I was hesitant at first to take on a second vehicle, but the group I brought out with me to Nova Scotia are over the top builders and it raised the bar on the challenge, so I agreed. I looked at what this customer had and basically he had all the pieces to the puzzle. The project was a 1955 panel truck and this customer wanted to make it into a pick up truck and put it on top a SSR chassis. I thought that was cool. I thought, wow, we could go with new, modern build and old school with new modern technology. Without even thinking about it twice, and we were only there for 10 days, I told the guys we were going to step it up and do a second build. None of the guys even hesitated about jumping on board, especially Ian Roussel. He was excited about it because this was more his dream project.
As we got into it, we found out we had to widen the body to fit over the chassis. We also had to build the full structure of the floor and we had to make hundreds of modifications to make everything work. With a short deadline, we had to simplify the project. By simplifying the project, we welded fenders on, welded the hood, grill, bumper all in one piece and made a tilt front end for it. I had to widen the front end 2 1/2 inches on each side just for clearance, for turning radius and tire fit and to make everything look proportionate. That was a big obstacle. I left the headlights in the original position. I took the fenders and widened them 2 1/2 inches, did a pie cut along the fenders, pushed it all together and didn’t have to do too much more except fab together a couple pieces above the headlight and then filled in the 2 1/2 inch gap on the fenders.
We had to borrow doors from another project while we were up there to get us ahead of the game. We took out an extra five inches off the roof. The customer had already started this and the cab was too long. I took two tailgates and used one as the front of the bed and one as the tailgate. We took a clam hatch window from a 1955 Suburban and actually utilized that so the window would pop open.
From that point, while were there, we got into a real rough primer, so we had the customer ship it out here to my shop in Huntington Beach. We received the truck Oct. 8. We really had the odds against us. We reached out to some of my folks at Wyotech and some of the team flew out from Texas and Phoenix to help finish it up so we could get it done before SEMA. With everybody helping out and working around the clock, we were able to get it to SEMA 2012 in the Wyotech booth. Every turn of the wrench, every pull of the trigger, every stroke of the sand block, everybody’s help into finishing this project, all the way to the interior guys being called in the last minute, and with pieces and parts going back and forth between the customer in Canada, we made the impossible possible and with quality.
So, we actually unveiled two vehicles at SEMA. The customer had not told his wife about this project and he brought her to SEMA. We unveiled the vehicle in the Wyotech booth with his wife there and just seeing the look on her face made everything worth it.
I don’t like to push projects to the very end and skip steps over the quality, but I know we all walked away from this project knowing everything we did was on or above our standards and the truck was absolute beautiful. We had Tuff Skin step up and spray in the bed liner about midnight, and they were able to turn that around in about four hours, which was a huge help, so thanks to Tuff Skin. 3M provided us with all our sand paper, fillers, seam sealers, panel bond, compounds, tape, paper, etc. We could not have done this without them. Two 3M reps even showed up and helped us buff the vehicle. Jack with Manson Radiator made us a one-off radiator.
Thanks to everybody that helped. I think a lot of people were surprised we made it. We had a lot of people with sleepless nights helping out. At the end of the day, we showed up with a great project and a lot of memories. It was a big learning curve for the guys from Wyotech seeing something go from almost next to impossible to being completed. These are challenges that I live for, surrounding myself with guys that are better than me, bettering myself at what I do, and learning from other people. Time will always be against you, but keep it positive. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.