When most of us see a good-looking truck like this out and about, it's easy to get lost in the mods and the interesting things the owners do to personalize them. The story behind Seann Rowland's wholesome 1966 Chevy Fleetside just happens to be one that describes many who enter the rodstoration sphere...
Seann's overhaul began in 2007 as a 1966 rolling shell from Petaluma, California. It's a big back window, shortbed, custom cab Fleetside, with factory air. It was also equipped with full gauges, power brakes, and an automatic transmission. This was a great foundation for transformation, but as it turned out it would take more than his ambition to bring it to reality. He began tearing it down in a small open carport, covered nightly to hide the frame and boxes of parts. Soon after he started, he went through a divorce. Imagine what it's like to begin a teardown, have life turn upside down, and then have to cart a complete basket case to your friend's house and ultimately to a storage unit.
A few months went by, things calmed down, and he was finally able to haul it back to his house and carport. He got back to work painting the frame and adding Early Classic Enterprises drop spindles, springs, '70s GM power steering, and tubular A-arms. A dropped trailing arm crossmember and rear suspension, also from Early Classics, was followed by a new transmission mount for the incoming Gearstar 700-R4.
The 1966 is powered by a healthy 1965 283-cube small-block with cast-iron 58cc Power Pack heads, a hot factory cam, an Edelbrock Performer intake, and a matching 500-cfm carburetor. Exhaust gasses exit through an original set of cast-iron ram's-horn manifolds and Flowmaster mufflers transmit very distinct baritone notes through the exhaust pipes.
Later that year, and as a surprise, Seann's fiancée Toni hired a contractor and family friend to build him an "official" garage to work in. Gotta love a lady like that! Once the foundation and driveline were finished and the truck rolled into his new garage Seann began working on the pickup's exterior. Taking on paint and bodywork soon taught him that he's more of a mechanic than an artist. Luckily he had help from is "honorary" brother Ross Bellomy, and like a brother, he flew in from Reno, Nevada, for several long weekends.
Together they patiently straightened out and prepared the truck for paint. Hugger Orange was his color of choice, and these images capture the paint's intensity. Seann really blended the color tones well with black/white accents and lovely interior concept. The seat was sewn by Rick's Upholstery in Colombia, Tennessee, and they perfectly stitched a pattern designed by Seann as well. The instrumentation is OEM, but treated to custom white-face gauges.
The 48-year-old classic rolls on 15x7 Wheel Vintiques steelies (with bullet caps) wrapped in a quartet of Cushion-Air Candy Classic wide whites. The 3.73 differential ratio is comfortable for rolling the city or highway, and the powertrain is grateful too!
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge for Seann was the bed wood floor – sanding and re-sanding until he felt it was right, but he nailed it with the black finish and stainless strips! Seann credits his stepson Jake Layton and his neighbor Ken Haggard as important members of the build team. He still has some small items to finish, but as everyone who has built one knows, are they ever truly done?
I think when most people see this truck they'll assume a shop would've had a minor (if not major) role in the results. That's a testament to not only Seann and his support team's mechanical prowess, but his persistence to build on through life's sliders and curveballs. In his words, "Few people understand the sickness of the guys who live to build their mechanical daydreams." That's well said. Big thanks to Seann and crew, plus the fine folks at T-Bones Steakhouse in Phoenix for the awesome location!
1966 Chevy Fleetside
Rearend / Ratio: Factory 3.73 ratio
Rear suspension: Early Classic Enterprises
Rear brakes: Factory Drum
Front suspension: Early Classic Enterprises 2.5-inch drop spindles
Front brakes: 11-inch disc
Steering box: GM605
Front wheels: 15x7 Wheel Vintiques steelies with bullet hubcaps
Rear wheels: 15x7 Wheel Vintiques steelies with bullet hubcaps
Front tires: 15-inch Cushion Air Classic 3-inch whitewalls
Rear tires: 15-inch Cushion Air Classic 3-inch whitewalls
Gas tank: Factory
Engine: Factory 283
Heads: Factory cast-iron 58cc Power Pack
Valve covers: GM five-fin aluminum
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock 2101 Performer intake and carburetor
Ignition: GM HEI
Headers: Original cast-iron ram's-horn manifolds
Exhaust / Mufflers: Flowmaster 50
Transmission: 700-R4 by Gearstar Transmissions
Shifter: Stock column
Style: ½-ton Fleetside
Modifications: Shaved backup lights, custom cut smoke glass
Fenders front / rear: Factory
Pinstripe by: None
Paint type / Color: GM Hugger Orange
Headlights / Taillights: Factory
Outside mirrors: Passenger-side shaved
Bumpers: (Front) factory, (rear) factory
Gauges: Factory with custom white face modification
Air conditioning: Factory
Stereo: Sony CDX10 AM/FM CD
Steering wheel: Factory
Steering column: Factory GM tilt
Seats: Factory style bench
Upholstery by: Rick's Upholstery, Columbia, Tennessee
Material / Color: vinyl / black and white
Carpet: OEM black, cut pile