Sentimentality can make us do crazy things. We fill our houses, garages, and storage areas with things that we'll never use again but just can't bring ourselves to part with. In most cases these items bring us back to a time or person that we connect the piece with. That in itself is generally reason enough to hang onto to something no matter how much our reasonable mind might try to convince us that we should just ditch it.

The sentimental items you hang onto might not be as large as this '65 Chevy panel, but the emotional connection may be as strong. John Dariano's connection with the truck goes back to 1967 when he worked for his father's painting company--using the panel to haul paint and supplies to the job sites. When not being used for official company business, the panel was pushed into service as transportation and sleeping quarters for family camping and fishing trips. John boasts that they took it offroad into areas that it probably shouldn't have gone but that it never let them down.

The panel lasted longer at the painting business than John did, but when it was finally retired, it didn't exactly have it easy. It sat at John's brother's business, exposed to the elements for almost twenty years and waiting for its second chance at life. Unfortunately, John's brother passed away before he was ever able to get started on it. Because his brother's wife knew it had to stay in the family, she passed it on to John.

The panel's dilapidated condition was more than John could handle, so he put his trust and the panel into the capable hands of the crew at Kenny's Rod Shop. The plan called for the finished product to be nice but drivable. The truck was torn down to the bare essentials, and then the chassis was cleaned up and powdercoated black to make maintenance easy. Kenny's called on Early Classic Enterprises to supply the suspension components to get the panel down closer to the roadway while still providing a reliable and suitable ride. A stock GM crate 350 backed by a 700-R4 continues the simple proven combination.

Fin's Customs and Classics had their work cut out for them when it came time to remove over 30 years of abuse and neglect from the massive body. The final result looks like it was blocked with a yardstick. The two-toned paint scheme laid down by Dean Massey complements the slab-sided bodylines perfectly.

The once utilitarian paint-splattered interior void is now home to several leather hides and more stereo and video equipment than you'd find in most houses (which is fitting since the rear seating area is about the size of small living room.)

Now that the panel is done, John couldn't be happier with the job done by all involved and says he wouldn't change a thing. And best of all, John's sentimental keepsake is not tucked away in the corner out of sight; it gets used regularly--keeping him in touch with his younger days and his family that helped make them so special.

F A C T S & F I G U R E S
John Dariano
San Jose, California
1965 Chevrolet Panel
CHASSIS
Frame stock
Modifications powdercoated
Rearend / Ratio '82 Chevy / 3.73 Posi
Rear suspension Early Classic Enterprises 4" dropped coils, Bilstien shocks
Rear brakes GM discs
Front suspension Early Classic Enterprises 2" dropped spindles and coils, Bilstien shocks
Front brakes GM discs
Steering box GM power
Front wheel make, size Billet Specialties Vintec Dish, 17x8 (5" bs)
Rear wheel make, size Billet Specialties Vintec Dish, 17x9.5 (4" bs)
Front tire make, size BFG G-Force T/As, 245/45ZR17
Rear tire make, size BFG G-Force T/As, 255/50ZR17
Gas tank custom by Tanks A-Lot, Turlock, CA
ENGINE
Year and make '03 GM
Displacement 350 ci
Camshaft GM
Heads GM
Valve covers GM
Manifold / Induction Edelbrock RPM / Edelbrock 600-cfm
Ignition / Wires GM HEI
Headers Sanderson
Exhaust / Mufflers custom dual / Flowmaster three-chamber
TRANSMISSION
Make and model GM 700-R4
Modifications 2,300 stall
Shifter Lokar
BODY
Body style / Material panel / steel
Manufacturer Chevrolet
Modifications emblems removed, firewall smoothed
Fenders front/rear stock
Hood stock
Grille stock
Bodywork & Paint by Fins Customs & Classics, Turlock, CA
Paint type / Color PPG / Sunburst Orange, Pearl White
Headlights / Taillights H-4 / stock
Outside mirrors stock
Bumpers stock
INTERIOR
Dashboard smoothed stock
Gauges Dakota Digital
Air conditioning Vintage Air
Stereo Sony AM/FM/CD,HiFonics 880-watt amp, Rockford separates
Steering wheel Billet Specialties Vintec
Steering column ididit tilt
Seats '96 Tahoe front, Astro van rear
Console '96 Tahoe
Upholstery by Leon's Auto Upholstery
Material / Color leather / two-tone tans
Carpet German wool