The 1947-55 (first series) Chevrolet trucks don’t get enough love. There, we said it. These rides have been on the road for decades now, and it seems like their more popular (and admittedly more available) newer model siblings get all of the attention. When you see a super clean truck like this ’51 3100, it’s got to make you question why that is.

Let’s back up a bit. In the mid-’70s, Carmen Vasquez’s father purchased a ’51 Chevrolet 3100 as a fun little project to pursue on the weekends. That’s exactly what he did, shaving the hood and vents and even making a custom diamond-plate tailgate, which still sparks conversations among the old-timers in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where the family lives.

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But in 1984, the elder Vasquez decided to park the truck because he needed the funds for his growing family (including little Carmen) and selflessly decided that they were more important than his hobby. Someday, he thought, he would build it again. You know, once he had some extra money.

More than 30 years later the money and priorities just weren’t there, so the ’51 spent its days in the same state it always had, neglected and in desperate need of repair. That’s when Carmen decided to take action. The details are a bit fuzzy, but in June 2015, he came up with the idea to have the truck hijacked in “Overhaulin’” fashion. He took it to Jeremy and his team at Tre 5 Customs in Peoria, Arizona—far away from the prying eyes of his dad—and got to work building the truck that would eventually be renamed “Legendary.”

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It’s little touches like this custom badge that make the truck so perfect.

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Twenty- and 22-inch intros roll the truck down the road, and mammoth Baer Brakes stop it.

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The dash was modified to fit a pioneer Double-Din deck and vintage air ac controls, but it’s done so well that it could be stock.

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Although the interior is completely custom, there are still quite a few stock touches that keep it in period.

Truck Specs:
Owner
Carmen Vasquez

1951 Chevrolet 3100

Carlsbad, NM

Engine

  • Shop: Tre 5 Customs
  • Turnkey Engine Supply, Oceanside, CA
  • Chevrolet 372-ci LS3 V-8 with 432 hp and 430 ft-lbs torque
  • Forged powdered metal rods
  • Mahle hypereutectic aluminum pistons
  • Nodular iron crankshaft
  • Cast aluminum cylinder heads
  • 2.160-inch hollow stem intake valves
  • 1.590-inch exhaust valves
  • 5/16×7.400 pushrods
  • 1.7:1 rockers
  • COMP Cams hot cam and lifters
  • Edelbrock high-performance aluminum water pump
  • Summit Racing radiator
  • Energy Suspension motor mounts
  • LS3 composite intake manifold
  • Polished stainless steel headers
  • True dual 3-inch stainless steel exhaust TIG welded by Tre 5 Customs
  • Dual 3-inch Black Widow Venom mufflers
  • 140-amp 1-wire alternator
  • Dual electric cooling fans
  • K&N air filter with custom intake
  • Drive-by-wire throttle body
  • All American Billet LS front drive system with All American Billet polished 6061-T6 pulleys
  • All American Billet coolant and power steering reservoirs
  • Turnkey Engine Supply wiring
  • Custom aluminum hoses
  • Color-matched valve covers with custom-engraved plaques by Hanro Studios
  • Turnkey Engine Supply 4L65-E transmission
  • 2,800 stall speed
  • Lokar shifter
  • Five-pinion gear sets
  • Heat-treated stator shaft splines
  • Induction hardened turbine shaft
  • Seven-plate clutch
  • Shot-peened output shaft
  • Revised valve body calibration
  • Custom two-piece steel driveshaft with carrier bearing
  • 20-gallon gas tank built by Tre 5 Customs
  • Strange Engineering 9-inch rearend with 31-spline axles
  • Eaton Tru Trac
  • 3:73 gear ratiok

Suspension

  • Shop: Tre 5 Customs
  • Roadster Shop Revo chassis
  • Parallel 4-link with pan hard bar
  • Ridetech RQ coil-overs
  • Wilwood spindles
  • Roadster Shop control arms
  • Baer six-piston 14-inch brakes front
  • Baer six-piston 14-inch brakes rear
  • Under-cab-mounted 7-inch dual diaphragm brake booster

Wheels & Tires

  • 20×8.5 and 22×10 polished Intro Santa Fe
  • Pirelli 255/35R20 and 305/30R22 tires

Body & Paint

  • Performed by Jeremy and Hector at Tre 5 Customs in Phoenix/Frank, Jackie, Jim and Chris at Ikandy Paintworks, Peoria, AZ
  • Shaved center hood seam and trim
  • Shaved cowl
  • Shaved gas door
  • Shaved B-pillar vent
  • Shaved stake pockets
  • Altman latches on doors and tailgate
  • Custom bead-rolled firewall and matching tailgate skin
  • LMC Truck replacement grille
  • LMC Truck chrome front and rear bumpers
  • LMC Truck bed
  • LMC Truck LED taillights and headlights
  • Custom-built gas door in the bed floor
  • Precision Replacement Products windows installed by Select Glass
  • Tre 5 Customs billet custom-cut badges by All American Billet
  • Fashion Paint Nature Green laid over black basecoat
  • Automotive HS50 clearcoat

Interior

  • Performed by Steve Yiu at Elevated Design, Phoenix
  • TMI Products Bentley carpet
  • TMI Products Sport X seats
  • Wrapped headliner
  • Double-DIN radio and Vintage Air AC control custom fitted to the stock dashboard
  • Painted trim piece around radio and AC controls
  • Wrapped dashboard
  • Dakota Digital VHX direct-fit gauges
  • All American Billet interior handles
  • Vintage Air Gen IV AC
  • Custom console
  • Custom door panels and kick panels
  • Single-piece side window conversion
  • Power side windows
  • Pioneer head unit
  • Rockford Fosgate wiring
  • One five-channel Rockford Fosgate Punch amplifier
  • One 10-inch Rockford Fosgate Punch series shallow-mount subwoofer
  • Kinetik HC1800REV battery
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The LS3 engine from turnkey engine supply looks right at home under the hood of the ’51.

“… Merely two years ago, it was just one of those things that kept getting put off and would likely never be finished. It just goes to show that you can’t keep a good truck down.”

A quick glance at the tech specs will tell you that this truck was built right. It sits on a chassis from the Roadster Shop, which says a lot about the process right there. From the LS3 engine built by Turnkey Engine Supply to the 20- and 22-inch Intro Santa Fe wheel combo, everything is done in a clean and simple fashion that’s engineered for a reliable and fun driving experience. No truck is bulletproof, but this one is as close as they come.

As is so often the case, it’s the little things that make this truck stand out. The Tre 5 Customs billet badges on the hood are subtle, because they’re done in the same style as the originals. The dashboard, while stock, was tweaked to fit Vintage Air AC controls and a Pioneer double-DIN stereo. Plus, all of the lighting on the truck is done with LEDs, so it’s high visibility and low voltage. To finish it off, the paint and bodywork by Frank and his crew at Ikandy Paintworks in Peoria, Arizona, killed it. The body is smooth as silk and the finish is second to none.

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It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Today, the truck is complete and back home in Carlsbad, where Carmen’s dad is enjoying having it in his life again. But merely two years ago, it was just one of those things that kept getting put off and would likely never be finished. It just goes to show that you can’t keep a good truck down, and you never know what life is going to bring you. ST

Special Thanks From the Owner: “Special thanks to El Primo Oilfield Services for hooking me up with Tre 5 Customs and Ikandy Paint Works. I also want to thank God and all my friends and family for helping me make that special memory and build possible.”

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2016 print issue of Street Trucks.