TRAIL’S END

Four Wheeler - - Contents - BY JERED KORFHAGE [email protected] PHO­TOS: JEFF JOHN­STON

->“IT WASN’T RE­ALLY A TRUCK. I PUT IT TO­GETHER WITH A CAB FROM ONE RIG, FRAME PARTS FROM TWO OTH­ERS, DOORS FROM AN­OTHER, AND SO ON.”

Dou­glas Lee is al­ways glad to tell the story of his ’57 Chevy pickup, but just make sure you have some time to spare—there is far more to this red truck than meets the eye. As he hints at when de­scrib­ing its ori­gins: “It wasn’t re­ally a truck. I put it to­gether with a cab from one rig, frame parts from two oth­ers, doors from an­other, and so on.” Back in the Fe­bru­ary 1995 is­sue, we sat down to hear the de­tails.

The In­dus­trial Arts in­struc­tor from Mi­ami, Ok­la­homa, had the tech­ni­cal train­ing to build the truck of his dreams, and the “hands-on” phi­los­o­phy to do it all him­self. Dou­glas started with a pair of vin­tage frames from 1977—one from a Blazer and an­other from a Chevy pickup. The front end of the Blazer frame was stitched to the tail end of the pickup frame to make a lad­der with a wheel­base match­ing that of a tra­di­tional ’57 Chevy truck. The stock pickup springs were bolted back in place in the rear, but the front leaf springs were short­ened be­fore they were fit back be­neath the truck. Both the Chevy 12-bolt rearend and the Dana 44 front axle were geared to 3.73:1, and a sin­gle Mon­roe Gas-matic shock was bolted at each cor­ner. Noth­ing too fancy sus­pen­sion-wise. Rear drums and front discs were car­ried over from their re­spec­tive axles, and the Blazer’s hon­ored NP205 was re­tained right be­hind the stock four-speed tranny. Ra­di­al­belted LT235/16 all-sea­son tires han­dled re­la­tions with the pave­ment and were mounted to 15x8-inch cast-alu­minum wheels from a ’91 Chevy pickup.

Power for the clas­sic truck came from a 454ci V-8 do­nated by a ’74 Chevy. Dou­glas bored the cylin­ders 0.030 over to a fi­nal dis­place­ment of 468 cu­bic inches be­fore he be­gan build­ing the re­main­der of the en­gine. Per­for­mance up­grades in­cluded TRW forged 9.5:1 pis­tons, a hy­draulic Com­pe­ti­tion Cam, a Pete Jack­son gear drive, Crane 1.7:1 rocker arms, and Chevy oval-port heads fit­ted with a Man­ley 2.19-inch in­take and 1.88-inch ex­haust valves. Air comes in through the Hol­ley Strip Dom­i­na­tor in­take man­i­fold and is mixed with gas in the Hol­ley 750-cfm car­bu­re­tor. Us­ing 308-al­loy stain­less steel, Dou­glas fab­ri­cated his own ex­haust, bring­ing the out­put of his pow­er­plant to 470 hp at 5,200 rpm and 450 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. Ad­mir­ing the en­gine bay, it was ev­i­dent that cus­tom work went be­neath the hood. Dou­glas loved comb­ing the air­craft wreck­ing yard to find ex­otic me­tals for his fabri­ca­tions, which in­cluded the wheel­well tubs and tilt hood brack­ets.

Dou­glas’ at­ten­tion to de­tail shined through in the body­work of the truck. He be­gan with a ’57 pickup Cus­tom Cab and added sui­cide doors. Other hinge-re­lated work went into the sin­gle-piece com­bi­na­tion of the hood and front fend­ers, where Dou­glas built his own hy­draulic for­ward-tilt unit. The bed houses an­other hy­draulic lift, which not only draws at­ten­tion at truck shows but gains him ac­cess to the stock Blazer fuel tank and its filler stashed be­neath the bed. Dou­glas crafted a cus­tom stain­less steel tube grille, fash­ioned a rear bumper that is 12 inches shorter than the orig­i­nal, fab­ri­cated his own alu­minum run­ning boards, and painted the truck a vi­brant Car­rera Red. The front bumper re­mained stock, which can­not be said about the in­te­rior.

The al­ter­nat­ing red and white vinyl in the seats and other pan­els may not be how the truck came from the fac­tory, but the col­ors com­ple­ment the bril­liant red in­te­rior paint. Dou­glas added wooden ac­cents in the steer­ing wheel, shift knobs, and even a wooden Chevy Bow Tie around the Sanyo stereo unit in the dash.

Dou­glas built his truck with the mind­set that a 4x4 doesn’t need enor­mous tires or a mile­high lift to make an im­pres­sion. His en­gine up­grades and cus­tom body­work cer­tainly didn’t go to waste—dou­glas re­fused the trailer and drove his truck to lo­cal recre­ation ar­eas and 4x4 shows where he and every­one else could en­joy his cre­ation.

Tell us about your rig! Per­haps it isn’t lifted (yet), but it still gets you there and back, and the job done in be­tween. Shiny or not, email the de­tails to edi­[email protected] and make sure to send a high-res photo!

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