Congratulations on the new classic truck gig. I've always liked your articles and followed your writing since you had that '57 Ranchero with the Desoto grille. (Still can't look at a Ranchero without picturing that grille choice.)
Your '57 Chevy project is a great choice-a favorite year, especially with the unique grille and the one-year-only ribbed hood, similar to the '57 cars. The small-window cab is certainly what most people can afford, with the Big-Window becoming pricey.
You said you'd like to tow with the truck, and that gave me the idea of perhaps a theme. I'd consider modeling it after the '50s push trucks we see in all the old shots of drags and Bonneville events. Build it beefy; perhaps even consider using 3/4-ton suspension and still keeping it relatively low. Along that theme, I'd get out the various tube benders available and bend up some unique front push bars, rear nerfs, perhaps even try and duplicate the floating grille in tubing. I've always thought that replacing the Stepside rails with larger diameter tubing would look sharp, and even radiusing the corners so they flow around the front of the bed seamlessly. If you ran the tubing completely around the bed, perhaps you could create a tailgate that flowed out of the tube.
Carrying the theme a little further, replacing the hood ribs with larger tubing would add some brawn to the look. I look at all the different ways the '57 car hoods have been modified, and it should work as well to the truck. For the cab, look to the '88-99 Chevys for cab lights with clear lenses, they're fairly low profile and don't require much for installation. The interior of these trucks is great to begin with, so not much is needed except air/heat and stereo (for talk radio).
I'm a fan of the suede/flat black look, with more of a satin appearance. DuPont hot rod black looks good. I'd look to accent the satin with certain areas in gloss, like the cab roof. I've seen eight-lug reversed wheels advertised, and if you got them in chrome with large baby moons the look would certainly confuse folks.
Finally the engine choice I'd make is the W motor, with a healthy 409 mated to the TH400. Hey, they always called them truck motors, right?
Good luck with your project. Look forward to seeing how it comes out.
Thanks for your suggestions. I hadn't given any thought to the push truck theme and it's definitely worth consideration. The towing I'd mentioned is nothing really heavy-duty just your typical camper trailer so I don't foresee having to upgrade to overly stout suspension. The body mods you suggest are a definite possibility. I'd originally planned on just repairing the small bit of rust and trying to get the sheetmetal straight enough that it doesn't become the friendliest truck in town (waving at everyone as it goes by, if ya catch my drift). Unfortunately the truck came with a '55 hood so it's smooth rather than having the hood ribs like the '57 version-though, I guess I could modify it using the larger diameter tubing you spoke of. The push/nerf bars may well be incorporated too, that'd go a long way in achieving the push truck look you suggest. The W motor is another neat idea, but I think because of budget constraints I'll be sticking to a small-block/TH400/9-inch combo. Anyway, thanks again for the ideas. I appreciate the input. Who knows, you may well see the push truck theme come to fruition!
Sorry for being so casual, but this is a casual subject. I am writing about your new project the '57 small window. I started on the same project approximately three to four years ago. Due to the economy (i.e. loss of job) my project has stalled. Sometimes (probably most times) things happen for a good reason. What I mean is because of my financial change I had to re-evaluate my project or give it up ... Not! So instead of doing a resto-mod using a TCI rolling chassis, buying maybe a crate engine, and in general having others do the custom work for me. I have now had to put an IFS and four-bar rear suspension by doing it myself (with welding help from a pro), and using 5.3L Vortex matched with its original transmission from a wreck, and using the original bench seat rather than a custom or undated Chevrolet Silverado pickup with integrated seatbelts. I was already planning on it being a "daily driver" with nice updated electronics, A/C, better sound/heat proofing (à la Dynamat), Autowire Classic Update wiring. I had the bodywork done on the cab (cab corners, hinges pockets, smoothed firewall, and gas tank opening) and the interior has been painted. So really I am going down the same road just more independently and more hands on than originally planned. And discovering just what I can really do in my own garage if I want to badly enough.
I hope you really expose your build process so we can see every phase, and let us know why you decided to use the items you did. It'd also be nice if you'd touch on other possible choices beyond the donated items from your advertising connections, because most of us in the real world can't get those, but still produce some nice, unique, individualized trucks.
I also should say I have learned a lot from your magazine. I am not a gearhead but am capable. I am willing to research and work at it too. Thanks for the great articles, pictures, and advertisements as well.
San Jose, California
Thanks for taking the time to drop me a line. It sounds as though you've got yourself a nice project going, and you've provided a great example of overcoming common obstacles-mainly the lack of funds we all experience. I'm happy you decided to alter your plan rather than putting it on hold or giving up totally.
Regarding my project, I'll do my best to show as much of the build as I can. The hardest part is finding the time to cover as much of it as possible while still meeting magazine deadlines, travel commitments, finances, and family life-in other words the same concerns we all have while building our classic trucks. In the coverage I do show in CT I'll try to be as specific as possible covering the items you mentioned. And keep in mind that I'm no professional builder either, just a rodder working out of a home garage like the rest of us. If you do have some specific questions in the future don't hesitate to drop me an email-I'll try and answer them to the best of my ability.