Street Trucks

Pearly Gates

The Ramirez Family Rolling Memorial

- WORDS BY JOHN MATA JR.

The Ramirez Family Rolling Memorial

LOSING A GRANDFATHE­R CAN BE ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS TO HAPPEN IN A YOUNG BOY’S LIFE. While nothing can ever take the place of a lost loved one, caring for their prized possession­s and recalling long-lasting positive memories can help ease the pain with familiarit­y and comfort. The special physical items left behind can live another lifetime.

We all have keepsakes that once belonged to someone we deeply cared for, and it’s interestin­g to think about what each particular object says about that person. Some of them are completely random trinkets that carry no real personal connection to who our loved one was, while others are more directly connected to their interests and personalit­ies—this is the good stuff that never gets misplaced or forgotten about.

It’s safe to say that all of us here (readers included) are truck people for the most part—or, at the very least, a few car folks who can appreciate a cool pickup. Brandon Ramirez of Mesa, Arizona, might classify himself as someplace in between. The sweet ’48 Chevy seen here is his, but it wouldn’t be completely accurate to say that this make/model has always been his dream vehicle. The truck once belonged to his grandfathe­r. In fact, his gramps bought the truck brand new back in ’48 and remained the truck’s only owner until he passed away when Brandon was only 10 years old.

The truck wasn’t willed or “assigned” to be passed on to a specific family member. At the time of his passing, Brandon’s grandfathe­r had already sidelined the truck for a while due to a carburetor issue. In total, the old Chevy was left out in the elements

for a solid 20 years before Brandon finally did something to save it from a fateful trip to the junkyard. The idea to get his grandpa’s truck back on the road was always somewhere in his mind. It was just a matter of getting some momentum behind an initial push to move in the right direction.

While Brandon did his best at first to get his grandpa’s truck the much-needed attention it deserved, the shop he entrusted to handle the job let it sit around three years without making much progress. Some days were more frustratin­g than others, but in the end, Brandon had to make the decision to find yet another shop that could actually devise a realistic plan of action and execute in timelier fashion.

Lucky for Brandon, he didn’t have to look too far away from home to find the help he needed to get his grandfathe­r’s truck back on track. After an initial once-over, Jeremy Rice of Tre 5 Customs out of Peoria, Arizona, saw instantly there was still much to get done to deliver on the goals that Brandon had set for the project. With so much to do, Jeremy thought it best to start from the bottom. To give the truck a more solid, updated foundation to build on, the truck’s entire existing chassis was scrapped for a Revo frame from Roadster Shop. While the new frame is flawlessly designed as-is, it did have to be customized to fit the ’48’s factory-equipped long bed. Roadster Shop incorporat­es airbags and Ridetech shocks into its Revo chassis setup, which is a big selling point, and Jeremy added an Accuair CVT tank as well as an e-level air management system for optimum user friendline­ss.

There was never a thought about attempting to save the factory engine since Brandon wanted to complement the newfangled suspension system with big power under the hood. Jeremy suggested a Chevrolet Performanc­e LS3 crate engine, which was quickly agreed upon given its dependabil­ity, overall straightfo­rward installati­on and impressive performanc­e potential. Of course, the guys had already planned on throwing on some go-fast accessorie­s to make the most of the 430 hp they had right out of the box. For starters, a Borla 8-stack induction setup, custom 3-inch exhaust tubing and cerakoted headers from Ultimate Headers were teamed up to give the engine better breathabil­ity. From there, the guys continued to accessoriz­e the engine to get it looking and performing its absolute best.

Having a running engine back in the truck was a big deal to Brandon, since that’s what kept the truck out of service for almost

three decades. But the process of sculpting a unique exterior for his grandfathe­r’s Chevy was also high on his wish list. One particular modificati­on Brandon was sure stress was the inclusion of an operationa­l bed floor, which Jeremy was all too happy to oblige. The entire floor lifts up on demand, which not only adds a bit of flair to the game, but also makes for an easy-to-reach access panel for quick suspension maintenanc­e.

The tricked out floor is practical, while still being impressive, but they were looking to push the boundaries on the truck with something on the wild/subtle side—a modificati­on that might go over a lot of heads of those who aren’t well versed as to what exactly they’re looking at. All the glass pieces have been flush fit, which can sometimes appear to be a somewhat simplified process, but don’t get it wrong—an extreme amount of skilled labor goes into executing it just right. The team at Tre 5 took what would normally be factory replacemen­t glass and built new sheetmetal around the glass to achieve the highly desired modern look. The windshield has been treated, as well as the quarter and back window for a uniform appearance. Take a good look; the extra time and work invested in the process does make a huge difference in the Chevy’s overall aesthetic.

Of course, there are plenty of other items on this truck’s exterior highlight reel that shouldn’t go unmentione­d. The shortened and tucked factory front bumper, frenched United Pacific LED headlights, too-many-toname shaved pieces and custom-built running boards are just a few notable modificati­ons, but the rearend is really a shining star. The modified Mar-k tailgate has been paired with a one-off roll pan that rolls all the way under the bed for heavy-duty structural support. Frank Rechlin of ikandy Paintworks was then recruited to massage the metal surfaces to prep for paint—a special pearl white that solidifies the ’48’s ultrasanit­ary appearance.

Inside the cab, things were kept just as clean.

The beat-up factory bench seat was completely rebuilt by Empire Custom Upholstery and then wrapped in supple skins from Hydes Leather. Custom door and kick panels were made by Elevated Design and given the same treatment for an ultra plush and elegant appearance. To give the interior a hearty helping of modern amenities, a Restomod A/C system was installed (since it does get mighty steamy in Arizona), and classy-faced Dakota Digital VHX instrument­ation that combines both timeless style with today’s functional­ity. Believe it or not, the truck also boasts a rather impressive audio system—brandon figured the truck had already come too far not to squeeze in every single bell and whistle possible.

Obviously, the truck has come a long way since its humble days spent uncovered in a family member’s backyard, but Brandon was determined to have it built to honor his grandfathe­r. As if the unveiling of the finished product wasn’t exciting enough to look forward to, Brandon and the rest of his family were able to make the trip to Vegas and see the truck completed for the first time in person at SEMA

’19. Brandon took a minute to sit down and grab the steering wheel only to think back to the last time he had been inside the truck back when he was 10 years old. Heirlooms such as this one are hard to come by, and it will certainly remain in the Ramirez family until it’s passed down to another blessed caretaker who will no doubt treasure it as much as those who have owned it before.

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 ?? PHOTOS BY BRIAN GOUDE ??
PHOTOS BY BRIAN GOUDE
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 ??  ?? THE ORIGINAL FACTORY BENCH
SEAT WAS IN HORRIBLE CONDITION UNTIL EMPIRE CUSTOM UPHOLSTERY COMPLETELY REBUILT AND RESTYLED IT.
MARCH 2021
THE ORIGINAL FACTORY BENCH SEAT WAS IN HORRIBLE CONDITION UNTIL EMPIRE CUSTOM UPHOLSTERY COMPLETELY REBUILT AND RESTYLED IT. MARCH 2021
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 ??  ?? A FLIP OF A SWITCH REVEALS THE POWDERCOAT­ED REVO CHASSIS FROM ROADSTER SHOP.
A FLIP OF A SWITCH REVEALS THE POWDERCOAT­ED REVO CHASSIS FROM ROADSTER SHOP.
 ??  ?? BED FLOOR: MAR-K’S BED FLOOR KIT WAS USED TO FINISH OFF THE ALREADY TRICKED OUT OPERATIONA­L BED.
BED FLOOR: MAR-K’S BED FLOOR KIT WAS USED TO FINISH OFF THE ALREADY TRICKED OUT OPERATIONA­L BED.
 ??  ??
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 ??  ?? THE CHEVROLET PERFORMANC­E LS3 HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY SOUPED-UP AND DRESSED TO THE 9’S.
THE CHEVROLET PERFORMANC­E LS3 HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY SOUPED-UP AND DRESSED TO THE 9’S.
 ??  ??
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