Mike Bigelow's 1955 Chevy Pickup
(from Volume 19, Issue 235)

story by owner Mike Bigelow, photos by Michael B. Kelly


After searching the internet repeatedly, I found my first classic car on eBay. I drove to Virginia with a trailer to pick up my first purchase, and found that its condition was NOT as advertised. The day I returned from Virginia, my brother found an add in a local classified paper for a 1955 Chevy Big Window Pickup. I could not believe it. It was exactly what I had been looking for! I purchased the truck on the spot from its second owner, who had recently traded a car hauler trailer for it. The truck had been unused for 20 years, but the inline six-­cylinder would run for a short time. After hauling it home, I promised my two daughters, who were both in elementary school, that I would get the truck running and take them to school in it that year. About 6 weeks of school were remaining, so I felt I had plenty of time to get it running. I found out that my assumption was incorrect. After installing a new radiator, master cylinder, and rebuilding the carburetor and countless other issues, I finally had it running the night before the last day of school. It wasn’t much to look at, but I loved it as the three of us went through the car line with big smiles on our faces. The whole time I was praying that it would not break down as we drove through the car line. We drove the truck around town for about 6 months until it was time to take it to the next level. After a week of work, I had the truck completely disassembled on the floor of my shop. The project began.

First, I started with a Heidt’s 4-link rear suspension and a Heidts Superide II independent front suspension, both with polished coil over shocks, and a Currie Enterprises 9-inch Plus rear end with 3.73:1 gears. Disc brakes on all four corners, are actuated by an under the ­floor ­mounted Corvette master cylinder, while a power rack and ­pinion provides the steering. Next was all new stainless steel brakes, and fuel lines to a No Limit 22 gallon aluminum fuel tank between the rear frame rails. Boyd Coddington Junkyard Dog 18x8 inch rims went up front, and 20x10’s out back, shod with 245/40R18 and 295/40R20 tires respectively.

I replaced the original old six cylinder with a Chevy Performance small block 383 cubic inch stroker motor, equipped with an Eliminator Vortec intake manifold and a Holley 770cfm carb. A March Performance Revolver serpentine system provides the mounting capability for the power steering pump, alternator and air conditioning compressor, and keeps things looking good under the hood. Backing up the 425 horsepower engine is a 700R4 transmission, flanked by Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Once assembled, the motor and transmission were fine tuned and dyno tested by Geno at Burnyzz American Classic Horse Power in Ocala, Florida.

Although the truck didn’t look like it was in bad shape once it was sent to be bead blasted, it turned out to have more problems than I previously thought. When it came time for sheet metal work, I turned to Paul Metz of Metz Rod & Customs in Mount Dora, Florida. In addition to the extensive sheet metal work, we shaved the fender and hood emblems and filled countless holes in the firewall. Once all the body work was finalized, the truck was painted a custom PPG green. I chose the green because the original truck color was green and I wanted to stay true to the original shade.

Inside the cab, I wanted a clean and simple style. We started by smoothing the glove box and ash tray, and installing a set of Auto Meter gauges with a billet bezel. Vintage Air climate controls and vents are installed in a custom extended dash valence. A modified ‘66 Corvette steering wheel sits atop a chrome Ididit steering column. A Tea’s Bench Bucket seat was bolted to a custom seat frame that houses a hidden storage drawer, and the emergency brake handle. Once I wired the truck with a Painless 18 circuit wiring kit, the truck was sent to Paul Pascatore Custom Interiors in Ocala for seat covers, panels, and a headliner, all wrapped in leather and alligator hide, as well as cinnamon wool carpet on the floor.

Finally, I turned to the truck bed, where I started with Bed Wood & Parts gorgeous African Marodo wood. I applied multiple coats of a two part Acrylic clear and sanded it between each coat with 1000 and 1500 grit sandpaper. Then polished stainless steel bed strips were added with hidden fasteners.

The truck took a little over 3 years to build and I am just now showing it. I hope to enjoy it and share the fun with my two daughters for many years. We have come a long way since that first ride through the car line! -Mike Bigelow