One cool thing about early model trucks is they all come with history and endless storylines. It has been some 53 years since this '56 Chevy stepside pickup rolled off the assembly line in Detroit. During this period of time, many of these pickups have accumulated thousands of miles, while others have been stowed away and forgotten in barns, shops, and garages for decades.
Dean Johnson from Apple Valley, California, purchased a '57 Chevy stepside pickup years ago with full intensions of someday building his dream ride. After he and his wife Cheryl were married they wanted to purchase a home and start a family. Being a responsible husband, Dean made the sacrifice and sold his '57 to put the money down on their first house.
Some 20 years later, Cheryl purchased Dean a '56 Chevy big window to show her love and appreciation of his previous sacrifice allowing him to fulfill his dream. Knowing what he had envisioned was beyond his capabilities, he teamed up with Brent Heathcoat at Heathcoat Fabrication, also in Apple Valley. Brent has been a well-known custom car and truck builder in SoCal for many years, so Brent quickly agreed to take on Dean's project.
The first segment of this frame-off build was to graft and box a '72 Camaro front clip to the original '56 framerails. The front suspension consists of modified OEM lower and upper control arms with a pair of Caulkins 2-inch dropped spindles and Air Ride Technologies Shockwave pneumatic shocks. Dean wanted to make sure his truck had dependable stopping power, so he had a pair of '72 Camaro front disc brakes with factory 11-inch rotors, and OEM Camaro dual-piston calipers installed. Dean stayed with a mild wheel and tire combination, and settled on a set of Billet Specialties 17x8-inch polished aluminum Chicayne wheels wrapped in P235/45ZR17 Nitto Extreme 555 rubber for the front. A four-inch step notch was fused into the rear framerails to allow increased free negative travel. A pair of Air Ride Technologies Shockwave 'bags were mounted to the rear framerails and the four-link rearend mounting brackets. The Currie 9-inch rearend was stuffed with 3.25 gears, an Auburn posi unit, and 31-spline axles. The rearend was suspended from the frame rails by a triangulated four-link suspension setup. The rear disc brakes with 11-inch cross-drilled rotors and dual piston calipers were borrowed from a Ford Excursion. A pair of Billet Specialties polished billet aluminum 17x11-inch Chicayne wheels were consumed in a pair of chubby P285/40ZR17 Nitto Extreme 555 tires out back.