Brad Leary's 1949 Chevy Pickup
(from Volume 27, Issue 329)

story by Brad Leary, photos by Michael B. Kelly


My name is Brad Leary, and I moved to Florida in 1996 from Middleborough, Massachusetts. My family had a small farm and I learned to drive at the age of thirteen in a 1949 Chevy 5-Window Pickup so I could help out around the farm. I have a twin brother name Doug, and we did everything together until I moved to Florida. We built and raced drag cars, stock cars, and offshore racing boats. We were a handful in our younger years so they called us “Double Trouble”. As a result we named everything Double Trouble and Leary Brothers Racing. We also restored many muscle cars over the years, and my brother and I owned Leary Brothers Repair. We did general repair, restoration and late model collision work in the 1970’s and 80’s, and had three employees at one point.

I love cars and trucks, and I have owned 94 so far....and would like to make it to 100. I decided it was time for a ground up build before it was too late in life. When I say ground up build, that is what I did. I did all the design, chassis engineering and metal fabrication, as well as all of the body work and paint. I installed every nut and bolt, and everything is grade 8 or stainless steel. I also did all of the mechanical and electrical work. It is my build.

My 1949 Chevy Pickup project took about 3 years to complete, with a few medical issues along the way. I started out building a rectangular tube chassis with a state of the art Scott’s Hotrod independent front suspension with coil overs and power rack and pinion steering, and a GM 10-bolt posi rear end. After careful consideration I decided to use leaf spring rear suspension. Power is supplied by a GM 350 HO Deluxe Crate engine, which produces 333 horsepower at 5,100 RPM and 381 ft/lbs of torque at 3,700 RPM. Behind that I went with a 700R4 overdrive automatic transmission with a stock convertor. I am running American Racing Salt Flat wheels with a custom touch of satin black, measuring 18x9 inches in front and 20x10 inches out back.

I started my project with a pretty solid west coast truck. I used the nose, bed sides and tailgate. I bought a reproduction cab which turned out to be a lot of extra work. What I wanted in my build was a smooth look with custom touches. I did the bed first, and welded it together, when usually it is bolted together. I welded all the seams solid to eliminate all rust prone areas. I smoothed the tailgate and both sides for a clean look, installed mini tubs, milled red oak for the bed that I bought from Lowe’s, installed a roll pan that I recessed the taillights into, and worked the tops and bottoms of the bed posts on all 4 corners. Cab modifications include removing the louver on the right side, shaving the door handles, filling holes in the firewall, filling holes in the upper dash, and extending the lower dash to fit a Vintage Air Slimline unit into it. That also provided a new location for installing the headlight and windshield wiper switches like the sixties cars. I extended the running boards into the bottom of the front fenders, modified the front bumper fill panel, and tucked the front bumper. To finish my modifications I welded the center seam in the hood and filled all holes for a smooth look. I finished the final cut and buff with the help from the master, Mike Phillips, using all 3D products, and the results were amazing. For the interior I had help from Dave at Tops Inc. in Micco, Florida.

I have to give a lot of credit to my wife, Karen, for putting up with my long nights which left her in the house alone. I want to thank my friend Gene Warm for always being there when I needed a hand. I am grateful to all my friends for their support when I needed them. I completed the build just in time to make the NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida in November of 2021, and was pleased to get a Rep’s Pick award, plus of course to be photographed on site during the event for the feature here in Mike Kelly’s Cruise News magazine. I was so happy, and we had a great weekend at the show! CN