It had to be at least 10 or 12 years ago that Mike Krummen first ran across this 1955 Chevy. On that day he was just looking forward to a fun day of four-wheeling on his folk's property up in Indiana. As he was rolling along he happened to glance over and see the rusty old nose of a 1955 Chevy sticking out of the edge of an overgrown wooded area. As he got closer, that good-looking nose and the raggedy, faded for-sale sign in the window hit him in the face like a hot wet kiss on the end of a cold fist – he just had to have that truck.
He jammed on the brakes and pulled over to the shoulder of the road, gave the pickup a quick look (it was a ¾-ton, small-window, longbed), and dialed the number on the faded old sign. The following weekend he was back, he handed the owner $1,000, snatched the bill of sale, hopped in, and drove the Chevy home.
It ended up being about a year later that he began to actually work on it, and he quickly found that about the only useable parts on the truck were the cab, doors, and frame. The rest he dismantled and scrapped. Mike loved the look of the 1955 and planned on keeping the body in as close to stock as he could, no chop, no section, just straight-as-an-arrow sheetmetal, gleaming fresh paint, and the perfect stance.
Mike started the rodstoration by blasting the frame and shortening it 12 inches – instant shortbed. Next he replaced the front crossmember with a Fatman Fabrications IFS setup equipped with custom Scott's Hot Rod adjustable A-arms, Heidt's 2-inch-drop spindles, RideTech airbags, and 11-inch disc brakes. Out back he fabricated and installed a huge pair of C-notches, a four-bar and triangulated Panhard bar, and a 10-bolt Posi rearend. Mike also fabricated and installed a tubular bridge-style rear crossmember with integral airbag bracketry. Once the chassis was painted, plumbed, and fully assembled, a quartet of Boyd Coddington wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber was added and the chassis lowered to the ground.
With the chassis under control it was time for Mike to turn his attention to the pickup's sheetmetal. He just happened to find the remains of a big-window cab in the woods behind a buddy's house and immediately hauled out the torches, cut off the back panel and roof, and hauled it back home to his two-car garage/shop. Oh yeah, did I mention Mike built this truck himself in his home garage? Well, he did, and commenced drilling out countless spot-welds from both his cab and the donor pieces from the big-window panel. With that tedious chore behind him he then began to reassemble his cab using the pieces he'd torched from the donor, turning his small-window into a big-window.
After plug-welding countless spot-weld holes, the new/old big window and roof panels were permanently attached to the back of his cab. He then replaced both door bottoms, inner and outer cab corners, inner and outer rockers, left and right door-step plates, and nearly the complete cab floor as well. Mike then filled and reworked the firewall and door jams so they were as smooth as the exterior sheetmetal. As he was working on the cab his new Mar-K cargo bed assembly arrived and as soon as he buttoned up the cab structure he turned his attention to assembling the new bed.
Though Mike had promised himself that he was gonna keep the look of the stock exterior in the beginning, he did allow himself some artistic license. With that in mind, Mike decided to suicide the doors. To accomplish the job from scratch and keep the modification unnoticeable (until they opened anyway) he designed and fabricated custom door hinge assemblies.
Once the suicide door conversion was completed Mike turned his attention to the interior of the cab. Figuring the new door treatment would allow a more expansive interior view he again designed an all-steel custom dash and center console. And since he was on a roll, he didn't leave the bed alone either. Mike extended the rear stake pockets on either side of the bed and fitted both with Cadillac taillight assemblies. He also added a rolled rear pan, raised the bed floor, fabricated a pair of small wheeltubs, and fashioned a pair of hidden tailgate hinges and latches as well. So with the body mods and prep completed from the firewall rearward Mike decided to save some time and effort by purchasing all new front sheetmetal, which ended up needing a fair amount of help to meet his high standards – so much for saving time and elbow grease.
After finishing the complete rolling chassis, paint and all, and with the full driveline installed and all of the bodywork, paint prep, edging, jamming, and the sheetmetal hung, his first son was born. This was followed closely by two more. As you might imagine, this put the project on the back burner for a while. In fact, it simmered on that burner for eight years.
Then, about a year or so ago, with his oldest son beginning to show an interest in cars (and all his pals hounding him to either finish the truck or sell it) he set himself a goal of finishing it for New Year's 2013. Diving back into the project he began with the hair-pulling job of lining up the gaps in the front sheetmetal. He started by whacking off 2 inches of the front hood lip and adding it to the upper grille bar. Next he lined up all of the hood and fender gaps, adding and removing metal until they were all perfect. After that chore was complete he then spent countless hours priming and blocking the pickup. When he was finally satisfied, he laid down a basecoat of white sealer followed by eight coats of a custom-mix (a mixture of three different House of Kolor pearls) color and four coats of Sikkens Autoclear III.
Mike's brother Steve (a veteran Chris Craft boat restorer) had fashioned a custom mahogany bed floor for the pickup which Mike stained by spraying and then hand-wiping off the orange pearl paint used on the truck body – letting the pearl in the wood grain. The "stained" mahogany was then treated to 12 coats of hand-rubbed clear and then installed in the bed with the use of stainless no-bolt bedstrips.
When it became time to tackle the interior Mike enlisted the help of his pals Jeff Redding and Eric Wunder, who started with the sound system. The Pioneer CD/DVD head unit was first followed by two Kicker amps, two Rockford Fosgate 10-inch subwoofers, and two 6¼-inch mids. The trio then fabricated and installed custom-made speaker enclosures and fashioned the other hard parts like door panels and storage compartments. Carpeting was then installed and the Honda buckets, door panels, and headliner were covered with mandarin Ultraleather. After that came glass installation and the final assembly like grille, lights, bumper, etc.
Mike says though it took a bit longer than expected, he never gave up, and the Chevy came out just as he'd pictured it in his mind 17 long years ago. Not bad for an owner-built classic pickup crafted in a two-car garage, wouldn't you say?
Frame: modified stock rails, shortened 12 inches, boxed, custom crossmembers, C-notched rear, tubular airbag bridge
Rear suspension: tubular airbag bridge, four-bar, Firestone airbags, triangulated Panhard bar
Rearend / ratio: 1969 Camaro 10-bolt / 3.55:1
Rear brakes: 11-inch disc
Front suspension: Fatman MII crossmember, adjustable upper A-arms by Scott's Hot Rods, Heidt's 2-inch drop spindles, RideTech airbags
Front brakes: 11-inch disc
Steering box: rack-and-pinion
Front wheels: Boyd Coddington New Wave, 18x8
Rear wheels: Boyd Coddington New Wave, 20x10
Front tires: BFGoodrich 245/45ZR18
Rear tires: BFGoodrich 275/40ZR20
Gas tank: stainless by No Limit Engineering
Engine: 2002 Trans Am LS1
Valve covers: stock
Manifold / Induction: stock / injected
Ignition: stock GM
Exhaust / Mufflers: custom 2½-inch stainless by owner / Flowmaster Hushpower II
Transmission: GM 4L60E
Style: second-series pickup
Modifications: shaved door handles locks and mirrors, relocated fuel filler, all seams joints firewall door jambs cargo bed and spot welds smoothed, rear stake pockets lengthened, suicide doors with owner-fabricated hinges, power one-piece side glass, big-window conversion, hood front trimmed 2 inches and added to grille top, owner-fabricated inner fenders and rear wheeltubs
Bed: Mar-K, mahogany bed wood stained with body color
Fenders front / rear: modified stock
Hood: modified stock
Bodywork and paint by: owner
Paint type / Color: House of Kolor / custom mix by owner
Headlights / Taillights: halogen / 1980s Cadillac
Outside mirrors: nope
Bumpers: smoothed front, rear rolled pan
Dashboard: custom dash and center console fabricated by owner
Gauges: Dakota Digital
Air conditioning: Vintage Air, owner-fabricated venting
Stereo: Pioneer, Rockford Fosgate
Steering wheel: Billet Specialties
Steering column: ididit
Seats: modified Honda Prelude
Upholstery by: Jeff Redding and owner
Material / Color: Ultraleather / mandarin