Hurricane Katrina: two words that serve as a sobering reminder of one of the greatest natural disasters to ever befall the United States. In 2005, Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast region, killing nearly two thousand people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. All told, Katrina's wrath caused a staggering $84 trillion in damages. Joe Damare, a 51-year-old construction professional from Mandeville, Louisiana, was one of the millions affected by the hurricane. As the storm passed through the city of Mandeville, flooding and high winds damaged many houses in his neighborhood. After the winds had died down and the waters receded, Joe put his construction knowledge and tools to work, helping his neighbors sift through the debris.

While removing fallen trees from a friend's yard, he came upon the shell of a rusty old 1948 Chevy pickup, partially buried beneath the wreckage. His friend had been planning to rebuild it someday, but under the circumstances, the truck's future seemed bleak. However, as thanks for his help, Joe's friend offered him the Chevy, asking him to give it a good home. Joe accepted, and over the next five years, this empty shell would become one of the Gulf Coast's finest custom trucks.

Although Joe had considerable experience working with his hands at construction sites, he had never built a custom vehicle before, so he quickly began learning from his friends who had. Work on the truck began under the instruction of his friend Dave, with whom he started building a custom chassis and suspension. A new front end was assembled using a steering rack and control arms from a Mustang II, along with 2-inch drop spindles for an aggressive stance. Joe wanted a modern approach to his classic's suspension, so he mounted Slam Specialties airbags with SMC valves front and rear, giving the truck the ability to ride comfortably on-road and lay out completely at shows. Joe topped off the new chassis with a set of four slotted and vented Mustang disc brakes, chrome American Racing wheels, and sticky Mickey Thompson S/R tires. The tires are a massive 18 inches wide in the rear, giving the truck an imposing presence.

With the rolling chassis completed, Joe moved on to the engine and drivetrain. A Chevy 350ci V-8 was mounted to a Gearstar 700-R4 transmission, which delivers power to the wheels through a 9-inch Ford differential with Richmond 4.11 gears. To stabilize the power, the rearend was also reinforced with a triangulated four-link setup. The engine exhales through Sanderson headers and a custom side-exit exhaust system with Cherry Bomb mufflers. Joe even welded in some electronic cutouts for extra rumble. When combined with the ported and polished Edelbrock heads and .488/.510 lift cam, the entire setup produces a respectable 410 hp and 408 lb-ft of torque.