If your dad had a brand-new '68 Chevy shortbed when you were a kid, how great would it be to inherit his truck? What if you had the talent and the wherewithal to create a hot-rod hauler much better than when it was new?
Most trucks that are restored or resto-rodded today are comprised of high-quality aftermarket components, which often make them ride smoother, run faster, shine brighter, and stop sooner than any vehicle that ever rolled off of the assembly line in the '60s.
This black beauty started life as a white, six-cylinder model, complete with a three-on-the-tree. The owner's dad used it in his salvage yard body shop business as a delivery truck from 1968 through 1972, and then saved it for his son Butch, who wasn't old enough to drive yet. Just by catching a glimpse of Geri and Butch Gabriel's '68 shortbed, you can tell it has the look of a show-winner. Taking a closer look, you'll learn why the truck has garnered 10 trophies thus far.
The Gabriels have the perfect business for building a custom pickup, B&G Motorsports in Casa Grande, Arizona. B&G's slogan is, "If you can imagine it, we can do it." The proof to that catchy slogan is in the execution of their personal pickup that was six years in the making. B&G Motorsports is the pro-street rod body shop division of the family's salvage yard body shop business.
Butch and his team began the build with the chassis. Seeking a sleek stance, the owner sourced Belltech 2-inch drop spindles and Belltech 2-inch shortened coil springs. He equipped the coil spindles with '74 Chevy pickup front disc brakes. Gabriel shocks smooth the bumps for the nose and the tail. A 4-inch drop in the back came thanks to the implementation of Belltech shortened coil springs with a 12-bolt Chevy Posi-traction rearend, equipped with a 3.73:1 drive ratio. The differential's stock drum brakes were also renewed and reinstalled. Satisfying both safety and aesthetic requirements, stainless steel brake lines plumbed the brakes. Performance and style were also applied with P245/40R20 BFG radials wrapping around 20x10-inch Dimao billet aluminum wheels in the front, while P275/35R20 BFG rubber envelopes the 20x10-inch Dimao wheels in the rear.
The same '74 truck that provided the front discs donated a strong 406ci Chevy big-block V-8 engine. B&G Motorsports ported, polished, and deburred the Dart cast-iron heads and bored the block 0.060 inches over. B&G stuffed the mill with 9.5:1 pistons, a Crane camshaft, and topped the block with an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold and an Edelbrock 750-cfm four-barrel carburetor. Jet-Hot-coated Hooker headers were installed to the engine sides for effective treatment of the spent gases with Flowmasters, ensuring a melodious exhaust note. B&G mated the motor with a TH 400, enhanced with a B&M Shift Improver Kit.
With the underpinnings all squared away, it was time to renovate the exterior. Through the years, the pickup had worn two other colors besides the original white. Butch decided the truck needed to be gloss black to show off the talents of B&G's body craftsmen. In addition to installing a custom-crafted steel roll pan, the crew smoothed the driprails, tailgate, and front marker lights. The fuel-filler door was relocated to the rear of the bed to accommodate the relocated custom 16-gallon aluminum fuel tank that now resides behind the third member. After ample metal prep and priming, Butch laid down several coats of DuPont Black Enamel, finishing off with some color-sanding and clearcoats. The result of B&G's efforts was a liquid-black finish. B&G then installed jet-black Dodge Intrepid outside door handles and re-chromed the front and rear bumpers and the rest of the renewed brightwork items.
Since Butch had some creative ideas for the cabin, he put the B&G slogan to the test. He selected '96 Camaro bucket seats and had his finest upholsterer custom-cover them in cream Ultra leather. The same theme was applied to the headliner, door, and kick panels. Dolphin gauges replaced the original Chevy items, and the GM-optional Frigidaire underdash A/C system was covered with Ultra leather to match the rest of the interior. Butch topped the sourced '72 Chevy tilt steering column with a Colorado Customs leather-wrapped billet steering wheel. Billet Specialties stop and go pedals replaced the original factory items. Custom Sound Creations, of Phoenix, installed a Kenwood CD stereo system, backed by Rockford Fosgate power amplifiers to drive the subwoofers and speakers. This system perfectly complemented Geri and Butch's wishes for symphonic-sweet sound.
"If you can imagine it, we can do it," is a pretty grandiose claim, and until you see the Gabriel's, or B&G Motorsports', '68 shortbed creation, you'll see the old adage, "it ain't bragging, if you can do it," applies here. We've heard rumors that B&G is building another old Bow Tie pickup. When the Bow Tie is done, there's a good chance we'll be there to shoot and feature it.