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1948 Chevy Truck - I Can't Believe It's Not Pro-Built!

Brenda & Jeff Kuhn's '48 Chevy
August, 2007
By Grant Peterson

Select to EnlargeAs kids, we looked up to our parents in several ways-literally and as role models. Obviously, this begins to change when the teenage years ensue and our outlook on our parents makes an about-face. But as much as we may try, over time we suddenly find ourselves standing in our parent's shoes. Brenda Kuhn is no stranger to her parents and the world of hot rods, street rods, classic cars, and, of course, classic trucks. The only child spent her formative years from the age of 8 riding on the seat of any one of her parent's three '38 Willys going to rod runs, cruises, and all manner of car shows. She probably thought this was how life was for every little girl and boy, and in her mom and dad's circle of friends, it probably was.

Fast forward and we find Brenda married to a guy named Jeff, a car guy-coincidence? Dunno. At any rate, it worked out well for her and her dad, Fred. She got a great husband, and he got the gearhead son he always wanted! Much to the pleasure of both of the guys, Brenda said she wanted an old truck, and before the words could float out of her mouth, her dad was on the phone with a friend who happened to deal in old trucks to find out what he had. Soon there was a '48 Chevy pickup sitting in her garage that was good from afar, but afar from good.

Jeff and Fred promptly got to work, and Brenda wanted in, too, so she started dismantling whatever she could manage along with the nest of mice under the seat. Once the truck was scattered all over the garage, Jeff found himself pretty busy for the next eight years as he wrestled with the '48. First, using the stock 'rails, which he boxed, he built a chassis consisting of a Heidt's Mustang II IFS with 2-inch dropped spindles, a Flaming River power rack-and-pinion, Air Ride Technologies 'bags, and Wilwood's four-piston 11-inch disc brakes at each corner. The Auburn-stuffed '68 Mustang 9-inch rearend is kept under control via Air Ride's parallel four-link and ShockWaves.

Over the years of building the truck, raising their son Johnathan, and day-to-day life, the Kuhns' vision for the '48 changed, which included three color and motor deviations, but in the end, they decided to go with a GM Performance Parts 502/502 big-block crate motor. Jeff has a fastidious attention to detail, so he took the monster motor to Custom Engine in Aurora, Illinois, for some tricks. They performed a small overbore and replaced the stock pistons with some JE slugs, swapped in a Lunati cam and some roller rockers, and changed out the oil pan. The stock GM injection remained on the rat motor, but Street & Performance provided the harness and programming necessary to almost effortlessly ignite the MSD ignition, and soon it roared through a 2 1/2-inch exhaust system that Jeff built using Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers. Street & Performance also takes credit for the serpentine system and all the motor dress-up goodies that look at home in Jeff's stunningly sculpted engine bay.

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Bodywork isn't any sane person's favorite thing to do, but it comes with the territory when you build a truck yourself. Jeff spent many days and cold nights out in the garage with the hammer and dolly beating the Chevy back into shape, as well as refining all the stock tin so Getz Hot Rod Shop in Hampshire, Illinois, could hose it down with copious amounts of '02 Mercedes silver. They finally settled on the smooth yet searing color after serious visions of purple followed by Boyd Yellow, but Boyd won out on the wheels with 17- and 20-inch Magnetos shod in Continental rubber. Advance Plating in Nashville, Tennessee, took care of the dipping chores that had to be on par with the rest of Jeff's work.

Starting with a RodDoors bench seat, Schobers Interior in Yorkville, Illinois, put together a Torch Red leather interior that rivals perfection. The recipe for this masterpiece includes a Hot Rod Hardware dash, Classic Instruments gauges, a Billet Specialties column, a Chicayne wheel, a Kenwood sound system, Vintage Air A/C, and, of course, some highly skilled labor. The exquisite space inside the '48's cab is now more inviting and intriguing than most houses, and is far from its old farm truck roots.

Well, after proclaiming that she didn't want to spend her adulthood at car shows since getting her fill early on in life, Brenda soon found herself in the comfortable shoes of her parents, but now she's the one behind the wheel, and she's proud of it! The Chevy has picked up numerous awards, such as the coveted Boyd Coddington Pro's Pick it received in Indy its first time out since completion. It looks like it's a good thing the Kuhns have a truck, because they'll surely be hauling home plenty more trophies, and if you have any doubts about what can be built in a two-car garage, here you go!

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Facts & Figures
Brenda & Jeff Kuhn
Plainfield, Illinois
1948 Chevy 3100
FRAME stock
REAREND / RATIO '68 Ford 9" / Auburn 3.501
REAR SUSPENSION Air Ride Technologies parallel 4-link
REAR BRAKES 11" Wilwood disc
FRONT SUSPENSION Heidt's Mustang II w/Air Ride
FRONT BRAKES 11" Wilwood disc
STEERING BOX Flaming River rack-and-pinion
FRONT WHEELS Boyd Coddington, 17x7 Magneto
REAR WHEELS Boyd Coddington, 20x8 Magneto
FRONT TIRES Continental, 215/45R17
REAR TIRES Continental, 245/40R20
GAS TANK Rock Valley stainless
ENGINE '03 GM 502/502 big-block
VALVE COVERS Street & Performance
HEADERS Street & Performance
EXHAUST / MUFFLERS custom 2 1/2" by Jeff Kuhn / Flowmaster
STYLE 3100 pickup
MODIFICATIONS frenched headlights, shaved driprails
FENDERS stock steel
HOOD stock
GRILLE stock
BODY / PAINTWORK BY Jeff Kuhn / Getz Hot Rod Shop
PAINT TYPE / COLOR Spies Hecker / '02 Mercedes silver
HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS Hagen / Billet Specialties
BUMPERS stock chrome
GAUGES Classic Instruments
DASH Hot Rod Hardware
STEERING WHEEL Billet Specialties Chicayne
STEERING COLUMN Billet Specialties
SEAT RodDoors bench
CONSOLE custom by Schobers Interior
UPHOLSTERY BY Schobers Interior
MATERIAL / COLOR leather / Torch Red
CARPET red wool


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