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1955 Chevy Truck

4/13/2020
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The elegant lines of the '55 second-series truck are a surprisingly good match to a brutal hot rod rake.

I don’t know where to begin. This little grey truck was on our cover almost a year ago. I’ve started to write this feature dozens of times since then, but I never get very far. You see, this truck was built by my dad, the guy who taught me pretty much everything I know about cars. He also taught me how to do a job right and to take pride in my work. So any article honoring his work had better be good. It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m going to make an attempt because this story deserves to be told.

There's a lot going on in this picture. The tailgate chains and stock taillights say "truck," but the giant Hoosier meats and traction bars say "hot rod."

Pat McCollough grew up in the days when muscle cars roamed the earth. In college, he had a hot ’68 GTO with a 455 swap, rock crusher, and a jacked up stance. I grew up hearing stories about drag racing and other shenanigans with this car and they planted the seed that made me fall in love with fast old cars. More cool cars followed after the GTO, but when I came along priorities shifted to the more practical requirements of raising a family. Though he had sacrificed his hot rods, there were still cars around and work to be done.

The GTO. There are lots of pretty great stories about this car, and they made quite an impression on me when I was a kid.

As I grew up, my dad was a patient teacher and always willing to show me what he was doing and let me help. When I was sick and home from school, he would come home with car magazines for me to read. When we pulled up to the traffic light next to a car with a lumpy idle, he would explain why it sounded like that. All the while we would scheme about the cars that we would build together someday. He was there to help me fix up my first car. When I was in college, he worked late into the night for almost two years to help me restore a rusty old C10 truck.

Finally, after more than two decades of building cars for everyone but himself, it was time. Always a fan of the ’55-’57 Chevy trucks, a search began. After looking at a few duds, a clean ’55 pickup was located in Texas. It was a painted, finished, running truck that many would have been content to leave alone. But he had a vision for a low, mean creation with some of that 60’s street racer vibe from his youth.

There's a ton of work in that front bumper to make it fit like that.

When the body was blasted, some rust was still creeping through in the usual places. Doors were skinned and fenders replaced before the fun could start. The firewall was smoothed, the dash filled, and all the emblems shaved. This truck is full of sneaky details that you don’t notice until they’re pointed out. The “Chevrolet” script in the tailgate is actually the center of a ’63 230” six-cylinder valve cover. The front bumper is a stock unit that’s been flipped upside down and tucked in against the fenders. The rear bumper is also upside down and narrowed.

Visible in this shot is the valve cover script grafted into the tailgate and the upside down and narrowed rear bumper.

Everything but the paint and upholstery was done in an attached two-car garage. Bondo dust was tracked in the house (to the chagrin of my ever-patient mom). There were late nights, long weekends, and early mornings. After a few years of this, the truck started to take shape. Throughout the project, there had been an ongoing family argument over what color it should be. Finally, after seeing an HHR at the gas station, I suggested the subtle hue called Techno Grey. It looks at home on the 50’s sheetmetal, but the subtle pearl pops in a way that a more vintage hue would not.

The '63 Bel-Air steering wheel is a surprisingly good fit in the truck's interior.

On the inside, bucket seats from a junkyard Eagle Talon were reworked and covered in grey vinyl by Jorgensen Upholstery in Norfolk, Nebraska. A B&M shifter was selected to give orders to the built 700R4 and is bolted to a custom mount. A Classic Instruments cluster hangs out behind the column mounted Sun tach. The steering wheel is from a ’63 Chevy Bel-Air that belonged to my Grandpa (it’s still in the family, just missing a steering wheel now). The carpet was done by Tracy Weaver at the Recovery Room in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.

The clean and simple approach continues on the inside. The late model buckets were shortened and mounted to custom bases.

As the truck came together, it was clear that it was going to look nasty. The giant Hoosier meats tucked into the tubbed bedsides, low nose, and wicked rake combined to make the old truck look like it was ready for a fight. The puny 305 that came with it was definitely not going to back up the attitude, so a GM Performance 383 was ordered up. Topped with an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake and a 770 Street Avenger, it definitely walks the walk. This truck will light the tires up at any speed, just like the GTO that has grown larger than life in our family mythology.

The engine bay is just as clean as the rest. The firewall was smoothed, and the lines for the Vintage Air are routed inside the wheelwell.
If you're after big diameter polished billets, you need to keep looking. The body color rallys with flat "police" caps fit the understated vibe of this truck perfectly.

Since its completion it’s been honored with several car show trophies, but that’s not what it was built for. It was built to drive and enjoy. It’s racked up the miles driving to shows all over the Midwest and never been on a trailer.

I love this shot. This truck looks great driving down the road.

Now that I’m grown and with a family of my own, I understand that some personal dreams get put on hold to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. I also now understand how hard that is. I’m more grateful than ever to my dad for that sacrifice, and I couldn’t be happier that he finally got a turn to build his dream truck.

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