1955 - The Last 5 Window
1955 Was A Pivotal Year For Chevrolet
From the May, 2010 issue of Custom Classic Trucks
By Gerry Burger
It all began in the summer of 1947, introduced as a late '47 model the all-new Chevrolet truck replaced the postwar 1946-47 Chevrolet offerings. It was huge step forward since the truck it replaced was little more than a rehashed 1941 model. It was dubbed "the cab that breathes" and Chevrolet bragged there were at least 30 new improvements on the truck, including the new alligator hood. The truck was well received and served Chevrolet customers well. While undergoing a series of relatively minor changes over the years, the truck remained popular up to the end of the run when the new 1955 Chevrolet truck was introduced as a mid-year model on March 25, 1955.
It is interesting to note that this basic design was introduced as a mid-year 1947 offering and ended when the 1955 mid-year model was introduced. Of course, while this run of Chevrolet trucks was coming to an end, there were plenty of new things happening with Chevrolet. This was a historic year for Chevrolet and not only was the 1955 Chevy truck completely new, it also was the first truck available with the new Chevrolet V-8. Known as the Trademaster 265 engine, it was big news for the second series '55 Chevrolet.
The first series '55 Chevrolet was basically a '54 Chevy with no real changes, although tubeless tires were offered on 1/2-ton trucks for the first time in 1955. The one-piece windshield, optional automatic transmission, and new single-bar grille were carried over onto the first series 1955 models. For hot rodders this was the last year of the coveted five-window cab, and for truck lovers like Owen and Joyce Walter, there is just nothing like a five-window Chevrolet truck.
Now, Owen, or O.W. as his friends call him, has had a string of fine street rods and he currently operates O.W.'s Street Rods in Concord, North Carolina. Included in that string of street rods was another five-window Chevrolet truck that was sold, which was followed almost instantly with seller's remorse. While Joyce had originally approved the sale, within a week she was longing to have that old truck back. Working on the longtime adage "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." O.W. launched a search for a second five-window truck. As so often happens there seemed to be an abundance of regular cabs but finding a decent five-window truck took the better part of a year, even in North Carolina truck country.
As it turns out the wait was worthwhile as they finally located a good, solid first series 1955 Chevrolet truck. After removing the cab, bed, and sheetmetal the chassis was blasted to bare metal before O.W. installed the Fatman Fabrications independent front suspension. Out back the spring eyes were reversed to lower the truck and a 10-bolt Chevrolet rear was bolted to the parallel leaf springs. The drum brakes remain on the rear axle, while up front GM disc brakes mount to the Fatman spindles. A Brake Tech master cylinder and an 8-inch booster from Vette City complete the brake package.
While Chevrolet never offered the venerable small-block V-8 under the hood of the first series '55 Chevrolet, O.W. figured that was just an oversight so he transplanted 350 cubic inches of Chevy's finest under the hood. The 350 cubic inches produce one pony per inch thanks to the talents of engine builder Jimmy Damron. The engine was built for the long haul so things are kept conservative with a single Edlebrock carburetor feeding the engine and breathing through a flame-painted twin-snorkel breather. Stock HEI ignition remains in service, while Sanderson headers pass the exhaust through a pair of Super Turbo mufflers.
After the plumbing, painting, and detailing was completed on the chassis it was time to begin the bodywork. The truck carries a number of tasteful modifications inside and out ranging from frenched headlights and '37 Ford taillights to a forward-opening hood and a smooth step bumper. The center seam on the hood was welded and filled and all emblems were removed from the truck. Custom panels under the bed tuck neatly beneath the cab and the vent windows and exterior door handles have been removed. The center bar was removed from the grille and custom turn signals reside where the stock units were once found. The tailgate has been relieved of its chains and latches and the stake pockets are sculpted neatly. While this may sound like a lot of modifications, the interesting thing is you have to look long and hard to notice them.
When it came time for paint Chevrolet Hugger Orange was applied by O.W. followed by a set of Z/28-inspired stripes extending from the hood, up over the cab, and down the hard tonneau cover and tailgate. It is a unique look and the Z/28 theme continues to the wheels with chrome-plated 17-inch Chevrolet Camaro wheels wrapped with Nitto rubber. Longtime pinstriper Eddie Brown added the final details in the paint department.
The cabin on the five-window is the highlight of the truck. Since this was a 1955 truck, O.W. thought it would be fitting to adapt a 1955 Chevy passenger car dashboard to the truck. The narrowed dash fits the mood of the truck perfectly and comfortable seating comes in the form of two modified bucket seats from an '89 Bonneville. A Chevy van supplied the steering column and associated shifter, while Lokar pedals and emergency brake dress up the floor area. Electrical needs are handled by an American Autowire harness and Vintage Air is called on for climate control. Sew Fine handled the stitching of the tan leather and the installation of the '55 Chevy passenger car carpeting.
The truck's unique Z/28 theme draws a lot of attention, and we're certain there is the occasional offer tendered, but we're betting Joyce Walter isn't going to let this one get away anytime soon.