Sometimes many of life's best laid plans find you at an early age. It's a time in your growth cycle where opportunities to shape your future appear and mold the path you're on. For a young Ron Parese of North Haven, Connecticut, growing up in a family with three uncles who owned a well-respected local mechanical and bodyshop since 1935 gave him plenty of opportunity to be surrounded by cool cars and trucks on a regular basis.
Two of his good friends, Paul and Dave Cote, worked along with him in the telecom industry for nearly 35 years. Over these years he watched the pair build a number of classic trucks in their small two-car garage, which made him long for another 1951 Chevy. Finally a few years ago while visiting the Cote's home shop in Prospect, Connecticut, he noticed a new arrival which had been discovered locally. It was a 1951 Chevy cab and frame that Paul had purchased as a base for a new personal project. Knowing how passionate Ron had been in looking for a donor truck to start his own project with, the base was offered up and Ron gladly accepted, but only if Paul would take on the build at his home garage. Paul accepted and wasted no time in getting started.
There might have been only a cab and frame to start with, but the parts were in really solid shape having been through decades of East Coast winters. So to remove years of abuse off the vintage steel, Paul first mediablasted everything clean, revealing a rock-solid frame and relatively decent sheetmetal on the cab. To build a well-balanced base a call was placed to Chassis Engineering, Inc. for a number of their high-quality suspension components. Out back an 1984 Chevy Impala rear packed with 2.73:1 gears was suspended in place with their complete bolt-on rearend mounting kit featuring all related shock and spring mounts. A pair of 2½-inch slider-style leaf springs combined with tube shocks and matching rear sway bar perfectly anchored the rear in place. To give the truck great handling and a perfect stance, Chassis Engineering's bolt-in front IFS crossmember with a 2½-inch adjustable spring pods was secured in place. The unit was then deftly matched to their tubular upper and lower A-arms with matching spindles, coil springs, gas tube shocks, and sway bar to complete the package.
When the time comes to hit the brakes, fluid pushes through a dual master to steel lines with 11-inch drums out back and 11-inch discs wearing two-piston calipers at the front. Wanting to give the truck a signature retro look, Ron selected a set of 15-inch artillery-styled wheels from Motorsport, Inc., and capped them with BFGoodrich wide whites, caps and rings to seal the deal.
When deciding on the right mill for the truck, Ron ideally wanted a perfect balance of performance and dependability allowing him plenty of bang for the buck. He decided on keeping the truck all-Chevy and contacted Chevrolet Performance for one of its top-notch 350ci/290hp crate V-8s packed with all the right goodies. The freshly cast block with four-bolt mains was filled with a nodular iron crank linked to steel connecting rods capped with cast aluminum 8.0:1 pistons, while a hydraulic flat tappet cam sets the beat. Iron cylinder heads with 76cc chambers get a workout with a trio of Rochester 2G carbs perched atop an Edelbrock triple-deuce intake. Spark moves through a Performance Distributors D.U.I. unit, while spent gasses flow through a custom exhaust to Flowmaster mufflers. To plant the power, a warmed-over TH350 by Dynamic Racing Transmissions complete with a shift kit makes sure the goods get delivered.
When it came time to address the cab, Paul wasted no time in identifying the problem areas. Remarkably the only panel replacement required was to the bottom of the doors. For this he contacted Truck Shop in Orange, California, for lower door repair sections and immediately installed them. Since there was no other sheetmetal for the project he ordered up fresh stock replacement panels from Truck Shop, including front fenders, bumpers, chrome grille, complete bed with roll pan, and any miscellaneous parts.
Wanting to run an original hood, Paul used three donor hoods to make one, but it was worth the effort. The passenger side heater vents were also eliminated to allow for a nice smooth feel to the cowl side. Once all the fabrication was complete, all the sheetmetal was turned over to Dennis the Body Man of nearby Waterbury to set the gaps and massage to perfection. Once completed, he gave the reins to Gary Quenneville of Thomaston, who loaded his spray gun with plenty of PPG Tuxedo Black to lay down a mile-deep coating of seductive vibe. The legendary One Arm Bandit was then called in to work his special magic applying classic gold leaf on the lettering across the tailgate.
To complete the build and design a tasteful business office, Ron contacted Wise Guys for one of their extra-comfy bench seats wrapped in supple tan leather accented by black loop carpeting from LMC Truck. A stock dash was then filled with dials from Classic Instruments, while cool breezes come from Vintage Air. Navigation moves through a reproduction 1959 Chevy Impala steering wheel by Old Dog Street Rods mounted to an 1984 Chevy Impala tilt unit with column shift to an 1987 T-bird rack-and-pinion.
The finished truck has loads of class balanced with plenty of handling and performance. Not bad for being built in a little two-car garage! Ron wanted to also thank Jim Wilkos of Wintec Fabrication in Wallingford for sourcing all of the speed parts needed throughout the build. Great job Ron, we think your uncles would be proud. By the way, we thought it was most fitting to shoot the truck in front of the family's original bodyshop.
1951 Chevrolet 3100
North Haven, Connecticut
Modifications: Chassis Engineering bolt-in front crossmember with adjustable upper spring pods and transmission crossmember installed by Paul Cote / builder
Rearend / Ratio: 1984 Chevy Impala / 2.73:1
Rear suspension: Chassis Engineering, 2½-inch slider leaf springs with gas shocks and matching sway bar
Rear brakes: 11-inch drum
Front suspension: Chassis Engineering IFS with tubular upper and lower A-arms, matching spindles, coil springs, tube shocks and sway bar
Front brakes: 11-inch disc with two-piston caliper
Steering box: 1987 Thunderbird rack-and-pinion
Front wheels: Motorsport, Inc. Artillery-style 15x7
Rear wheels: Motorsport, Inc. Artillery-style 15x8
Front tires: BFGoodrich P215-65R15
Rear tires: BFGoodrich P235-70R15
Gas tank: 1984 Chevy Blazer
Engine: Chevrolet Performance 350ci / 290hp crate V-8
Valve covers: Mooneyes
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock triple deuce / Rochester 2Gs
Ignition: Performance Distributors D.U.I.
Headers: Chevy rams horn-style
Exhaust / Mufflers: 2-inch steel to muffler, 2½-inch steel out / Flowmaster
Transmission: TH350 by Dynamic Racing Transmissions
Modifications: shift kit
Shifter: 1984 Chevy Impala column shifter
Modifications: Truck Shop, rear roll pan
Fenders front / rear: Truck Shop, stock replacement
Grille: Truck Shop, stock chrome replacement
Bed: Truck Shop, stock replacement bed
Bodywork and paint by: Dennis the Body Man / Gary Quenneville, painter
Paint type / Color: PPG / black
Headlights / Taillights: Truck Shop, stock replacement / Truck Shop, chrome LED
Outside mirrors: Truck Shop, stock replacement
Bumpers: Truck Shop, stock replacement
Pinstriping / Gold leaf: One Arm Bandit
Gauges: Classic Instruments
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Stereo: small-block V-8
Steering wheel: 1959 Impala, Old Dog Street Rods
Steering column: 1984 Chevy Impala tilt
Seats: Wise Guys bench
Upholstery by: Wise Guys
Material / Color: leather / tan
Carpet: black loop