SOFT TOUCH – ROB VOSS 1957 CHEVY PICKUP

They say that one good thing leads to another. In the case of Rob Voss, he already had a good thing, a 1932 Ford three window coupe project. But fate would see him stumble across another, this 1957 Chevy pickup, which ranked little higher up on the ‘needs’ list.

Rob’s genesis is a familiar tale. “As a youngster I had GTR Toranas, then went through my Commodore phase, and then I grew up,” as he puts it. The three window project is something that he’d been working on for three years, it was ready for paint when the Chevy hit town. “I found the pickup in the local Sunday Times. I went for a look, as soon as I walked up the driveway I knew it was the car for me. It was original, it was straight, it was just the right starting point for what I wanted to do and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.”

The Chevy was a stocker, imported from Bakersfield back in 2004 complete with blue flame six, I beam axle and non-synchro three speed manual. “You had to get your timing right at the roundabouts,” laughs Rob. He ‘lived the dream’ for about three months before pulling it off the road to fulfil his plans. 

Rob didn’t undergo your usual body-off-chassis resto, in fact the white paint on the truck was so nice that he left most of it as it was. Instead he stripped it of bumpers, chrome, trimwork and mechanicals then delivered it to Trevor Breeze at Vintage Rod and Custom for him to install the Series 3 Jaguar independent front suspension. Jag’s have a HQ Holden stud pattern and Rob sourced a HQ Holden V8 Salisbury diff for the rear. Width-wise he reckons the HQ diff was spot on. It’s mounted to the original Chevy leaf springs, although they’ve had leaves removed and been retempered. The nasty rake is no mistake, it’s exactly where Rob wanted it.

Welding in new engine and gearbox mounts for the 350/350 driveline was a cinch, to keep the engine bay tidy the battery was relocated to the rear and Nic at Malaga Paint and Panel painted the inner fenders. The small block itself is an offshoot of the ’32 project, an “alleged’ rebuilt motor bought from Melbourne. Fortunately it proved to be a gem. 

Most of the chrome on the truck is original, excluding the bumpers and grille which are reproduction items and a better choice when it came to the budget. Hey, at least Rob can have some cool original pieces to decorate his garage wall now. The stainless trim around the perimeter of the tray is a great touch, Rob got the idea after browsing pickup pictures on the internet and spotting one in the background with a similar treatment. “It’s all 0.9mm stainless. I approached a stainless steel company who was able to roll the pieces I needed and then had them professionally polished,” Rob reveals. “I really wanted that custom touch, something that you can’t buy off the shelf.” Ditto for the polished stainless valance panel between the rear fenders.

50s pickups were workhorses and lacked much of the interior trim found on their sedan counterparts. Rob’s pickup is void of door trims but he did add “the luxury of carpet,” as he states. The seat trim is amazingly original although new foam has been installed. The roof insert and padded dash are also fair dinkum ’57. What appears to be an AM radio is really a head unit for a contemporary sound system, the chrome knobs control various functions of the concealed CD player. Similar are the vintage sliders for the heater which are actually controls for the airconditioning. They’re components of an airconditioning kit Rob located in the USA which is specifically designed for his model pickup. Topping off the aftermarket column is the original Chevy pickup steering wheel.

Rob wanted to build a great driving pickup without taking the ‘50s freshness away and he’s achieved just that. “I find it very comfortable to drive, I don’t mind taking it for a good 100km blast down to Mandurah,” he admits. Of course the ’32 coupe was a casualty of the project, sold off to a new owner, but somehow we think he’ll get over it.

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS DALE HABERFIELD. FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #156, OCTOBER 2013.
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