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1949 Chevrolet Pickup - Garage Scene

John Griffith's Flashback '49 Chevrolet Hanson, Massachusetts
October, 2007
By Chuck Vranas

Sometimes you can gain no greater satisfaction in life than to sit back, close your eyes, and remember when. With the flickering sound of an old movie projector echoing in the back of your mind, it's easy to relive some of those most memorable moments that bring a true smile to your face.

For John Griffith of Hanson, Massachusetts, hearing an old AM radio crackling on the porch as he spent time at his grandparents' farm in West Virginia in his early years brings back memories of when he first became consumed with classic trucks. Monday was always horse and cattle auction day, when his grandfather would head into town along with his neighbor, who just so happened to own a '49 Chevy pickup. To John, that truck held such a high power that it consumed every thought in his young mind. Sure, it was just a farm truck, but whenever he had a chance to sit in the bed or, better yet, go for a ride, his world went from black and white to full get the picture! Graduating from high school in '67, John's first ride came in the form of a sweet '55 Chevy as a gift from his dad, but as time moved forward he's always had a pickup in the stable.

Never forgetting his roots, John relocated to Massachusetts and was able to find a small farm to keep his dream alive as he raised his family and ran a business. The only thing that was missing from the mix was that darn '49 that still burned in his mind. One day, out of the blue, his brother-in-law Bo rescued the remains of a '53 Chevy hauler from a corn field in rural Connecticut. Bo hauled it to John's place, telling him it was the perfect start to build that vintage Chevy he'd been dreaming about forever. That's all it took to finally give him the push to get busy and build the truck of his dreams.

Everyone from New England knows that thanks to harsh winters, road salt eats vintage steel for a living, and once the '53 was thoroughly checked out, only its doors were salvageable. Armed with a pair of doors and unable to let the memories of the '49 rest, John set out to find a suitable cab and chassis to start a ground-up build. After scouring the area, he finally located an acceptable start for the project that was in decent shape through a local newspaper ad on a '49 cab and chassis. Finally, with the most critical parts of the build coming into place, he could now concentrate on exactly how the ideas for the truck could move forward.

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When John enlisted the help of Dennis MacPherson of DMC Racing and Peter Newell of Competition Specialties to take on the project, it was a perfect union, because the hauler racked up a killer stance and plenty of attitude that can't be missed.
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In a moment of tranquility at Pete's shop, we caught up with John as he put the finishing touches on the new Barry Grant Triple-D SixShooter system atop the hot Chevy mill in his pickup

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The front end is coming together nicely thanks to perfect-fitting reproduction fenders from Chevs of the 40's complemented by a new grille from Jim Carter Classic Truck Parts. DMC installed the frenched headlight conversion from Hagan to give the truck a cleaner front as well as a little more in the personality department.

An avid reader of CLASSIC TRUCKS, John was fully in tune with the myriad styles he could approach the build-up with, having pored over countless issues to design the perfect combination in his mind. The look would retain all the original body lines from the factory, enhanced by losing anything that caught his eye, like the two-piece hood, door handles, gas cap, and tailgate chains. It would also have to have a killer stance combined with great performance and reliability. To bring the dream to reality, John knew he would have to locate a builder who shared the same vision of what he hoped to achieve. A meeting with Dennis MacPherson of DMC Racing in Halifax, Massachusetts, was all it took. Dennis and his team brought endless capabilities to the table for both the sheetmetal restoration and custom fabrication required to take on a job of this magnitude.

Working from the ground up, the original chassis was boxed and treated to plenty of custom touches, including a TCI independent front end, while a healthy 355-cube small-block linked to a 700-R4 tranny was bolted into place. The cab received countless custom updates, including suicide doors, a smoothed dash, and a new Bitchin' firewall, while a brand-new MAR-K bed was ordered to bring the truck's rear back to life. The rollers for any project are always important since they set the pace, and here John chose a set of Budnik Famosas to bring plenty of contemporary dazzle into the mix.

With all the major fabrication completed, the truck was then brought over to Peter Newell at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, to prepare it for its final coating of icing and reassembly before it was off to the interior shop. All we can say is that this is one flashback we can hardly wait to see hit the streets!

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Smoothie steel running boards have been nicely fit between stock-replacement fenders, with a little accent flare added to the front leading edge.
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To give the '49 even more cool vibes, John decided it had to have suicide doors because they seem so inviting when you come up to the truck. Dennis placed a call to Hagan for one of their neat conversion kits for the doors and went to work. The end result was nothing short of wicked.
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The interior was gutted and freshened up with a Glide Engineering split-bench seat base for comfort on those long hauls, while a Billet Specialties tilt column will make navigating a cinch, especially with gear changes complemented by one of Lokar's Nostalgia shifters.

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John wanted to retain the stock dash, so Dennis filled in all the unneeded areas and smoothed it out like glass for a real clean look. Vintage series gauges by Classic will be added into the mix, which should work well with the Billet Specialties tilt column, drop, and steering wheel.
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Wanting nothing but the best for the truck, John used a MAR-K steel bed with their smooth tailgate, complemented by a set of fresh rear fenders from Chevs of the 40's. Check out the rolled rear pan with its incorporated license plate area, fresh hinges, and cutouts ready for a pair of custom taillights.
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Out back, DMC reworked the stock factory spine by boxing it and adding additional strength through tubular crossmembers while finishing it to a high level and dousing it with a shiny coating.
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Sneaking a peek into the truck's bed area, it's great to see the freshly painted chassis accented by plenty of fresh raw steel awaiting its fate once it hits the paint booth. In order to accommodate the sizable Budnik Famosa 18x12 wheels shod with Michelin 335/30R18 Pilot Sport radials, the team at DMC Racing fabbed up a neat little set of mini-tubs to keep everything friendly out back, making sure the wheels fit the openings perfectly.
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Bolted securely to a new TCI front clip, the power source for the hauler will most certainly wake the neighbors thanks to a vicious small-block that's been opened up to 355 cubes. It's set to breathe heavy through a set of Trick Flow polished heads that will suck plenty of air through a Barry Grant SixShooter induction setup, while a Vintage Air system will keep everyone in the cab cool.
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Sorting it all out up front is a dazzling March Performance serpentine pulley and belt system that will be sure to have everything ahead of the block working to its utmost efficiency.
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Taking in a quiet moment at the shop, Peter Newell (left) discusses some of the upcoming final fit and finish decisions with John as they get ready to lay down the final vibe on the truck that will surely make it a true standout once it rolls out of the spray booth.
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With almost all the design and fabrication work completed, John's '49 is just about ready to be blown apart for final paint. The truck has loads of classic character, plus just enough custom fabrication to make it a standout.


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