Brown ’N Down | ’54 Chevy five-window

GM’s AD (Advance Design) trucks were some of the most beautiful to ever come out of Detroit, and even decades later inspired the design of both the Chevy SSR and HHR. 

1954 was the first year that the AD trucks would feature a one-piece windshield design, which created an even sleeker profile — one that would catch the attention of Dave Gonzales when he was looking for a cool custom truck to enjoy. Dave had always been a fan of classic trucks, but he was more of a Bel-Air guy until a certain “Western Brown” ’54 Chevy five-window truck caught his eye. 

Although Dave already lives in one of Southern California’s custom ride Meccas, the city of Temecula, he had already been a loyal customer of Lakeside Rods & Rides in Rockwell City, Iowa. Shop owner Roger Burman and lead builder Bobby Hofbauer have been turning out show-winning rides for years, and every so often builds vehicles to resell when in-between builds. 

Sometimes those vehicles are built to the specs of the prospective owner, but very often Roger and Bobby follow their own judgment and just build something that they think is cool before making it available to a lucky new owner. Such was the case with this ’54 Chevy, which the shop took about a year to complete. The gamble with this method, of course, is finding the right buyer after spending a big chunk of money and time, but when your stuff is in demand and always off the hook, it turns out that it isn’t much of a gamble after all. 

Since Dave had already bought a Lakeside build in the past, Roger thought the ’54 might be something that Dave would be into and gave him a call. So, Dave flew to Iowa from California to check it out, and it was everything Roger said it was — and more! From the shaved and massaged body doused in deep Dodge Western Brown paint to the custom chassis with 18 and 20-inch US Mag Rambler wheels, this truck had it all! Best of all, it came with the reassurance of being built by one of the nation’s finest shops, which meant that Dave had no problem writing Roger another check. 

In fact, we think Dave may have gotten more than his money’s worth, as his Chevy has a lot of details that set it apart from others. For instance, the front suspension clip is from a Chevy S-10 pickup, which instantly upgraded the front end to independent A-arms with coil springs, disc brakes, power steering, and a lowered ride height. The frame rails behind the S-10 stuff were custom-built, and a built Ford 9-inch with discs was bolted onto custom lowered-height Chassis Engineering leaf springs outback. And did we mention that the chassis itself was color-matched to the truck? Rad! 

US Mags’ Rambler wheels look great on just about everything, including Dave’s Chevy. 18×7 and 20×10 sizing gives the perfect staggered look on this hot rod pickup.
Nothing short of perfection was good enough for this ’54, which meant that the bed had to be flawless. Tons of bodywork and freshly stained hardwood definitely got the job done!

The original 235 cubic-inch straight-six engine and Hydramatic transmission are long gone, and in their place reside a crate Chevy Vortec 350 from BluePrint Engines and a rebuilt 700R4 for a much more highway-friendly combination. 

You can’t beat a tried-and-true small block Chevy! The BluePrint Engines 350 was treated to a bunch of bolt-ons, such as aluminum heads, an Edelbrock intake manifold and carb, and Sanderson headers with a Flowmaster exhaust.

As awesome as the outside of Dave’s truck is, though, the interior makes a strong case for itself as the finest part. The guys at Lakeside Rods & Rides had dropped off the ’54 at Dan Weber Custom Interiors for some fresh custom brown hides on the seat and doors, and Dakota Digital gauges were installed to ensure that everything is as it should be at all times. And, of course, the truck had to have A/C, so an aftermarket setup was incorporated under the dash. The finishing touch was the Billet Specialties Edge half-wrap steering wheel bolted onto the ididit steering column. 

Since taking ownership of the truck, Dave has taken it to quite a few events, including various Goodguys shows and even the Grand National Roadster show. But, he’s also been spending time with his other new acquisition, a classic crew cab that we’ll be showing you in a future issue of Street Trucks! 

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