As the old timers used to say,
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
Along with the resurgence of love for vintage teardrop trailers, vintage, full-sized camping trailers, and pimped-out vintage decor, there’s also a significant resurgence of interest in vintage vehicles. Most everyone who owns or will own a vintage camper eventually toys with the idea of pulling it with a similar-year vintage vehicle. But most folks don’t necessarily want to put up with the slow-moving, old-time nature of a vintage vehicle.
In the spirit of preserving one of those beautiful babies a.k.a. the fabulous vintage vehicles of the 40s, 50s, and 60s that look stunning pulling vintage trailers, we set out to acquire ourselves a vintage truck by keeping the baby—the beautiful body that we loved so much. And disposing of the bathwater—the old, under-powered, under-performing engine and chassis of a vintage truck.
The baby in question for us is a 1950 Chevy 3100 pickup truck. I’ve wanted to own one of these all my life. I mean way back, like when I was in a teenager, growing up in the 60s and 70s.
About a year ago, my interest was re-sparked, when I spotted this old beauty in a supermarket parking lot . . .
That natural green hue. Those beautiful curves. It was love at first sight.
Mark took a picture of her, because I uttered the words, “Someday, I want a truck just like this!”
When we talked about the possibility of acquiring a truck like this, we realized we wanted something not only vintage, but practical, too. We wanted it to be powerful enough to pull a large camping trailer, if we wished. And strong and safe enough to use for long-distance driving or short hauls with a heavy payload in the truck bed.
In other words, we knew right away that we wanted a hybrid restoration/rebuild. So when we talked about “someday” making a truck like this a reality, we realized we’d have to wait for when we might also someday live on a big piece of property with a large garage and no HOV-community restrictions. In other words, someday wouldn’t be any day soon.
Then. An opportunity.
Mark knows the owner of an airplane junkyard who said he’d be willing to allow us space on his property to tackle a build project. The fella and his sons were deep into building rat rods–some nasty, some fancy, but mostly big ole rusted-out trucks, chopped up and stripped down, powered by over-the-top engines, just perfect for street racing and fun.
The offer was the answer to our prayers. Mark jumped right on it.
Within a week, we found a 1950 Chevy 3100 on a Texas-centric Craigslist ad. We live in Arizona, but soon found we had to extend our reach if we hoped to find the exact truck we wanted. For $575, we found someone to transport the slightly drive-able, but definitely not road-worthy truck.
After a massive amount of research, Mark found that if we wanted to preserve the vintage body, but beef up the underlying power and handling, then we needed a late 1980’s Chevy S10 chassis to match up with the Chevy 3100. One week later, we scored a 1989 Chevy S10 chassis on Craigslist from a local seller.
So, the body of this vintage Chevy 3100 pickup truck . . .
PLUS the chassis of this [technically an antique, I suppose!] 1989 Chevy S10 pickup truck . . .
EQUALS the TRUCK OF MY DREAMS in the making.
The rest of the build is all magic a la Mr. Google and Mark.
“Mr. Google, let me introduce to you the relentless research skills, metal fabrication expertise, and mechanical prowess of my partner, Mark.” 🙂
Granted, it’s an ambitious project. But Mark is just the guy to tackle it.
About one month into the project and Mark has scored the body, chassis, low-mile engine, and transmission, most of which are originals, except for the transmission, which has been rebuilt. He has cleaned up the old and made much of it look new again, or at least new’ish. And he is finessing the heck out of figuring out how to pull it all together.
I can hardly wait!
Stay tuned for updates!
Happy Restoring, Re-using, and Re-purposing to all you builders and restorers out there!
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Happy trails, y’all!