Joel Gonzales married his high school sweetheart. The wedding was no hassle; he slapped down $475 and took her home. Since then, he's bought her nice things and even dressed her in purple and chrome. Her name is Betsy. He's fawned over her for 17 years.
Joel, a 32-year-old Conroe, Texas resident, bought Betsy, his '69 Fleetside shortbed when he was a teenager and has been working on it ever since. It's a hobby that has taken a lot of time and money - $30,000 for this project - but not so much that he couldn't get married (in reality) to his wife Sylvia, have kids, and launch a career as an insurance agent. Nevertheless, he does love working on his truck, and he works on it a lot. This is his fourth time rebuilding his Chevy, a fact that in his friends' eyes qualifies him for the loony bin. The truck looks better with every makeover. Open a copy of Truckin's May '01 issue, and you'll see - we splashed Gonzalez' lavender and turquoise-colored baby across our pages.
Look at it now, and it's just as good, but different enough to make heads turn. The truck is painted turquoise, courtesy of Shannon Robinson in Longview, Texas, and his baby's got a new pair of shoes - 20x10-inch Boyd Coddington wheels in the rear with P285/30R20 Yokohama tires and 20x8-inch Boyd Coddingtons up front wrapped in P255/35R20 Yokohamas.
But there's more to this truck's allure, and Joel has made sure of that. The chassis is smoothed and dropped. The mirrors are shaved, as are all of the emblems and moldings. The front grille is a '72 Chevy outer shell with a barbeque-grill billet insert. The antenna is frenched. The headlights, fenders, front bumper, and door handles are all stock. The rear bumper is nonexistent, replaced by a steel roll pan.
He also lowered Betsy about 4-1/2 inches from stock on coil springs in front, Firestone airbags in back, Early Classic spindles, chromed factory shocks (front and rear), chrome-backing plates and U-bolts, and brakes with turquoise-painted calipers, drilled and slotted rotors, and stainless steel brake lines. The wheels have a front and rear offset of 4 and 5 inches, respectively. Joel removed the factory gas tank, took an 11-gallon tank from a Chevy Vega, and placed it in the rear, where it is accessed by a round gas door.
Not only does this truck look nice, it has a great personality. Better than a heart of gold, it has a '76 eight-cylinder 383ci powerplant that lavishes 400 hp on anyone lucky enough to drive it. The engine has 194 closed-chamber cylinder heads, Crane cam, ceramic Hedman headers, Flowmaster muffler, 12-bolt Posi-traction 4:56 differential, Turbo 350 tranny with a B&M Shift Improver Kit, and a Mallory electronic distributor and spark coil.
Turquoise dash and doors complement the truck's otherwise gray interior, which is short on amenities but long on clean classic styling. The seats are bound by gray Mustang GT leather, thanks to Cisco's Boat Covers & Upholstery in Conroe. Custom gray panels mellow the doors, a billet insert frames the white instrument gauges in the dash, gray carpet lines the floor, and a Pioneer cassette player drives a basic sound system. Otherwise, Joel has no A/C, no seatbelts, nothing that doesn't help his truck look or run great.
This truck isn't Joel's only girl, she does have a sister. He's presently working on a '68 Chevy Fleetside. In addition to that, he tinkers with a '72 Chevrolet K5 Blazer. Joel says, "I really love the '67-'72 Chevy Trucks." And so do we.