After graduating high school, Rodger Lee, of Bakersfield, California, decided to try his skills at building a rat rod. It sounded simple enough, he had grown up in the oil town located in the San Joaquin Valley where most teenagers admire hot rods and trucks. Beginning that first venture, he opened a small shop he named Ironworks Speed and Kustom, and began living a dream. Following completion of his first rat rod, Rodger found it easy to embrace the custom world's lifestyle. After a couple of years in the rockabilly scene, Rodger changed his rod building direction and began building hot-rod trucks. After all, Bakersfield has always been known for its cowboys and their pickups.

When we met Rodger, at the Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in 2004, he was still building rat rods but invited us over to his shop in Bakersfield, where he was throwing a BBQ/beer bash. While attending the festivities, he told us about a custom '57 Chevy Stepside pickup project he was about to begin. Always hungry for some new fresh tech articles, we were all ears. With his visionary ideas and simple sketches of an all tube chassis using Corvette C6 suspension and drivetrain, we knew the sky was the limit. The idea of an all tube chassis was something new and different and knowing our readers would enjoy the buildup, a plan was made to make many trips north to Bakersfield. Starting in issue 1, of 2007, we began covering the entire Black Gold buildup. Like many ground-up projects, not everything went as planned, which explains why it's some three years later, but we're finally able to feature the truck in all its glory. Trust us, it's worth the wait.

Black Gold's double round-tube chassis was constructed from 1 1/2-inch diameter .120 wall mild-steel with 1/4-inch-thick dimple-holed plates providing gusseted strength and good looks. Rodger designed his own suspension pickup points and geometry using all Corvette C6 factory aluminum front spindles and upper and lower control arms. The rear suspension is anchored by a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transmission and C5 transaxle with a pair of rear axle hubs, stub axles, and lower control arms. Chris Alston Varishocks were combined with two Ride Tech pneumatic 'bags up front for a proven and reliable setup. An aluminum torque tube with a Corvette six-speed shifter and linkage linked the Corvette LS2 flywheel and transmission input shaft. The Ride Tech pneumatic Shockwave rear suspension was setup with the Shockwaves laid horizontally and cantilevered with rods mounted vertically. A set of Wilwood 14-inch vented, drilled, and ball-milled rotors, with six-piston calipers are responsible for halting the black beauty. The round tubular chassis, Tremec transaxle, torque-tube, and suspension components were delivered to Specialized Coatings in Huntington Beach, California, where they were media blasted. After the chassis was powderocoated Torch red, the torque tube, Tremec transaxle, and suspension components were powdercoated gray.