Roger Barr's 1949 Chevy Pickup
(from Volume 21, Issue 253)

story and photos by Michael B. Kelly


Roger Barr grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the mid-1950’s. Like many young men, he worked part time and weekends to save for a car. His employer had a ‘52 or ‘53 Chevy Pickup that he would let Roger drive when they went up in the Sandia mountains to work on his cabin. That six-banger engine in the truck would make it, but sometimes required it to be driven in first gear for the steep sections. But Roger loved it, and wanted one (albeit with more power). However, when Roger finally did save up enough money, his first car was a 1939 Chevy Business Coupe. His father was an Army Sergeant, who also worked part time for Ace Hardware. One Saturday his father called to ask Roger if he had saved $65 yet, as he was trading a customer a power mower for a ‘39 Chevy Coupe, and Roger could pay the difference and get the car. So even though it wasn’t a Chevy Pickup like he dreamed of, and wasn’t as nice of a car as some of his friends had, Roger did get a car and a learner’s life was good. As often happens, over the years priorities changed, and the Chevy Pickup remained a dream that would have to wait.

Fast forward to 2004, when Roger purchased a 1949 Chevy Pickup. He found it while working in Indiantown, Florida. It had a red “30 to 35 foot” paint job (meaning it looked OK from 30 or 35 feet away), was powered by a 305 cubic inch engine and 350 automatic transmission, but most importantly the body was intact, and it was drivable. Roger worked on it for 4 years, and drove it daily.

In 2008 the time had come that Roger was in a position to commission a shop in Clearwater to build the ‘49 into his dream Pickup. On his list of “must haves” were that it had to be able to be driven daily, use a Roadster Shop frame, be powered by a Ram Jet 350 engine (which combines the classic look of the original Rochester mechanical injection system with the dependability and optimized performance of contemporary electronic port fuel injection), and have a 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission. Other items that wound up being included were a Heidts Superide independent front suspension and 4-link rear coil-over shock setup, 9-inch Ford rear end, Wilwood 4-wheel power disc brakes, power steering, sway bars, and a power Pro’s Pick hard tonneau cover over the impressive wood and stainless bed floor.

When asked what color he wanted, Roger whipped out a GM color chip with the code number. The shop thought that he should use something “special”, but Roger told them he wanted that green color, with a saddle tan interior....period! So the truck was painted as Roger requested, and came out absolutely fantastic! Combined with a set of Billet Specialties rims, plus a nice and low raked stance, it really sets off the classic curvy lines of this body style.

When the truck was ready for the interior in 2011, Roger took it to Dale Vancuren in Dade City. He installed the saddle tan upholstery that Roger was looking for. It also included stainless accents, billet trim pieces, black faced Classic Instruments gauges, and a custom console between a pair of bucket seats. A billet steering wheel sits atop a Flaming River tilt column, and a Vintage Air system keeps the cabin cool. It came out great, and in fact was chosen for the Best Interior award at Beach Blast 21, hosted by Mike Kelly’s Cruise News in Cocoa Beach on May 15-17, 2015.

Roger told us that the truck is not a trailer queen, nor is it a daily driver....but it is driven! To prove it he has over 40 trophies from Central Florida shows he has driven it to. The truck has also won other awards, the most notable being the Hot Hauler pick at the 2011 Goodguys show in Charlotte, and a pick at the NSRA Southeast Nats in Tampa during 2011. But probably the most rewarding thing is that Roger finally has a cool Chevy Pickup like he had wanted before he even owned an automobile himself. Though I doubt that his 16-year-old self could have even dreamed that he would one day own one so nice! CN