1952 Pickup - Makin' Do or Makin' Cool?
1952 Chevy Pickup - Makin' Do or Makin' Cool?
Steve Silva's '52 Chevy Will Stop You In Your Tracks
By Grant Peterson
The classic truck, street rod, hot rod, musclecar, or any form of altered vintage automobile stems from the ongoing desire for getting more out of what you already have. In simpler times, people dealt with this situation with a little more humility and more of a do-it-yourself attitude than we find in the world today. However, those with that original spirit helped create the vast wealth of knowledge and products we have to work with today.
We're proud to have a strong hands-on readership here at CLASSIC TRUCKS which is why it seems that there are less "credit card" trucks built by our readers than some of the other genres and we'd like to keep it that way.
Steve Silva falls into this down-to-earth category. His dad opened Mac's Garage in 1951, a shop in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, which he now owns and operates. Growing up in his dad's shop on Route 66 was hard work, but that spawned a healthy can-do-it attitude that he and his brother put to use in their father's wrecking yard. They made the best of the worst and learned things along the way that they'd use the rest of their lives in the automotive world. Steve started with bicycles and moved up the ladder to Cushmans, then motorcycles, and onto '57 Chevys. He even had a stint in dirt track racing.
These days, with a bit more length in his teeth and grey on his head, Steve is verifiably confident in his building abilities, which fueled the ever-present itch to put together another project. Forty-miles from his home, he found a clean one-owner '52 Chevy truck that started things snowballin'. With all the resources of the shop--which is now Steve's Garage--still at his disposal, things came together quickly.
One of the first things you'll notice about the '52 is its ultra-low stance. The simple chassis consists of a '70 Nova front clip that kept almost all of its stock parts, including brakes and power steering, with the exception of the Air Tech airbag system that was also employed in the rear. Steve built his own triangulated four-link out back to secure the Ford 9-inch that he assembled with a 3.50:1 posi. Looming not far above the rearend is a 2-inch C-notch to help set the running boards on the pavement. He also used a '55 Chevy passenger car gas tank mounted under the bed to get the original tank out of the cab, making things that much safer.
Once you get over the killer stance and start looking at the details, you'd have to be dead not to notice the dash that looks like it was taken from something that crash-landed at Roswell. After taking bets on what it came out of, Steve will tell you that it's a '60 Chrysler Newport dash complete with gauges, push-button shifter, steering wheel, and column. Everything works, too! He regularly earns a few bucks on that bet.
Carrying the Chrysler products theme into the engine bay, we find yet another outstanding detail--the '57 Dodge D500 Hemi. Not as popular as its bigger Chrysler brothers, the 325ci baby Hemi fits perfectly between the Chevy's fenders. The motor was one of the most difficult parts of the build, according to Steve. Finding and waiting for the right parts so he could assemble everything was frustrating, but worth it in the end. He kept everything on the inside pretty much stock for reliability's sake, and added the Offy/Carter dual-four combo for good measure with his own air cleaners that he made from Turbo 350 parts. The Rewarder 1 3/4-inch headers belch into a custom exhaust that his buddy, James "Bozo" Cordova, put together with 40-Series Flowmasters at his shop, Bozo's Garage. Steve built a '91 Chevy 4L65 trans and built an adapter to mate it to the Hemi. Everything stays remarkable cool in that desert heat, including Steve thanks to the Vintage Air.
Last, but certainly not least, is the paint--or lack there of. It's a matter of opinion, but you can't argue the functionality of the finish. Father Time and Mother Nature got together, and this is what they came up with. Steve added the subtle '50 Olds turn-signal bezels, and friend Bert Compos made the front bumper apron. The logo on the door, which should make sense given Steve's family history, was added deftly by Bobby Padilla.
The whole truck comes together to make one hell of a driver--plain and simple. To prove that fact, since August 12, 2005 when Steve pulled the '52 off the hoist for the first time, he didn't let up on the gas pedal. In November 2005, when we ran into him at the Goodguys Scottsdale event, he had logged more than 7,000 miles on the truck, 5,000 of which were its maiden voyage that took him all over the western half of the country. Steve doesn't want all the credit, and so he attributes a portion of his success to his brother, along with Bozo, Bert, Mike, and Don, who lent helping hands, especially toward the thrash at the end. Love it or hate it...either way you can bet Steve's havin' too much fun to care!