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After Nearly 60 Years, This Man’s Dream Came True

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 9/20/2017 Hot Rod Network Staff
1948-chevrolet-3100-pickup-three-quarter.jpg After Nearly 60 Years, This Man’s Dream Came True

To watch an ordinary Advance Design pickup undergo transformation to a full-blown custom was a potent motivator to would-be restylists. Ron Beard—then but a schoolboy at the time—can testify. Unlike the countless other readers, Ron actually pursued the education he gleaned month-by-month in those little pages. He's built some incredible machines over the decades, some quite complex in fact. But a few years ago, he decided to honor the one that started it all. He decided to make his own dream truck come true.

Research

The project began with a cab used by a metal-stripping company as a car show display. But rather than sourcing a thick, heavy, '50s frame that needed boxing and at the very least an IFS clip or crossmember, Ron picked one up that already had that. He found an '80s S-10 frame.

Doing anything in the likeness of the "Dream Truck" requires channeling, or modifying, the floor so the body sits lower. He went 3 inches, enough so the body just covers the frame completely without the running boards in place.

But channeling a cab or body with separate fenders isn't like channeling a later one. The point of channeling an early model is not just to lower the truck more; it's to change its proportions by lowering the cab relative to the fenders. To do that, Ron raised the fenders the amount by which he channeled the cab.

That of course required that he section the hood by the amount that the body came down. The grille lost one bar on its trip down and Ron opened the front wheel openings 2 inches. He also grafted '55 Chevy headlight doors to the fenders.

1948 Chevy Ron Beard-001.jpg© Hot Rod Network Staff 1948 Chevy Ron Beard-001.jpg

Ron mounted the bed so its fenders matched the front fenders' location. Then he shortened the bed 3 inches. The AD pickup's 116-inch wheelbase is shorter than the S-10's and trimming the bed only made the disparity greater. But GM designed the S-10 chassis in two pieces that slip together so one frame design can accommodate a range of wheelbases. The wheelbase is open to alteration by simply grinding the welds holding the halves together, trimming the rear half of the framerails, and sliding them back into the front half. Ron shortened his chassis to 112 inches, approximately 4 inches shorter than stock.

Then Ron molded the bed rails, made a rolled rear pan with a 1948 Chevy license plate frame, and frenched 1947 Chevy taillights on either side of it. He also made an aluminum tonneau cover.

Meanwhile, Ron had Ron Heyerly in Eugene, Oregon, rebuild a 327 Chevrolet. It mates to a 700-R4, which spins a 3.50:1 gear on a limited-slip carrier in a 9-inch axle built by Currie Enterprises. That mounts to the chassis with a Classic Performance Products triangulated four-link. Ron modified the front suspension with Fatman control arms and Classic Performance Products dropped spindles. Both ends ride on Firestone air springs: 6-inch convolutes up front and sleeves out back.

Ron replaced the rather utilitarian dash with one from a 1955 Chevy passenger car. It mounts a set of Classic Instruments Bel Era gauges. A tilt-wheel column from Classic Performance Products mounts a reproduction 1956 Chevy passenger-car steering wheel. A modified 1966 Chevelle seat frame makes the most room within the smaller cab.

The body and chassis sorted, Ron tended to the finish. He straightened the body and shot it with TCP Global Hot Rod Flatz Steel Blue single-stage urethane. He then turned it over to Andy Smith at Larry's Upholstery in Albany, Oregon, for a combination of maroon and cream leather. Smith also covered the aluminum tonneau in white topping to make it appear as if it were just a vinyl cover.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. But when done right, something inspired is kind of magical, especially when it's done almost entirely by its owner. When Spence and the crew embarked upon their project nearly 65 years ago, they never expected anyone to copy their expression point-by-point. Hell, they probably wouldn't have wanted it that way. Because if nothing else, the "Dream Truck" was all about teaching people how to make a dream come true. And for a dream to really matter, it's best if it's yours. This one just happens to be Ron's.

CHASSIS

Frame / Manufacturer: Chevrolet S-10 pickup with custom center crossmember

Wheelbase: 112

Rearend / Ratio: Currie Enterprises Ford 9-inch / 3.5:1 with limited-slip carrier

Rear Suspension: Classic Performance Products triangulated four-link

Rear Brakes: 10-inch Ford drums

Front Suspension: Chevrolet S-10 with Fatman Fabrication control arms and Classic Performance Products dropped spindles

Master Cylinder: Classic Performance Products master, booster, and pedal assembly

Wheel make, size: Wheel Vintiques Gennie 15x5 with 3.25-inch backspace and 15x7 with 4-inch backspace

Tire make, size: Diamond Back Classics, 195/65R15 and 215/70R15

Gas tank: Tanks Inc steel 14-gallon

Drivetrain

Make and size: Chevrolet 327

Assembly: Ron Heyerly, Eugene, OR

Camshaft: 325/327 Chevrolet copy

Valve Covers: Corvette seven-fin cast-aluminum

Induction: FiTech throttle-body injection on Corvette cast-iron manifold

Ignition: Mallory Unilite

Headers: Corvette ram's horn

Exhaust / Mufflers: 2 1/4-inch pipes with Smithy's glasspacked mufflers

Transmission: 700-R4 by Craig Noel, Sun Automotive, Eugene, OR

BODY

Body mods: Chopped 5 inches, channeled 3 inches, cowl and hood sectioned 3 inches, bed shortened 3 inches, rear roll pan, custom front pan with a filled 1947 Ford bumper

Body/Paint: Ron Beard

Paint type / Color: TCP Global Hot Rod Flatz single-stage urethane / Satin Steel Blue

Headlights / Taillights: 1955 Chevrolet / 1947 Chevrolet

Outside Mirror: Hagan Street Rod Necessities Fatties head on swan-neck arm

Other body items: Glass by I-5 Glass in Eugene; plating by Ogden Chrome in Ogden, UT

INTERIOR

Dashboard: 1955 Chevrolet passenger car

Gauges: Classic Instruments Bel Era

Air Conditioning: Vintage Air Gen II climate-control unit

Wiring: Ron Francis Wire Works

Steering Wheel: Reproduction 15-inch 1956 Bel Air

Steering Column: Classic Performance Products

Seats: 1966 Chevelle

Upholsterer: Andy Smith, Larry's Auto Upholstery, Albany, OR

Material / Color: Leather / Maroon and cream

Carpet: Red nylon loop-pile carpet

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