spring hangers inward by 2 inches to provide clearance for the big rear tires he had in mind for the pickup. While he was at it he moved the battery and the brake master cylinder below the cab since earlier he had filled and smoothed the firewall.
Next came the driveline. Pat chose a GMPP ZZ383 crate engine backed by a modified 700-R4 overdrive transmission, a custom driveshaft, and the aforementioned narrowed10-bolt GM rearend assembly. The chassis was then made a roller with the addition of a quartet of Early Wheel steel wheels with stepped center caps and a set of fresh big 'n' little rubber.
With the pickup's foundation handled Pat then installed the fresh body and cab on the chassis and began the final assembly. An aluminum Griffin radiator and Vintage Air air-conditioning condenser were attached to the radiator support and the hood and hinges installed and aligned. In the cockpit, the dash was slightly modified and fitted with a full complement of Classic Instruments gauges, and the modified 1980 Chevy steering column topped by an owner-restored '63 Bel Air steering wheel (from the actual car that Pat had learned to drive in as a youngster).
The bucket seats were pirated from an Eagle Talon and modified and upholstered in black Carrera material by Jeremy Jorgensen of Jorgensen's Rod Shop and Upholstery. The seat frames are fabricated using ¾-inch square tubing and a storage area was formed under the right-hand seat making up the space lost to the Vintage Air tucked up high under the passenger side of the dash. A form-fitted black carpet finished off the cozy cockpit readying the '55 for the many miles of road trips in its future.
When asked what he might have done differently if he had to do it all over again, Pat said he'd take a break from the build once in a while to spend more quality time with his extremely understanding wife – a commendable idea, and one we're sure Pat'll remember as he works away on his next big project.
1955 Chevy 3100 Second-Series Chevrolet
Pat & Pat McCollough
Frame: modified stock
Rearend / Ratio: GM 10-bolt / 3.48:1
Rear suspension: stagger-cut '55 Chevy leaf (less three leaves) homemade hangers, Gabriel shocks
Rear brakes: Camaro 11-inch drum
Front suspension: Camaro clip, CPP 2½-inch drop spindles, cut coils
Front brakes: disc
Steering box: Camaro quick-ratio
Front wheels: Early Wheel 15x6 steel
Rear wheels: Early Wheel 15x10 steel
Front tires: Kumo 215/75R15
Rear tires: Hoosier 31x12.50
Gas tank: stock
Engine: GMPP 383 crate
Valve covers: cast PML
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock / 770-cfm Holley
Ignition: MSD HEI
Headers: Hedman shorty
Exhaust / Mufflers: 3-inch owner-fabricated / Flowmaster Delta Flow
Shifter: B&M Street Fighter
Style: Second Series 3100 pickup
Modifications: filled seams, owner-fabricated bed, rear tubs, custom tailgate script, and aluminum bed floor
Fenders front / rear: stock
Bodywork and paint by: owner
Paint type / Color: DuPont Chromabase / Techno Gray
Headlights / Taillights: stock
Bumpers: modified stock by owner (front and rear)
Dashboard: modified stock
Gauges: Classic Instruments
Air conditioning: Vintage Air Gen II
Steering wheel: owner-restored '63 Bel Air
Steering column: '80 GM
Seats: modified Eagle Talon buckets
Upholstery by: Jorgensen's Rod Shop and Upholstery, Norfolk, Nebraska
Material / Color: Carrera / black