Tom Brown's 1948 Chevy Cab-Over-Engine Pickup (from October 2002)

There is no denying it. If you have a vehicle that is way different than most at a gathering, people will notice. This very thing happened to Tom Brown in 1992 when he attended Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada. He saw a C.O.E. (Cab Over Engine) done up with a flat bed out back, and though he wanted to do it a little different, it was at that point that Tom decided he would build a C.O.E. of his own. In June of 1994 the project went on the front burner, and the “Pugster” 1948 Chevy C.O.E. was born.

For starters, a 1992 3/4 ton pickup chassis was extended 2 inches, for a total length of 133 inches. A ‘93 LT1 was moved back 30 inches from the original engine placement, putting it under the seats. This still allows for convenient access by flipping back a panel under the front seats, and also gives more leg room since there is no “hump” by the dash. A 700R4 overdrive automatic by Fourth Gear in Apopka, Florida routs the power back to the ‘92 rear end, which was narrowed to accept the dual tires on each side, and fitted with .410 gears. That oh so cool stance is achieved by air bag suspension at all corners, which when parked and lowered leaves the front bumper mere inches high.

Wanting more interior room, the cab was given a 34 inch extension thanks to a ‘51 Chevy Suburban body panel. The pickup bed came from a 1954 3/4 ton pickup, which measures 7 feet long. Electric releases on air struts control the bed cover, which once opened reveals the pristine oak floor. The rear fenders were widened 3-1/2 inches to help accommodate the dual tires, and blend in with the C.O.E.’s bigger proportions. The body modifications and paint work were done by Adams Rod Shop in West Palm Beach, which resulted in a super smooth ‘98 Volvo Midnight Blue exterior accented by Weld 16 inch polished aluminum Dually wheels. The grill was chromed, unlike in its stock state. The front bumper is the stock unit, which surprisingly is ribbed and very stylish for what was a commercial truck. The rear bumper actually started as another front bumper, which was cut and straightened some to fit. Cool cutout notches for the exhaust in the rear bumper lend a cohesive feel, and the cutout for the license plate can be swung down to reveal a Class 4 trailer hitch....another nice touch.

The gray velour interior was done by The Trim Shop in Ft. Lauderdale, which lends a clean custom feel. The stock gauges were refurbished, then luxury items such as power steering, brakes and windows, tilt column, cruise control and air conditioning added. These items, combined with the extra room the cab extension and engine relocation created, makes for a very comfortable cruiser.

Tom did the engineering, layout, some miscellaneous modifications, and detail work himself, but of course thanks all those who lent their expertise and enthusiasm in various areas that made the completed project a reality. The “Pugster” has been finished about 3 years now, and has 12,000 fun filled miles logged on the odometer. It always gets the looks, and at our recent Beach Blast 8 car show in Cocoa Beach it got the most participant votes earning it the Best Of Show award, and a feature in the magazine. There is little wonder why it goes over so “big”. The more you look, the more you respect the unique ideas, quality craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into its construction. CN