54 Chevy Truck – 9 Years in the Making

1954 Chevy Pickup -Chopped and Dropped

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Author and Photographer: Mike Harrington

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. A truck is a truck, right? It’s meant for only one thing, to be beat to death on the local farm or sentenced to a life of hard labor. If only the designers of the ’54 Chevrolet truck could see how this one fared the test of time. They just might pass a peach pit. There’s a nifty little story attached to this former hay hauler and it all began south of the border and we’re not referring to the Mason Dixon line.

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Decades ago Mateo San Martin, living in Mexico, pieced this truck together one part at a time. Almost like that Johnny Cash song and just like the hot rodders here in the USA – a scrounged part here and there over a span of time had the truck all back and working again. Only this truck wasn’t built for any aesthetic reasons, it was built to handle life’s daily chores and experience more hard labor. But things don’t always work out the way they were intended… sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. In this story definitely for the good.

A few decades later the truck ended up in the USA and was now in the possession of his grandson George San Martin. There were no dreams of turning it into a stocker farm truck when George was around. Hells Bells, not even close! Chopped, dropped, shaved and customized. That’s all George could envision. He was still too young to drive it, but why let a technicality like that stop you?

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The way he tells us this story, he’s had the truck for going on nine years now. Nine years of planning, nine years of collecting and saving parts. Nine years is enough time for ideas to revolve, evolve and dissolve in the minds eye. Obviously when he was still a kid the customizing work was pretty stagnate. Even in high school, the custom Chevy truck was still in the construction stages, but not many high school kids these days drive a ’54 Chevy truck do they?

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Once High School was over and George settled into his career, the money situation made it easier to pursue the ideas floating in his mind. George’s father and grandfather helped in the rebuild process of the 236 Chevy inline six. In his own words, the head has been “milled to the max” with forged rods, stock crank, .60 over pistons and an Offy dual pot intake. Forget the Hydra-Matic transmission, a ’67 Muncie four speed is more fun to drive, and that inline six, when properly rapped, will send the decibels out the tailpipes and modern car alarms will be howling like banshees for an entire city block.

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Of course it takes an entire crew of friends when it comes to customizing any vehicle. Jim Savage, Steven Aviles, Gabriel Aviles, Sergio Nevarez, Ernie Valle and countless other helped to drop, chop, shave, weld, paint and suicide the truck.  While George claims that the vehicle still is not entirely finished, he says its pretty close and will soon be done. Our question is: Are they really ever finished?

Before this story comes to an end, one thing we wanted to point out is the unique interior of the truck. The dash and instruments, with a mix of Stewart Warner gauges for good measure, come from a 59 Chevy Impala, the steering wheel is a cut down ’60 Chrysler wheel, the bucket seats are from a ’65 Chevy Impala, and of course, the tall shifter is hand made. We can’t wait to see what it will look like when George declares it “finished”.

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Here are the rest of Michael’s great photos including more of this lovely lady. Who is she?

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