Fabulous Five Window
Author: Brian McCormick
Photography: Drew Phillips
A 1951 Chevy pickup truck built just for cruisin' and looking cool
In the custom truck world, history always has a way of repeating itself. By that I mean that it is more than common for someone to return to a particular make or model of vehicle they once owned when they were young. A prime example would be Baldwin Pedraza of Huntington Beach, California. Way back in the day, one of his first trucks was a 1951 Chevy. But at the time, he never had the money to fix it up and eventually sold it. Over the course of the several decades Baldwin tinkered with fixing up and selling a variety of classics, but never another 1951 Chevy. Then the day came when the kids were old enough to kick out of the house and Baldwin decided he wanted to build that truck he couldn't afford to for so long ago. His mission became to build a sweet looking '51 Chevy cruiser. I think when you finish reading this, you will agree it is definitely mission complete!
The exterior of the Chevy is straight old school original, which is exactly the look Baldwin was going for. The Original body features were restored by Riteway Auto Paint as well as covering the vintage sheet metal in light blue metallic. South Bay Chrome hooked Baldwin up with a fresh finish for all of the chrome pieces. The only exception being new replacement products such as the Grille and bumpers from The Truck Shop. Once complete, the exterior of the truck looks pretty much all original. Even the cool window visor is a respectable relic from days gone by.
Of course, what really makes this truck come together and look sweet is the super slammed stance. Baldwin relied on Sully's Auto Repair to transform the old straight axle chassis into a smooth riding sled. This involved installing a TCI Mustang II IFS featuring tubular control arms, dropped spindles, rack & pinion steering and Camaro disc brakes. Firestone air bags and pumps make the front end adjustable as well as providing the ability to nearly sit the Running Boards on the pavement.
The rear work was done by KA Kustoms who replaced the Leaf Springs with a two-link, air bag suspension fitted to a Camaro disc brake rear end. Contitech bags in the rear help to bring the back end down equal to the front, as well as making the truck ride much better. Then came the wheels. Actually the whole story of this truck starts with the 15x7 and 15x8-inch Wheel Smith rally wheels. Before Baldwin thought about buying another truck, he was looking for a set of these Wheels to buy for a car he was working on. He found them one day at the swap meet, but they had a 51 Chevy attached to them and the owner didn't want to separate them. In the end, Baldwin bought the truck for the wheels, and nearly sold the truck. I think he realized some time later these Wheels just looked too good on this truck. Now equipped with Goodyear rubber, they look even better!
Under the hood lurks true Chevy power in the form of a small 350 engine. The 1976 350 was given a full rebuild at Sully's where an Edelbrock intake and 650 carb were added to the list. With the exception of Summit Racing pulleys and loads of chrome treatments to the exterior, the engine is pretty much stock. Perfect for what Baldwin planned on doing in this Classic cruiser.
When it came time to work on the interior, Baldwin found himself going for both a restored and a custom appearance. The dash now sports fresh chrome accents over the Original equipment while a modified gauge cluster from Golden State Truck Parts makes the factory Stovebolt Gauges work with the V8 engine. The seat is original, but the gray and silver leather upholstery installed by Imperial Upholstery obviously isn't. Add an ididit steering wheel and a Blaupunkt stereo system and Baldwin feels right at home in his clean Classic cruiser that definitely gets more than its share of looks.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA