I’m sure we can all agree it kinda sucks when your daily driver truck gets rear ended on the highway at 60 mph. Yeah, that’s a no-brainer folks. But when it somehow gives you the inspiration to reach higher and build the custom hot-rodded pickup you always dreamed of having, well, that could be a blessing in disguise. Just ask Dan Johnson and he’ll tell you a good yarn on how his mashed truck became his new prized ride.
You see Dan decided not to let a little bad luck ruin his four-wheel fun. True, his faithful and pretty badass 2004 Chevy Silverado SS, all-wheel drive truck was pummeled in a high-speed collision, and then put out to pasture by the insurance folks. But with that devastating blow, something magical happened. He had a revelation that the carcass of this fine truck could be turned into something better than it ever was; better … stronger … faster!
Dan was inspired to take this heap of steel and make it into a brand-spankin’-new SS-branded steed. He knew that though it was a mess aesthetically, it still had enough of its bones to be rebooted into one killer hot-rodded pickup. So without hesitation, the totaled truck was bought back from the insurance company and wheeled back to Dan’s garage for metamorphosis; or better yet, repurposement into the “super truck” that Dan always yearned for.
Now our hero (Dan) has had a long history with playing with four-wheeled adult toys. Like many of us, his love of all things car-nal started as a young teen in the late ’70s, building models and dreaming of the day he could finally plant his butt behind the wheel of a sweet ride. Over the years, many muscle cars came and went from his garage, as he was always looking for something better.
And as he got older, Dan realized he didn’t want to keep them the way they were from the factory. He needed to modify them. He customized several cars over the years, including a 1964 Chevy wagon, a 1955 Bowtie family truckster, and even a 1951 shoebox. But being in construction, it was only right that all roads lead back to a pickup truck. And that’s what he was gonna build. No ordinary ride, to say the least … a hybrid of modern tech with old-school looks and charm. Game on!
Build It Up
Dan had a dream of an old-school ride that had the feel and dependability of a modern truck. He threw around the idea of mating his 2004 chassis to a vintage truck. When he sourced a cool 1966 Chevy pickup that needed work, he knew he had his ride. Now he just had to get them to fit together properly and fabricate them to work in harmony.
Dan started out with his 2004 chassis and got to work. He first had a C-notch cut into the rear framerails and a four-link suspension fabricated for the ride. This way it would fit the wheelbase of his donor 1966 Chevy pickup. Matching up wheelbases is one of the key elements of getting the two vastly different rides to fit together. Once this was done, Dan was on his way and he was not looking back.
Next Dan narrowed the rearend to fit the large negative offset rims out back. He had custom 20-inch wheels made to give the rear a deep-dish look. To top off the vintage look, a set of poverty caps were added to the modern-sized wheels for a stock look with a little attitude. He did this as well to fit around the large stock rotors and brake calipers that came with the original, modern chassis.
There are several body mods done here on the 1966 to make it all look cohesive. First off, the inner wheelwells were tubbed to fit the big meats in both the front and back. Next, the bumper bolts were shaved, and then the pieces were flipped and fitted and sent off to Space Coast Chrome in Florida for their show chrome shine. Blinker bezels were done as well to keep all the finishes consistent. Custom hood hinges were installed and the emblems, moldings, and door handles were shaved.
The windshield cowl vents were removed and filled, and a 1963 C10 double-hump dash was installed. The 1963 steel sail panels were also added to the mix and grafted to the B-pillars to maintain a stock look. To keep the doors operating properly, a set of Altman Bear Claw Latches were installed. These pieces will deliver us a rattle-free ride. Out back, the tailgate was welded shut to give it a smooth, finished look. Last but not least, the body was channeled 4 inches over the frame to give it that killer stance hot rodder truckers just dream about.
Bodywork was done at Richmond Auto Body not far from Dan’s home in Amityville, New York. For countless nights and weekends, Dan and his buddies slaved over the truck to get it just right. Once the body was cleaned up, the Chevy was sprayed in mile-deep black paint. The interior was next, and it was kept simple. Lipstick red vinyl was used, along with white double stitching to accent the black finish. Door panels were painted to match, and Dan used a fabric-like carpet that was stock on 1955 Chevys for the floor. He added some hot rod add-ons, like cool vintage-style gauges to finish off the cool vintage vibe.
No hot rod truck is complete without a killer powerplant between the rails. Dan decided to keep the original 6.0L LQ9 truck motor and modify it. It now has a FAST intake and injector rails and MSD coil packs. There is a custom-fabricated air intake system, March Performance pulley system, and an Edelbrock water pump. A set of stainless steel headers now grace the potent powerplant, and they lead into a full custom stainless steel exhaust system with electronically controlled dumpers. The engine has been massaged to the tune of almost 500 horses.
The transmission is an updated 4L60E with a 23-inch Lokar shifter. The original 12-inch rotors on the corners are more sufficient to stop this ride, especially since the build has sliced about 800 pounds off the original truck. To keep it cool, even during the hot New York summers, a custom shrouded Griffin radiator was installed up front. And as far as suspension mods go, a RideTech air-ride system keeps this truck riding low and in control, and hopefully avoiding those monster-sized New York City potholes. To control the height and ride, Shock Waves, a phone app, does the trick.
The wheel/tire combination at the corners of this brazen ride is nothing short of stellar. The rims are 20-inch aluminum pieces, center painted body color, and polished on the edge. They were custom made by Delmo’s Speed out of Burbank, California. They are shod with 265/45-20 meats with a 1-inch whitewall applied by Diamond Back tire. The combination just looks right on this smooth Chevy ride.
Sum it Up
This slick truck sports all the creature comforts you can want, such as air conditioning, power windows with trick roll-down cranks, blacked-out screen radio, navigation, and a back-up camera, while still keeping its mid-’60s good looks. A full, period-style gauge cluster adds to the look, and a GPS speedo clocks in your speed. And since it’s a REAL truck, it has a trailer hitch, hidden away behind the license plate when not in use.
Dan would like to thank his buddy Anthony Bordonaro, for his work on this wild ride. He did the fabrication and mechanical work on this beautiful Bowtie, and brought Dan’s vision to life, blending modern technology with iconic Chevrolet styling.
1966 Chevy C10
Chevy LQ9; Stock LQ9 aluminum header; Cast-aluminum flattop pistons; Powdered metal steel connecting rods; Hydraulic Roller cams; Fast LSX 92 mm with LS3 90mm throttle body; Painless fuel-injection wiring harness; Custom fabricated header by Anthony Bordonaro; Custom Griffin radiator with shroud and dual fans
Air Intake: Custom 3-inch cold-air intake by Anthony Bordonaro; Custom stainless steel exhaust 2 1/2 inch with electric cutouts by Anthony Bordonaro; 4L60E
2016 Mercedes Black paint by Richmond Auto Body (Amityville, NY); New Relic power windows;LED lights
2004 Chevy Silverado SS All-Wheel Drive chassis; Strange engineering axles; custom RideTech ShockWaves; RideTech airbags
1955 Chevy Steering Wheel; 1966 Chevy pickup seat; New Vintage USA gauges; Vintage Air air conditioning; Lokar shifter; 1962 Chevy dashboard; upholstery by V.J. Upholstery (Huntington, NY); Parrot Asteroid Smart radio
20×8 custom by Delmo’s; Diamondback tires