Short and sweet.
That's the little 59 Chevrolet step side that my youngest son and I rebuilt from the ground up. We spent almost six years off and on, as money permitted to complete the truck.
People don't realize the amount of labor and money it takes to restore an old truck compared to a passenger car of the same vintage. In general, old trucks were used as tools and not babied as most older cars were.
To do a frame up rebuild, there are usually more chassis and body problems to correct. The bodies were thrown together on the assembly line and not much thought was given to fit,finish or comfort, after all, they were just trucks.
So, besides living a rough life through heavy use, the restoration of a truck also requires refitting and trimming sheet metal to properly fit door openings, cab and box placement on the frame, etc.
Our 59 sat in a back yard for over fifteen years with the usual weeds growing up through the pick up box and rust throughout the lower body areas. After complete dis assembly we discovered that none of the box could be saved due to rust. We dis assembled the cab and found that there was so much rust in the doors that reproduction doors were purchased.
We built a rolling wooden frame to set the cab on to facilitate the rust repair/ replacement. Both step wells were rotted out along with the lower hinge pockets. We spent a year just removing and replacing the rusted lower areas. It was back and forth to the body shop as money permitted to complete the cab bodywork.
Next came the rolling chassis. We rebuilt the rear end, front I beam and brakes. New springs, shocks, and shackles were used. We also added six lug disc brakes to the front with a dual master cylinder under the floor boards,
.The original six was replaced with a small block V8. The three speed transmission was also discarded and a truck 4 speed added. The drive shaft was modified and rebuilt to work with the 4 speed.
Once the rolling chassis was done we concentrated back on the cab, finishing the body work and placed it on the frame. Next came the biggest nightmare, the doors. The aftermarket doors that we purchased didn't fit the openings. We trimmed and reshaped the doors until they fit and gaps were as they should have been. Again, this is something that the factory just didn't care about in 1959.
With the cab in place we mounted all of the front sheet metal and painted the cab, fenders and hood as a unit.
Because of the condition of the box, we ordered a complete new assembly and bed wood. We painted the box in pieces, re assembled it with new wood and runners and mounted it on the frame. All new chrome grill bumpers were added and the original emblems re plated.
At last it came time to install all new glass, rubber, door hardware and electrical, sealing the truck up. The original seat was done in leather, door panels and arm rests added with a new headliner.
The truck was now ready for the street. Pictures were taken to procure insurance coverage through Hagerty and the truck was finally backed out of the driveway under it's own power after almost six years of work.
To close, this was way more work, effort and money than we could have ever dreamed of investing. At times it caused tempers to fly and spirits to fall. But, this is something that our family has done together and now can enjoy. My son loves the truck and insists that it be put in my will. My wife now attends the car shows with me and will talk up the pride of her efforts in the truck as well. To date we have taken a first place in a classic truck show and been to a couple of Good Guy shows in Pleasanton, California.
We really love Short and Sweet, she is now a part of our lives.