1953 Chevrolet 3100 - Simplicity and Chevrolet
Written by Joe Greeves on April 30, 2016
The Theme for this Modern Antique
If there's any truth to that old remark that says kids are dragged through their parents' lives, it's probably a good indication of the way many of us became automotive enthusiasts. The exposure you get at an early age sets the tone for what's important to you during the rest of your life. Joey Todd from Little River, South Carolina, understands the concept well since his father owned Todd's Auto Service in nearby Marion. Dragged really isn't the right word since growing up around cars and trucks instilled in Todd a love for vehicles at an early age. The experience was reinforced when he and his father rebuilt a 1970 Corvette Stingray back in 1983 and continued when Joey rebuilt a 1972 Chevy short wheelbase truck that he still owns. The fun repeated itself a few years ago when his father-in-law built a 1953 Chevy pickup, a project that acted as a catalyst for Todd's latest build. He fell in love with the classic lines of the old Chevy and began a search for one of his own.
This 1953 Bow Tie 3100 was found in the Virginia mountains, purchased because it was similar to his father-in-law's truck. Unfortunately, it was in horrible condition with trees literally growing through the body. It took a high level of determination along with a sharp chainsaw to get it out of the field, then a trailer to get it to Jeff Bennett of Wide Open Customs in Roanoke, Virginia. Although Jeff did the work, Joey provided the design input, keeping simplicity as the primary goal. "I don't like vehicles that are over the top," he told us. "Subtlety was the goal and the theme for this one was a truck that would fit right in on a Texas ranch." (Joey is a big fan of Texas and visits friends there regularly.) He describes the whole process as "a blast," beginning with researching everything from parts to paint. He also enjoyed the numerous feature vehicles in CLASSIC TRUCKS, putting his own spin on many of the good ideas found among the pages.
Since so much of the original truck was unusable, the rebuild began with a firm foundation, using an S-10 chassis to establish a modern suspension that incorporated disc brakes and power steering. Upgrades included 2-inch drop spindles and 2-inch lowering springs up front with 3-inch blocks in the rear. The conversion kit from E-Z Chassis Swaps simplified the process. The new platform also made it a cinch to slide in a 350 Chevy V-8 crate motor, blending perfectly with his "Simplicity and Chevrolet" theme. The 325hp engine is equipped with an Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor, electronic ignition, Sanderson headers, and Flowmaster mufflers. It goes quick and sounds great! A GM crate 700-R4 automatic completed the performance package, transforming the vintage farm truck into a smooth, reliable highway cruiser.
It's the body however, that took the most work to return it to modern standards. It was completely disassembled, sandblasted, and the collection of mishaps that occurred in its more than 60-year history were repaired. One of the fenders could not be salvaged and both doors were replaced with 1949 versions, primarily for their unique door handles. The cab was chopped a conservative 2 inches, still respecting the vintage lines but adding a subtle trim to the profile. Classic Parts provided the new grille, grille shell, and bumpers along with the all new pickup bed. Relocated to the new oak bed floor, the filler for the S-10 gas tank uses a polished cap. The truck finally became a roller thanks to the 16x6 black powdercoated, Wheel Vintiques Gennie rims wrapped in Diamond Back, wide white radials.
Moving inside, the Texas theme becomes even more apparent when you see the rich brown Cowboy Saddle leather, stitched by Kings Auto Upholstery in Roanoke, Virginia. The team began with a 1988 Chevrolet bench seat, cut down to match the dimensions of the 1953. Elegant hand stitching is everywhere, from the bench seat, custom door panels, and embossed floormats to the tailored leather boots on the shifter and handbrake. With a nod again to the "Chevy" theme, a carefully chosen 1959 Chevrolet steering wheel sits on top of a painted-to-match Flaming River tilt column. Alongside the wheel, the piston-topped, tall shifter from Lokar controls the automatic transmission while a full complement of modern white-faced analog gauges from Classic Instruments resides in the modified dash. Subtle creature comforts in this modern antique begin with sound deadening throughout, Vintage Air with controls and vents built into a custom lower dash panel, and a modern Kenwood stereo receiver hidden behind the chrome grille, playing through 6.5-inch component sets hidden in the kick panels.
The final step was paint and Joey says, "It took me a year to finally decide on the color. Knowing that paint is what gives a person the first impressions of your truck, it was important for me to pick a color that had not been seen a whole lot. I think I found it." After all that time, we're going to call his custom-mixed shade "Joey Todd Green." The final accents came from the team at Hi Voltz in Roanoke, Virginia, who provided the subtle green pinstriping as well as the light green tint on all the window glass.
How is the truck to live with? "Now that it's done," Joey says, "we just love to take it out on the road. It's the perfect truck for a cruise since it is so pleasurable to drive, especially when my wife, Jackie, and daughter, Zoe, are with me. It's crazy and sometimes a little scary, however, when so many people try to photograph us when we're traveling. I've only had my truck for a few months and have entered it in just a couple of truck shows but I've already won Top Truck (twice) and a Best of Show. Although I love taking my truck to shows, I'm more of a cruising around kind of guy. So if you see me coming down the road, give me a big wave (but please be careful with those smartphones!)"
1953 Chevy 3100 Pickup
Little River, SC
Frame: 2003 S-10 Frame
Modifications: E-Z Chassis Swaps conversion kit
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
Rear Suspension: Factory with 3-inch lowering blocks
Front Suspension: Factory with 2-inch drop spindles and 2-inch lowering springs
Steering: Chevrolet power steering
Front Wheels: 16-inch Wheel Vintique Gennies, powdercoated black
Rear Wheels: 16-inch Wheel Vintique Gennies, powdercoated black
Front Tires: Yokohama Mirada 215/70-16 radials with Diamond Back wide white sidewalls
Rear Tires: Yokohama Mirada 235/70-16 radials with Diamond Back wde white sidewalls
Gas Tank: S-10 18.5 gallons
Engine: 2014 Crate Motor 350 V-8, producing 325 hp
Valve Covers: Offenhauser
Manifold/Induction: Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor, Edelbrock Performer intake
Headers: Sanderson headers
Transmission: 700-R4 automatic
Shifter: Lokar tall shifter stick
Body: all-steel, 2-inch top chop
Grille: Classic Parts
Bed: Classic Parts bed with oak slats and stainless steel strips
Bodywork and Paint: Wide Open Customs, Roanoke, VA
Paint Type/Color: Custom Formula Green
Outside Mirrors: Classic Parts
Bumpers: Classic Parts
Dashboard: custom dash by Jeff Bennett, Wide Open Customs
Gauges: Classic White from Classic Instruments
Conditioning: Vintage Air
Stereo: Kenwood head unit hidden behind the chrome grille with 6.5-inch component sets hidden in the kick panels
Steering Wheel: 1959 Chevy
Steering Column: Flaming River
Seats: 1988 Chevrolet bench seat trimmed to fit
Upholstery: Kings Auto Upholstery, Roanoke, VA
Material/Color: Brown Cowboy saddle leather
Carpet: Mercedes Brown