Classics: This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car - PressFrom - US

ClassicsThis Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car

18:10  11 september  2019
18:10  11 september  2019 Source:

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The local Chevrolet dealer had a supercharged ZL1 Camaro crate motor that was priced right. More important, the 565 hp right out of the box Although the old GMC might be instantly recognizable as an iconic pickup from the ’50s, this rejuvenated ride has the heart (and muscle!) of a modern sports car .

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This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car
When it comes time to create your dream ride, choosing your builder is usually the first critical step. Few of us have the talent or the facilities to complete an award-winning vehicle on our own and must rely on professional help. Internet reviews and word of mouth opinions can take some of the anxiety from the process but careful research is still critical to ensure success. Chassis Crafters in Daytona Beach, Florida, is one of those go-to shops where you can get your dream ride built and recommend them to friends with confidence. Ed Nash and the staff have been doing business at that location for only a half dozen years but they have already seen multiple feature articles showcasing their work.

Brad Grant is a repeat customer at Chassis Crafters. A retired corporate engineer, he is an active automotive enthusiast and has worked together with Nash in the past, having Chassis Crafters restomod his 1969 custom Camaro, a special car that was owned by his father and has been in the family for decades. Since the Camaro was a tangible example of the shop's talents, when it came time to choose the builder for his latest vehicle, Brad had no hesitation. However this build had an almost accidental beginning.

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Nash has a source in North Georgia—a friend who is also a collector—where he buys many of his project vehicles. On a recent trip, Brad tagged along just for the ride. When Nash picked up his, Brad spotted this 1955 GMC Second Series Big Window pickup. The Second Series differs from the earlier 1955s thanks to its scalloped hood, wraparound windshield, hooded headlights, 12V system, and distinctly more-stylish lines. The connection was immediate and Brad bought it on the spot. Nash smiles when he says, "It was a good thing we had a two-place car hauler!" They drove home with both vehicles and began the design process that resulted in the unique creation you see here.

This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car© Hot Rod Network Staff 009-1955-gmc-nash.jpg

The GMC was in good shape and the body was fairly rust-free. The original plan was to make it a patina-style, rat rod truck, leaving the weathered exterior but ensuring everything underneath sported the latest upgrades from the aftermarket. Typical for '50s-vintage vehicles, the fitment standards were a far cry from today's approach, since farm vehicles were more functional than pretty. On the plus side, retaining the patina and vintage gaps meant the build would go together much faster. Work began by separating the frame from the body. The sheetmetal was alkaline-dipped to reveal the bare metal since Nash does not believe in sandblasting. Too many pieces have returned warped and unusable. Once everything was apart, the decision was made concerning what to keep and what was destined for the scrap pile.

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After his car getting stuck in US Customs last year, he came out guns blazing; running a 6.34 at 230.30mph. Tom Bailey soon followed, answering Frost with a 6.21 at 228.50mph; a top five all-time run of Drag Week while previous Drag Week This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car .

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The chassis is original, although the framerails have been boxed and notched front and rear to ensure the new suspension additions would create the proper stance. Upgrades began with a TCI independent front suspension and Mustang II steering rack. The TCI four-link in the rear holds a Ford 9-inch fitted with a Strange centersection, 3.55 gears, and Moser axles. RideTech shocks and springs on all four corners guarantee modern handling while GM G-body brakes up front and Kore 3 versions in the rear haul the truck down. The five-spoke Coys wheels provide just the right classic touch, with 18-inch versions up front for crisp stops and turns, while the 20s in the rear provide the contact patch for the new motor.

It's at about this point, however, that everything changed. While the original plan was to create a patina-style, rat rod truck, sometimes vehicles have a way of orchestrating their own destiny! As the rig came together, each phase added more levels of subliminal charm until Brad was overwhelmed! The truck won and he abandoned the rat rod approach, opting for a custom paintjob. That's when Nash broke the news, saying, "Sorry, I can't paint it until I gap all the cut lines."

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This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car© Hot Rod Network Staff 006-1955-gmc-nash.jpg

It took some time to upgrade the tolerances into new millennium standards but it was the right move. Reworking the rest of the body prior to paint, the team added one-piece glass in the doors, H4 headlights, LED taillights, and lots of changes to the bed. New bedsides purchased from Mar-K made more sense than trying to rehab the old ones, but the tailgate is original. All four bed corners were rounded and flush-mounted to the tailgate. The original chains were removed and replaced with hidden latches and straps. Mini-tubs were fabricated inside and the wooden bed floor was replaced with steel, sprayed with Raptor bedliner. Finally, a flush-mounted gas filler cap was cut into the driver side rear fender. While the exterior sheetmetal changes were underway, all the chrome from the truck was sent off to Advanced Plating and work began inside.

As pretty as the exterior is, the upholstery is another delight once you peer inside. The interior was done by Ricky Howard, owner of Built By Ricky in Alexander City, Alabama. The frame of the bench seat was retained and, since all of Brad's vehicles have five-point Simpson shoulder harnesses, the bench was reinforced to accommodate the connection. Once the frame was complete, it was powdercoated then re-contoured with foam, configured with supportive bolsters, and stitched with carbon-colored, Relicate leather. The door panels were upholstered to match and a unique fiberglass shell covered in wool and leather was used to create the custom headliner. The new center console now houses the tall Lokar shifter and a pair of aluminum cup holders. Moving to the dash, the radio and ashtray holes were welded shut and Gen IV Vintage Air added, a task that required modifying the firewall slightly to accommodate the A/C components. Keeping the driver informed is the Dakota Digital VHX instrument package with a shop-made custom bezel. Keeping him connected is the Forever Sharp steering wheel on a Flaming River column. Since cool rides need cool sounds, the stereo was just one more element designed to make the GMC a road-trip favorite. Steven Ward from Chassis Crafters installed the double-DIN 7-inch Sony receiver that controls the two pairs of coaxial sets in the kicks and rear of the cab along with the 10-inch sub and 1,000-watt amp behind the bench seat. Sound deadening throughout quiets the cockpit and enhances the sounds of Golden Oldies. Black Daytona weave carpeting wrapped up the interior.

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This Supercharged GMC has the Heart of a Sports Car© Hot Rod Network Staff 005-1955-gmc-nash.jpg

Once all the basics were in place, the truck was sprayed a beautiful shade of Axalta Velvet Red followed by six coats of their premier clear. The truck was water-sanded in several stages, finishing up with 5,000-grit for that 10-foot-deep shine. Pinstriping by Mikey was the finishing touch.

Brad's original goal was simply a driveable truck for local cruise-ins but he now has a show truck and something that will be great fun next year on the Power Tour. It had just 98 break-in miles on the odometer when we photographed it and although it probably won't be a daily driver for a while, it will certainly be exciting to spend time behind the wheel. Although the old GMC might be instantly recognizable as an iconic pickup from the '50s, this rejuvenated ride has the heart (and muscle!) of a modern sports car. Brad's toughest decision will be which vehicle to take to the next show, the Camaro or the GMC. Either way, he can't lose!

1955 GMC

Brad Grant


Frame: Original

Modifications: Boxed front and rear

Rearend / Ratio: Ford 9-inch by Chassis Crafters LLC with 3.55 Strange centersection, Moser axles

Brakes: GM G-body front, Kore 3 in the rear, based on the Corvette

Rear Suspension: TCI parallel four-link with a diagonal link, RideTech shocks and springs

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The heart of a sports car . Four ferocious powertrain options help Camaro dominate the road without sacrificing efficiency. Camaro ZL1 with 6.2L supercharged V8 engine and 6-speed manual transmission EPA-estimated 14/20; Camaro ZL1 with 6.2L supercharged V8 engine and 10-speed

Front Suspension: TCI independent, RideTech shocks and springs

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It also has the same 6.2L Supercharged engine that goes into the Corvette Stingray Z06. I didn’t get a chance to test this vehicle on the track, but automatic in sport mode was my preferred serting The Supercharged 6.2L V8 gives it the heart of a Corvette, but the interior gives it the style of a Cadillac.

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Steering Box: Mustang rack-and-pinion

Front Wheels: Coys C5 Gunmetal 8x18

Rear Wheels: Coys C5 Gunmetal 10x20

Front Tires: Nitto Gen 2, 245/45-18

Rear Tires: Nitto Gen 2, 315/35-20

Gas Tank: Rick's Tanks, 16-gallon


Engine: 2019 GM crate motor, LSA ZL1 supercharged, SPAL fan, Griffin radiator with custom aluminum shroud, Concept One engine pulleys, 565 hp

Heads: Rectangle port LS3 aluminum

Valve Covers: Coil packs

Ignition: Factory electronic

Headers: Factory

Exhaust / Mufflers: Stainless steel 2.5-inch system with MagnaFlow mufflers

Transmission: GM crate 4L85E, four-speed automatic

Shifter: Lokar, tall shifter


Style: 1955 GMC big back window Second Series

Modifications: One-piece door glass, tinted glass, flush-mounted gas filler door in driver side rear fender

Fenders Front / Rear: Original

Hood: Original steel, flat

Grille: Stock GMC, chrome plated by Advanced Plating

Bed: All four corners rounded and flush-mounted to tailgate, wooden floor replaced with steel, mini-tubs, bed interior sprayed with Raptor bedliner, tailgate equipped with hidden latches and straps (chains removed)

Bodywork and Paint by: Chassis Crafters LLC, Holly Hill, FL; Pinstriping by Mikey, Palm Coast, FL

Paint Type / Color: Axalta / Red Velvet, six coats of clear

Headlights / Taillights: H4 headlights, stock-style LED taillights

Outside Mirrors: Vintage

Bumpers: Stock GMC, chrome plated by Advanced Plating


Dashboard: Ashtray and radio openings welded shut

Gauges: Dakota Digital VHX gauges, custom CNC-designed gauge bezels

Air Conditioning: Vintage Air Gen IV

Stereo: Sony XAV-AX5000 7-inch touch-screen digital multimedia receiver with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, 10-band graphic equalizer, MMATS 1,000-watt amp, Focal Auditor 6.5-inch coaxial sets in the kick panels and rear of cab, MMATS 10-inch subwoofer. Steven Ward from Chassis Crafters did the install.

Steering Wheel: Billet Specialties

Steering Column: Flaming River

Seats: Factory bench seat, stripped and reworked, headliner uses a custom fiberglass shell covered in wool and leather, custom door panels, Simpson five-point harnesses for driver and passenger

Upholstery by: Ricky Howard

Built by: Ricky, Alexander City, AL

Material / Color: Relicate Leather / Carbon-colored

Carpet: Black Daytona weave

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