Project Stepside – The build
2019 is the year: 20 years of Auto Finesse. And by way of celebration, we've built the absolute ultimate when it comes to truck builds. Powered by a supercharged Chevy LS3 engine, with retro-style Holley rocker cover and Edelbrock E-Force Supercharger, our finished beast now pushes out a whopping 500bhp. It wasn't a simple journey, though. Earlier this year, we got our hands on the bare bones of a 1954 Chevy Truck project and sent it straight over to Old Bones Fabrications, in Weyhill, Hampshire, to make our well-thought out vision a reality. With a hopeful finish date of June 22 - the day of the Goodwood Players Classic Show - it was always going to be a big task. It was to go from a bare bones project to a flagship build in just a few months and Old Bones guys jumped on it for us straight away.
The truck was completely stripped down to its chassis in order to get it laying frame. Once stripped down, steel plate material was used to forge kick ups to the rear. The rear chassis rails were then cut and boxed before all being welded into position. A set of custom billet mounting brackets were then employed to the rear light, while new steel plates were welded in where needed. The rear bed has been given a new panel to house the fuel filler (rather than the fuel filler being in the bed floor). The back axle is an 8.5-inch GM 10 bolt with Moser shafts, Richmond gears, RideTech shockwaves, with an Eaton Posi limited-slip differential located through a triangulated 4-link. Situated behind the rear axle is the air tank, along with twin compressors and a c-clip eliminator kit. The split wheels were built in-house using centres from OEM Chevy steels that have been mated to aftermarket split-rim barrels. 17-inch and packing a naughty 11.5j to the back. Custom splash panel that was fabricated and dished, firstly in order to clear the wheels on full lock, and to protect the K&N filter that's mounted within the front wheel well. To the front, there's a Heidts Mustang 2 independent front end with swaged holes for added style. All bracketry and crossmembers have been finish welded and the 65-year old chassis rails massaged and dressed to high quality. Fuel tank was built from scratch and finish welded with a new sender and Aeromotive submersible high pressure pump, which was subsequently leak tested and painted and sealed, while the spark plug shrouds have been wrapped in Titanium for added heat protection.
A completely new floor, along with the bulkhead panels and kick-ups were welded into place, while a new transmission tunnel was forged. Three-piece inner wheel arches were then formed, while the cab's back panel, the doors and the roof have all been insulated. The bodywork was treated to a full acid dip, with ancillary panels all e-coated. Old Bones went over the work with a fine toothcomb, TIG welding any imperfections as they went. The entire cab has been washed down with brake cleaner and baked, finish off with zinc primer and epoxy coating. It was time for some colour. The entire thing was treated to the new custom-pistachio hue. Much time was spent using a colourfast light to pick out any imperfections to ensure a glass-like finish - we are a car cleaning products company, after all. Ancillary panels, inner wheel barrels, doors and wheel centres all received the same green hue. The inner wheel barrels are black and the outer barrels were all polished before being put back together and fitted. To the rear bed are Iroko hardwood slats, which are hinged to a custom-made frame with gas struts in order to raise it at shows (Pie-cut sections at the rear are visible when lifted). The cab features the solid colour as the base with a clear lacquer over the top to stand up to the inevitable regular machine polishing.
When refitting the inner wings, much work was involved to negotiate the mammoth trunking that is the inlet hose to the wheel-well mounted air filter. Not to mention the hours that have gone into routing the wiring, making it all hidden and clean looking but also being accessible where needed. The brake-line plumbing also incorporates a Hurst line lock should the rear tyres need warming up. All joins have also been seam welded for a cleaner finish. Aluminium fuel lines have been employed, as well as some cupro nickel brake lines through a CPP under-floor brake booster to Wilwood front calipers. New components and a Lokar cable kit have been used to rebuild the rear drum brakes. The stainless steel exhaust system was fabbed and tack welded before heading to the polishers. Following polish, it was fully purge-welded and situated around a pair of MagnaFlow silencers. The bespoke interior trim work was completed by Chris at Retro Retrims. The seats were re-foamed and trimmed with a distressed leather and period tweed material combo. The door cards were then trimmed to match, along with the roof lining. The carpets feature a square weave and leather trim so that the carpets can be removed in order to showcase the painted floor pans that offer a finish as shiny as the outside! Interior heat provided by a restored original Chevy heater and an electric cut out has also been incorporated.
Every single bit of this build has been thought and thought through again and nothing has been left untouched. All steering and chassis components have either been painted or powder coated. Even the nuts and bolts were finished at the same level as every other component - no stone was left unturned with this build. Even the finer specific details, such as the Auto Finesse metal badging and logos - it was all custom made by master sign-writer Neil Melliard. It's a sight to behold at shows and we couldn't be prouder to see your vision come to life.
Words & Images:
Auto Finesse Media Team