While attending the prestigious Hot August Nights show in Reno, Nevada, we came across this incredible double-nickel Chevy Apache owned by Mike Brown of Carson City, Nevada.
Mike first came across the truck in a local salvage yard after a buddy gave him a heads-up about a potential custom stunner. After inspecting the carcass, Mike posted $50 in exchange for the pink slip. Following its first freedom tow, it was unloaded into the shop where it was disassembled. Since Mike has retired from his excavating business, which his two son's Kenny and Craig have inherited, he has been able to devote more time to his passion of building street rods. He builds one custom ride each year just in time to be debuted at Hot August Nights. Mike has enjoyed numerous custom rides during his joyous hot rod journey. His wife, Virginia, and his sons have accepted his high-octane addiction to buildin' and drivin' wild rides.
From the beginning of Mike's "Copperhead" '55 project, he had a vision of the finished masterpiece. Mike has always wanted to incorporate a Corvette suspension with an early model pickup.
To accommodate the factory Corvette rear suspension, Mike shortened the truck's framerails 7-1/2-inches, just in front of the rearend step of the framerails. Mounting brackets were fabricated and welded to the framerails, and then the '89 Corvette rear suspension was bolted to the truck's frame brackets. The framerails were squared and boxed creating added strength and rigidity. The front framerails were narrowed 3 inches to align with the Corvette front clip. With the front suspension aligned, level, and squared, it was welded into place. The front control arms and spindles were set up with a pair of QA-1 shocks and Air Lift airbags, which allow the nose to drop 6 inches. A pair of Corvette 12-inch rotors and twin piston calipers produce superior stopping capability up front. A pair of 17x8-inch polished billet aluminum Center Line wheels are wrapped with 245/45ZR17 Goodyear g-Force rubber. The rear suspension-featuring a lateral, mono composite leaf spring with QA-1 shock absorbers-is all Corvette (IRS) and allows the rear to squat 4 inches. Out back, the horsepower is transplanted into the asphalt with stout 275/40ZR17 Goodyear g-Force meats engulfing the 17x8-inch Center Line billet aluminum wheels.
A '99 Chevy 454ci Vortec engine is wedged between the framerails and smoothed firewall and is backed up to a '89 Corvette 700-R4 transmission and a B&M Mega Shifter. Driveshaft Service is responsible for linking the power to the Corvette rearend. The exhaust manifolds and 3-inch pipes flow into a pair of Flowmaster muffs; the tailpipe tips exit through the steps of the bed. The trick engine cover was sliced and diced from a '57 Chevy truck hood by Gary Morrell from Reno. Mega hours were spent creating this one-of-a-kind metal sculpture.
Mike altered the stock roofline 3 inches and removed all chrome and stainless body moldings. The leading edge features a freshly chromed bumper and grille flanked by a pair of halogen headlights. The rear fenders were reshaped and welded before being molded in to fit the new all-steel, handmade bed. The side steps of the bed were shortened 3 inches, welded to the fenders and bed, and molded in. A large one-piece, rear roll pan continues up to the bedrail. The bedrail is all one piece with radiused corners. The entire steel bed floor and wheeltubs are all welded and molded in, creating a seamless bed. After all the intricate body and bed mods, Gary Morrell laid down some House of Kolor Copper Sunburst and proceeded to color-sand and bury it in multiple coats of clear. Extended buffing and polishing created endless depth to the new color and complexion.
The immaculate, simple interior features a smoothed dash with a billet aluminum, ball-milled gauge cluster filled with Auto Meter white-face gauges. Glen's Upholstery in Reno performed the exquisite stitch-work on the cream leather. Seating comfort is created from a pair of '82 Audi low-back seats, which are also covered in cream leather with timeless tuck 'n' roll inserts. A cream leather custom center console houses the Alpine stereo head unit; and the defroster, heater, and fan controls are within an arms reach. You won't find anyone wearing shoes inside Mike's ride with cream leather floor covering. A set of billet aluminum pedal covers tidy up the foot controls. A 13-inch Billet Specialties steering wheel rests on the color-matched steering column.
It seems every custom effort has been thought out and performed by a meticulous craftsman-every weld, paint stroke, and wrench rotation. We can't wait to experience Mike's next rolling metal masterpiece.
During the writing of this story, we sadly learned of the passing of Mike's oldest son, Mike Jr. On behalf of the entire Truckin' staff, we send our deepest condolences to the Brown family.