1948 Chevy Pickup - Ol Blue
By Joe Greeves
John Pruitt, from Abbeville, South Carolina, loves vintage trucks and builds them for a living in his shop, named appropriately enough, John's Rods Shop. A longer cab was part of the plan for the '48 from the outset. John says the extended cab bug bit him a long time ago, since he is tall and enjoys a little extra legroom. A second cab simplified the process of making a long one from two, stretching the original cab a full 20 inches. With the rough cab in place, he and his team began engineering a chassis to fit.
The rear suspension is John's own design, using a three-link with a pair of 34-inch long trailing arms on each side and a centrally mounted, 5-foot long torque-arm that connects the chassis to the rearend. A two-piece driveshaft connects the engine to the 9-inch Ford rearend with 3.70:1 gearing and disc brakes. Instead of a standard Panhard bar, John built a track bar that keeps the rear axle movement down to less than 0.003 inches back and forth. Fatman Fabrication tubular upper and lower control arms updated the frontend, using Mustang II geometry and disc brakes. ShockWaves on the front and Tapered Sleeve bags in the rear from Air Ride Technologies gave the truck adjustable altitude. The New Generation controller from AccuAir maintains a precise ride height. Bags are filled from the 10-gallon reserve tank pressurized by a heavy-duty, two-cylinder Oasis compressor through 1/2-inch lines. The powder-coated chassis became a roller thanks to 18x8 Budnik wheels and BFG 235/50ZR18 rubber.
Body mods on the '48 began with the front fenders, taken from a '56 Olds. The entire top half of the Olds fender, along with the headlight bezel and peaked sheetmetal, was grafted onto the original Chevy fender. The peaked hood was cut into four pieces and put back together minus a two-inch wedge cut. To flatten the Chevy's domed roof, three quarters of an inch was removed from the top, above the glass. All four side windows now operate at the touch of a button, thanks to NuRelics actuators. In the rear, the '94 Chevy Fleetside bed was narrowed, stretched, and fitted with '48 fenders. Quad taillights from a '55 Chevy truck were outlined with custom made chrome housings. When the pair of linear actuators open the aluminum tonneau cover, spectators are treated to a fully upholstered bed and tailgate, stitched in Cognac-colored leather that matches the interior. The bed uses a carefully constructed set of rain gutters that ensures everything inside stays dry. Running boards on the truck, built by Smoothie Fabrications, feature stainless steel strips that protect the painted surfaces. Finally, the side vents were removed, door handles shaved, an LED third brake light added, and Bob Drake Swan Neck side mirrors fitted to the doors.
Motive power was next and the truck runs a '95 LT1/700-R4 powertrain upgraded with a Comp Cam, Accel injectors, K&N filter, Zoops pulleys, and a custom-painted center cover. HPC headers and Flowmaster mufflers give the truck the proper performance sound. Lots of time was spent in the engine room fabricating new sheetmetal for the upper and lower radiator shroud, the inner fender panels, and the smoothed firewall. The fender panels hide the air-conditioning hoses, heater hoses, and wiring as well as the power steering reservoir and coolant overflow tanks. Even the underside of the hood sports custom sheetmetal. A U.S. Radiator with Spal fans keep temps in the green.
Inside, luxurious Escalade seats pamper driver and passenger, with fold-down armrests, heat, and 6-way power. Taking advantage of the extra room, the seats were relocated 6 inches rearward and the GM steering column with its Budnik wheel was moved back 4 inches. The custom dash positions the large 5-inch Auto Meter Sport Comp speedo and tach directly in front of the driver along with four individual gauges in the center. An overhead console mirrors the sleek center console that separates the buckets. Thanks to the stretch, the truck has room for a stereo with a rear-mounted enclosure holding two Bostwick 8-inch subs outboard and two 6.25-inch mids in the center. A pair of 5.25-inch components sets reside in the kick panels. Rockford Fosgate and Audiobahn amplifiers are hidden from view and a Sony head unit controls the stereo. Everything was upholstered in Cognac-colored leather with genuine crocodile accents by Chuck Hannah from Hot Rod Interiors in Mooresville, North Carolina. Phipps billet vents, lights, and door handles add a nice touch. Paint was accomplished in John's shop with Chris Ryan spraying the custom mixed blue metallic.
John, along with his son Jay and good friend Danny, have an estimated 5,000 hours in the Chevy but their new "shop truck" is a rolling work of art and was definitely worth the wait. The truck is always driven to events and if it gets a little road rash, John says it is more than offset by the huge smile on their faces as they are zooming down the road.