Inspired by some of the great builders of our generation, Rick Slape set out to build a classic custom that any builder would be proud to claim. With a lot of his personal time and skill invested-and some great work from local Bakersfield, California, craftsmen-the result was nothing short of amazing.
The base for this custom '48 Chevy is an '88 S-10 chassis that uses some stock equipment, like the OEM disc brakes, but also has numerous custom modifications. For example, the factory 15-gallon steel gas tank was modified to fit the '48 body, and the rear trailing arm suspension was handbuilt by Rick. At each corner, the custom suspension uses Firestone 2600 airbags and Monroe shocks to soak up the bumps. Also, on each corner are Eagle Alloy Series 212 two-piece wheels and Nitto NT450 tires. Up front on the ride are 18x8-inch wheels, while 20x9-1/2-inch wheels can be seen out back.
It's hard to decide where to start on the body modifications, so we'll just begin with the obvious. Rick carefully removed 4 inches from the front and 2 inches from the rear of the cab to drop it with a slight rake. With the metal gone, Rick leaned the A-pillar back and began work on making the doors fit. While he had the welder fired up on the door, Rick shaved the handles. From there, the welder didn't get much rest, as all of the fenders were welded on-they normally bolt on-and the bed was welded to the cab. Rick also frenched in two Cadillac taillights per fender, built his own tailgate, and welded in a roll pan of his own creation. The inside of the bed wasn't ignored, either, as a whole new smoothed floor was welded in. It's almost a shame to cover it up, but Rick's custom tonneau is a work of art on its own. A simple frame of 1-inch square tubing and angle iron was skinned with sheetmetal to provide another canvas for the yellow and flames-but we'll get to that later. To have the truck lay low and level, 2 inches were removed from the rear edge of the front fender, and the running boards were relocated 2 inches higher to match. The running boards also received a little finessing to serve as side exits for the exhaust. The bulbous stock hood didn't flow with the 'dropped-and-chopped look of the rest of the truck, so Rick let the sparks fly and pancaked it 2 inches. Now, back to those flames. With all of Rick's bodywork smoothed and primered over, Cory from Trenz in Bakersfield, California, sprayed a cool Yellow PPG basecoat. For sheer shock and contrast, purple flames began on the grille and licked their way across the fenders, doors, roof, and tonneau.
The smooth transition from the cab to the bed makes for seamless flames across the entire
Along with the leading edge of the hood and the dash, the smoothed firewall was pinstriped
A single gas shock opens the flush-mounted tonneau to reveal a flawless bed floor.
The interior of the '48 has nearly as many modifications as the sheetmetal outside. The dash was stretched 2 inches to meet the new door panels, before it was painted with the same PPG Yellow as the exterior. Rick fabricated both the custom floor and overhead consoles, and both got the PPG treatment before being bolted in. A horsehair-filled bench didn't belong in a truck like this-or any bench for that matter-so Rick rescued two buckets from a Ford Fiesta and dropped them off at South Chester Upholstery in Bakersfield. While there, they were wrapped with yellow vinyl and purple tweed to complete the yellow and purple theme.
Once you soak in the incredible bodywork and paint, you might be curious to see if the craftsmanship extends underneath the hood. And it does. Pop the hood and you'll see polished billet and cast aluminum and a chromed master cylinder surrounding the 350ci V-8. The smooth treatment didn't stop with the bolt-on pieces, the entire block and cylinder heads were smoothed to complete the look. Ray at Southwest Garage handled the engine build and installed a Comp Magnum hydraulic cam and MSD distributor to boost power a bit, but not enough to adversely affect the driveablilty. The headers are custom pieces, which were built by Rick and then silver Jet-Hot-coated. They dump into a 2-1/2-inch exhaust that leads to Stainless Works mufflers. Although it's not on display, if you do peek underneath the truck you'll see that behind the small-block is a Turbo 350, shortened S-10 driveshaft, and a 10-bolt Chevrolet rearend filled with 3.08 gears. It's the perfect recipe for a cruiser.
Rick has a lot to be proud of, as his '48 is a stunning accomplishment, but he's quick to point out the great work that others put into his truck, as well. Special thanks go out to Ray from Southwest Garage, Rod from Quality Transmissions, Jody from Oildale Glass, Skip from South Chester upholstery, and Joey and Cory from Trenz Custom Paint.