BARN­YARD HERO

The Great­est Thing to Come out of Iowa Since Sliced Bread

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT AND PHOTOS BY KEVIN AGUILAR

THOUGH MOST MAY THINK THAT IOWA IS A BOR­ING FLY-OVER STATE IN THE MID­WEST FILLED WITH NOTH­ING BUT ROLLING PLAINS AND CORNFIELDS, THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT WE BET YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT IT. One of the weird facts we dis­cov­ered is that there are more hogs there than peo­ple. Ever heard the say­ing, it’s the great­est thing since sliced bread? Well, in 1912, Otto Fredrick Ro­hwed­der cre­ated sliced bread in the Hawk­eye State. Un­til re­cently, there was one thing that Iowa was cer­tainly not known for, though: cus­tom trucks.

That’s all about to change, though, be­cause Stoner’s Speed Shop has been putting Iowa on the map of late. Owner Blake Stoner will attest that even though he spe­cial­izes in mak­ing wicked­low trucks, there are very few of them in the sur­round­ing area. So how did this all hap­pen? Like most of us, Blake de­vel­oped his pas­sion for trucks by help­ing in the fam­ily garage. He wound up mak­ing a liv­ing do­ing oil pipe­line work, but ul­ti­mately de­cided he wanted to pur­sue his dream of build­ing cus­tom ve­hi­cles for a liv­ing.

Though he was orig­i­nally into rat rods, he caught the truck bug through In­sta­gram. Blake hit the ground run­ning, build­ing three trucks in three months. Turn­ing and burn­ing them would best de­scribe his ini­tial ven­ture into the truck realm. Stoner’s got some ma­jor recog­ni­tion be­cause of his ef­forts, which lead to big­ger projects. One of these big breaks came in the form of a ’49 GMC that Sam Cas­tronova com­mis­sioned Blake to build for the 2015 SEMA Show. It was a patina truck build dubbed the OGMC and it even shared a spot on our Au­gust 2016 cover with

THE OGMC WAS AN AB­SO­LUTE HIT, AND BLAKE’S REP­U­TA­TION PRE­CEDED HIM FROM THERE ON OUT. THAT’S WHEN HE GOT TO THINK­ING, WHAT NEXT?”

Jeremy Rice’s ’49 Chevy.

The OGMC was an ab­so­lute hit, and Blake’s rep­u­ta­tion pre­ceded him from there on out. That’s when he got to think­ing, what next? Blake needed a good fol­lowup project to re­ally so­lid­ify his rep­u­ta­tion as a pro­fes­sional builder. Through a friend, he dis­cov­ered a per­fect barn­yard find. It was a ’49 Chevro­let Ad­vance De­sign pickup that had an older red paint job. The truck was in great shape for its age, but the owner was ask­ing way too much. Af­ter some ne­go­ti­a­tions, Blake was able to call the truck his own.

This was early sum­mer 2016, and Blake put off working on the new truck be­cause the in­side was loaded with mounds of rat crap, and the foul smell was enough to make any­one nearby ill. By the time

mid­sum­mer rolled around, Blake was get­ting pushed to build the ’49 for the up­com­ing SEMA Show. With a few big names back­ing him and an in­door spot in the Pre­ci­sion Re­place­ment Parts booth locked down, the race to the show was on.

Once the truck was torn down, Blake mocked up the sus­pen­sion to lay the truck out over a set of one-off 22x9-inch Detroit Steel Wheels with Di­a­mond­back Clas­sics tires. The front was mod­ern­ized with a Mus­tang II sus­pen­sion from Street Rod En­gi­neer­ing and a Ride­tech 4-link was uti­lized for the rear. Once set up, it was pow­der­coated brown to fin­ish the airbagged chas­sis. Though the foun­da­tion of this truck was given a show-fin­ish, the ex­te­rior re­mains the way it was when Blake first gazed upon it. The folks from Pre­ci­sion did make a trip to Stoner’s and even in­stalled new glass and all new seals.

From the get go, Blake wanted a setup that looked old school un­der the hood but with enough power to spin the rear tires. To do it, he pulled a 6.0L LS with 4L60E from a 2003 Sil­ver­ado. The trans­mis­sion was re­built and the en­gine was dressed with an All Amer­i­can Bil­let ac­ces­sory drive kit and Inglese stacked EFI sys­tem. Trans­fer­ring ro­ta­tional force is a 9-inch rearend from Schwartz Per­for­mance with Ea­ton True­trac lim­it­ed­slip dif­fer­en­tial.

AF­TER A MAD RUSH TO COM­PLETE THE TRUCK, BLAKE HAULED IT TO VE­GAS FOR THE BIG SHOW. IT CAP­TURED THE EYES OF MANY ON­LOOK­ERS AND DID ITS JOB TO AT­TRACT CUS­TOMERS TO THE PRE­CI­SION BOOTH.”

Since the in­te­rior was gut­ted due to the rat in­fes­ta­tion, a com­plete overhaul was needed. Start­ing with the dash, it was cleaned up and fit­ted with an Air­lift 3H air ride con­troller and Dakota Dig­i­tal HDX gauges. Then, Boss Cus­tom In­te­rior stepped in to cre­ate some seat cush­ions from scratch and up­hol­stered it and the rest of the in­te­rior in brown vinyl.

The floor was cov­ered in loop brown car­pet, and a few bil­let parts from Lokar Per­for­mance Prod­ucts added some shine.

Af­ter a mad rush to com­plete the truck, Blake hauled it to Ve­gas for the big show. It cap­tured the eyes of many on­look­ers and did its job to at­tract cus­tomers to the Pre­ci­sion booth. Though the best part about the whole or­deal was that the truck gar­nered some ma­jor at­ten­tion, it be­came an even big­ger deal when it was awarded a cov­eted De­sign Award di­rectly from Chevro­let. There are only a hand­ful of these given out at SEMA, and Blake Stoner walked away with one this past Novem­ber.

So what does one do af­ter ac­com­plish­ing such a feat? En­joy the fruits of their la­bor of course. Blake is the type of guy who is in it for the love of trucks, and he’s not afraid to put his truck to the test. In fact, be­fore our pho­to­shoot, Blake de­cided to blow smoke by do­ing some mean donuts. He was fully pre­pared to run this truck into the ground, and it even caught fire for a mo­ment. As ev­ery­one present yelled at Blake to shut off the truck, he con­tin­ued to floor it. Once he came to a stop, Blake eased on over to open the hood and in­spect the fire. It was quickly ex­tin­guished, and he showed no signs of con­cern. Luck­ily, we were able to nail down the shoot to show the truck in all of its glory.

Blake may have started from hum­ble begin­nings in a sleepy Mid­west area, but he has surely built a name for him­self. He even has plans for his next big project. If it’s any­thing like this truck, be pre­pared to wipe the drool from your chin.

THIS SAL­VAGED 6.0L LS EN­GINE WAS GIVEN AN OLD-SCHOOL LOOK WITH A STACKED EFI UNIT FROM INGLESE.

YES, THOSE ARE 22-INCH ONE-OFF DETROIT STEEL WHEELS STUFFED UN­DER THIS ’49 CHEVY.

ABOVE LEFT. THE TRUCK CAUGHT FIRE FOR A MO­MENT WHEN BLAKE DID A FEW DONUTS, BUT H E (AND IT) LIVED TO TELL TO THE TALE.

ABOVE RIGHT. BLAKE STONER STOOD WITH HIS FA­THER (RIGHT) AND BOB FULLER (FAR LEFT) AS THE CHEVRO­LET PEO­PLE’S CHOICE DE­SIGN AWARD WAS PRE­SENTED.

THE IRONY OF BLAKE’S TRUCK IS THAT IT LOOKS LIKE A BEATER ON THE OUTSIDE, BUT IT’S COM­PLETELY FIN­ISHED ON THE IN­SIDE.

BOSS CUS­TOM IN­TE­RIOR DRESSED THE SEAT WITH CUS­TOM-MADE CUSH­IONS AND BROWN VINYL UP­HOL­STERY.

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