1949 Chevrolet 3100 - The Grille That Caught My Eye
Eric Clapton's '49 Chevy
From the November, 2011 issue of Classic Trucks
By Wes Drelleshak
Photography by Scott Papiro
As I have mentioned before in a past editorial, it's the subtle details and overall craftsmanship that can make or break a finished product. In this case, Roy Brizio of Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco, CA, built a one-off masterpiece pickup for the musician Eric Clapton that has beauty, wits, plus a whole lot of class. If you have been anywhere but under a rock since the '60s then you know who Eric Clapton is. Clapton, in my book, is one of the greatest guitar players and vocalists who ever lived, and during the creation of this feature write-up I happened to stumble upon a YouTube video of a live performance of "Same Old Blues" with Mark Knopfler on lead guitar and Phil Collins on drums.
The lines of communication between Eric and Roy were wide-open thanks to a recently completed '49 Ford Coupe he built for Eric. Eric approached Roy, wanting to build a truck, so they started to look at what style of pickup Eric was looking at building. Eric chose the '49 Chevy for his next project. Roy then ran some ideas past Eric that he would like to see in the truck if he were to build one for himself. Eric was very interested in the project so Roy had Thom of Thom Taylor Design do a few renderings of the '49 to give Eric a peek at what he was imagining in his head. It is amazing how many ideas can be fleshed out by working with a professional graphic artist to shed light on them.
Roy then got started on finding a complete Chevy truck to start the build, but as with most older trucks, rust had taken over inside the cabs. Roy searched for a few more days with no luck; until he thought why not replace the cab with a new one from Dynacorn. With the new cab in the shop a few subtle body changes were in order, like chopping the cab 1 inch and channeling the cab over the frame 2 inches. The front fenders are raised 1 inch and the headlight buckets were welded into the fenders to give a smoother look. The hood was also sectioned to 1 inch to match the front fenders. Total Cost Involved (TCI) made a custom frame and the wheelbase shortened 4 inches, plus the steering was configured for right-hand drive. One-off running boards had to be made to match the custom TCI frame and modified fenders. The tailgate was smoothed of lettering but still retained the factory shape. Bed stake pockets were slightly extended and the tailgate hinges were polished. The window trim was made with care to cover the entire window opening and give it that understated finished look.
Clapton's '49 was placed in the Brizio Street Rods display booth during the 2011 Grand National Roaster Show, and when I first saw it the grille caught my eye. So much so that I stood there and looked at it for several minutes trying to figure out which vehicle the grille was based off. It turns out Brizio and crew reworked a '49 Ford Custom grille to fit the '49 Chevy truck opening. If you have ever tried sheetmetal fabrication then you know that matching two metal pieces from dissimilar vehicle makes is no easy task, but somehow Brizio's crew made the grille match perfectly with the turn signals.
We asked Eric what he would do differently if he had the opportunity? He said, "Nothing. I love it just the way it is." With the busy career that Eric has, where he finds the time to build a truck to this caliber with Roy Brizio is simply amazing and we can't wait to hear stories about Eric driving his '49 Chevy in the U.K.
1949 Chevrolet 3100
Frame: TCI, wheelbase shortened 4"
Rearend / Ratio: Currie 9" / 3.00
Rear suspension: TCI four-link
Rear brakes: disc
Front suspension: TCI IFS
Front brakes: disc
Steering box: rack-and-pinion
Front wheels: 16x7 Billet Specialties Legacy
Rear wheels: 17x8 Billet Specialties Legacy
Front tires: Goodyear Eagle 225/60R16
Rear tires: Goodyear Eagle 255/60R17
Gas tank: No Limit
Engine: Edelbrock Chevy 350 create motor, 363 hp
Heads: Edelbrock Performer
Valve covers: Billet Specialties
Headers: Sanderson 2¼"
Exhaust / Mufflers: custom by Brizio Street Rods / stainless
Transmission: GM TH400 by Goldengate Transmissions of Pleasanton, CA
Style: '49 Chevy 3100
Fenders front: raised 1"
Hood: sectioned 1"
Grille: '49 Ford Custom reworked by Brizio Street Rods
Bodywork and paint by: Vintage Color Studio of Concord, CA. Darryl Hollenbeck
Paint type / Color: PPG / custom mix
Headlights / Taillights: stock frenched / '46 Ford
Outside mirrors: stock
Bumpers: front, '49 Ford Custom / rear, '50 Chevy pickup shortened
Dashboard: custom by Brizio Street Rods
Gauges: Classic Instruments
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Stereo: Classic Radios, iPod
Steering wheel: Nardi
Steering column: ididit
Seats: bench, Glide Engineering
Upholstery by: Sid Havers
Material / Color: Leather / Tan
Carpet: German fine tuft