Tim Casey's 1954 Chevy Pickup Restoration
Words by Tim Casey
Photos by Alex Harris and Tim Casey
My name is Tim Casey and I'm from Oaks, Pennsylvania, which is about a few dozen miles west of Philadelphia. I've been wrenching on cars with my dad for as long as I can remember. I have always liked the 47-55 Chevy AD trucks but never liked the original state of them; slow and riding rough. I have always dreamed of having one of those trucks that can be driven and used – fun and fast with modern technology.
So after long thought, I decided to sell one of my cars that I had owned for 7 years, which was needed to raise money to help build my dream truck.
I was scared and excited. I don’t have a garage big enough to work in and this would have to be tackled outside in my driveway under a fold-up 10x20 tent since the truck was too big to fit into the garage.
I worked on this truck –entirely on my own– on weekends and holidays. I worked on it Friday nights after work until dark, all day Saturdays until dark, and all day Sundays until dark, rain or shine, from 20 degrees cold to 100-plus degrees hot. It didn't matter! I started the restoration project in June 2018 and finished up in November 2018.
I have never tackled a complete restoration, but I set out anyway in search of my dream truck. I wanted a truck that I wasn't scared to drive and didn't have to worry about checking the forecast on my phone or worry about every scratch or ding. This was going to be the perfect truck, one that could be driven, used and enjoyed. It would not sit under a cover only to come out a few times a year.
The '54 1/2 ton was purchased at the end of May 2018 and was a one-owner truck. The original owner bought it brand new in Maryland and it stayed a Maryland truck all its life until I bought it. The original owner passed away in 1998 (he was 98 years old!) and it was parked in his barn for 20 years until his wife passed away in January of 2018. I even have the original title in the original envelope from 1954!
I repaired all the rust to try and make it look like an Arizona barn find. Mustang II front end, all new suspension with power steering, etc, and most importantly, a fuel-injected modern V8 LS engine out of a 2003 GMC Yukon. To make this engine run I needed POL for the gas tank, along with the fuel line, fuel pump, and regulator to make it happen.
When I purchased this truck, I had figured it would be a two-year project, but I worked my butt off every single weekend and Friday night after work (usually 35 hours every weekend and that’s after working 50 hours a week at my paying job).
I did EVERYTHING to this truck! I did the paint and all 100% by myself. (My wife, Rachel, helped me install the windshield and she helped me carry the bed off the frame and put it back on), but that’s it. It was all me and I’m super proud of it and my work. I'm blown away that it only took me 5 months to complete! That’s from start to finish!
Here’s some information on the truck
Engine — Chevy 5.3L Vortec LS out of a 2003 GMC Yukon, Summit racing LS swap exhaust manifolds, custom motor mounts, GM muscle car oil pan, pcm tune, and custom harness.
Transmission — NV3500 5 speed manual. I'm a stick shift guy and not one of my or my wife's cars are automatic, so my goal was to keep this truck manual transmission. Originally a 3-on-the-tree, I removed the entire drivetrain and converted it to a stick shift.
Frame — original (modified)
Suspension — Solid front axle removed. Boxed frame and installed tubular Mustang 2 independent front suspension with coil overs, TCI (total cost involved) front suspension setup. Power steering rack, adjustable coil overs, adjustable sway bar. The rear is TCI parabolic rear leaf springs
Exhaust — I scratch built the entire exhaust and welded it with side exit exhaust
Body work — Replaced front floors, both inner and outer cab corners, both front lower cowls, patch-worked the bed and tubbed the rear. Made it all look like it was originally never rusted.
Bed wood — Composite wood with aluminum strips
Fuel tank — Relocated new 19-gallon tank to rear frame (removed stock interior tank)
Wheels — Riddler 695 (front is 18x8 225/45zr18 & rear is 18x9.5 255/45zr18)
Interior — Reclining bench seat (TMI brand seat), new auto custom carpet, all new headliner, kick panels, doors panels, all new glass, 32” tilt steering column Hurst short-throw shifter, Dakota digital vhx gauges, Volante leather steering wheel, retro sound radio, Dyna matter the inside of the truck, custom made cup holders (used old ac Delco oil filters with a timing chain), clutch fork (mounted a screen on the clutch fork as a backup camera), Subaru WRX clutch/brake pedal assembly, booster, and master cylinder
I completely stripped off every single wire and completely rewired the entire truck front to back.
I don’t own a shop or garage, but I put a fake garage name (my last name) on the sides of the doors to make it look like an old shop truck (I did the stencil myself).
As the truck aged and started to rust, the owner brush painted silver paint over top of the original blue paint, to act as a protector to help slow down the rust. I sanded the silver down to make it appear as a faded repaint coming through to the original color and KBS satin cleared the entire truck.
I still use the original keys it came with to open and unlock the doors, lock the glove box and start the truck.
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