The first thing you’d expect to see on a world-renowned painter’s personal project truck is a fresh paint job, right? Maybe that’s an unfair assumption or a result of thinking too much inside the box; either way, KC Mathieu of KC’s Paint Shop can appreciate the value of a natural patina finish just as much as a high-shine gloss. There’s no way to duplicate what years of neglect and punishment from the elements can do to a paint job. Sure, faux applications can yield passable results, but for authenticity’s sake, KC decided to leave the worn surfaces of both of his latest SEMA projects completely as-is, without any cosmetic rehab whatsoever. Every dent, scratch, gouge and rust spot is a testament to what these trucks have endured throughout their combined 132 years of existence.

These trucks spoke loud and clear to KC and his pal, Steve Benson, as they spent the day wandering rows of salvaged vehicles. “Both trucks were found at … Valentine’s place in Burleson, Texas,” KC said about the sourcing of these two specimens. “He has a huge field of hundreds of cars and trucks. Every now and then we’ll stop by and walk the entire field, because he gets new stuff all the time. I was drawn to the Ford F1 and Steve was digging the Chevy for himself, so we made a deal on them before we left.”

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The trucks were plucked from the yard and brought back to KC’s new 10,000-square-foot facility. He’d recently moved in and was hoping to christen his new workshop with a fresh project, but since there was more than enough room for two simultaneous jobs, both trucks were sized up and slated for debut at SEMA 2016. “Prior to moving into the new shop space, we had a paint and body shop at the house. I wanted to expand operations and offer services in the mechanical, assembly and fabrication markets, as well as the paint and body services we have already gained notoriety for.”

The guys had four months to whip the trucks into shape before driving them nearly 1,200 miles to Vegas and back. Not having to worry about body and paintwork saved some time, but the builds had nothing to do with saving time. Without a skillfully designed suspension system and precise engine tuning, a straight and shiny shell of a truck wouldn’t make it outside the city limits. These two trucks were built to drive fast while maintaining high-performance handling, placing modern-day dependability center stage. “People may not know that I’ve worked as a mechanic for some years, so I wanted to let some of my other skills show with the design and execution of these two showpieces.”

With SEMA quickly approaching, and the trucks taking shape rather nicely, KC began planning the trip to the show. As the crow flies, the drive from Texas to Nevada looks easy enough on I-40, but appearances can be deceptive. There are a lot of wide open stretches through some pretty desolate country, definitely not spots for a break down. Nevertheless, trailering these trucks wasn’t an option. “We put in the time and placed craftsmanship over everything else during the four months we worked on these two trucks,” KC says. “Nothing was overlooked, and everything was tested before the big trip.”

The guys sailed smoothly through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, finally landing in Sin City for the big reveal. The only casualty was an AC compressor in KC’s Ford, but that little mishap was a direct result of his lead foot pumping up the rpm too high while it was engaged. “It was a quick fix. I was just having a little too much fun with the Aluminator,” he admitted.

While the subject of engines is fresh, let’s take a look under the hood of each truck. KC’s F1 is equipped with a fresh-from-the-crate Ford Performance 5.0L engine outfitted with a rowdy Roush Performance supercharger. Steven’s Chevy 3100 is no slouch either; it’s running a 408 LS mill with an SLP Performance supercharger. Both engines are capable of big power numbers, which might be missed by critics who’ve written off the “junk” trucks at first glance. “Aside from those who walked right passed the trucks without knowing exactly what they were looking at during SEMA week, there were way more curious onlookers who stopped to take a closer look. Most were surprised to see that these were pretty much brand-new trucks minus the body panels,” KC said. “Those who took the time to inspect these builds saw that we meant business … They both have that old-school farm truck feel, but with an undeniable modern performance twist.”

 

While the rusty exteriors are boldly juxtaposed against the technically advanced prowess of the suspension and performance systems, they are also reminders to KC that his skills reach beyond paint. “We knew that the trucks would end up looking cool with their natural patina finishes and altered stances, so we spent the time to build them to be dependable, and they really are. We put them through their paces as we drove to Vegas and back home,” KC told us.

 

What he didn’t mention is that the crew took the scenic route back to Texas after the show, which brought the grand total to a bit more than 3,000 miles. They headed north out of Nevada into Utah all the way up to Pikes Peak, Colorado, which hits 14,000 feet elevation. To say the trucks were driven to SEMA would be a severe understatement. They weren’t just broken in, they were pushed hard during their maiden voyage. “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome … Since the show, we have received healthy offers on both trucks. Steve sold his Chevy a month or so after we got back home, but I can’t seem to part with mine, at least not yet. I built mine to drive, and I’m looking forward to doing that far into the foreseeable future.” Maybe one day KC will have a change of heart. Until then, keep an eye out for either one of these trucks on the highway.

Truck Specs

Owner:

KC’s Paint Shop: Hot Rods & Restorations

1953 Chevy 3100 Pickup

Fort Worth, TX

ENGINE:

  • Shop: Mast Motorsports
  • GM 408 LS engine
  • 750 hp
  • Hughes Performance 4L80E auto transmission
  • J.E. Reel Driveline driveshaft
  • SLP Performance supercharger
  • Superchargers Online pulleys
  • Kinney’s Muffler Shop custom exhaust
  • Black Widow muffler
  • Kwik Performance drive accessory
  • Be Cool radiator
  • Odyssey Battery

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION:

  • Shop: No Limit Engineering
  • Complete custom chassis
  • Rear trailing arm setup
  • Ridetech coil-overs at rear
  • No Limit Engineering spindles
  • No Limit Engineering EFI
  • Wilwood booster and brakes at each corner
  • Moser Engineering 9-inch rearend with 3.50 gear ratio

WHEELS & TIRES: 

  • 18×9 and 18×11 Budnik Remington-L wheels
  • 275/35/18 and 315/30/18 Falken tires

BODY & PAINT:

  • Shop: KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations
  • Natural patina by Mother Nature
  • Original front bumper and grille
  • Altman door latches
  • Custom bed floor by Garrett’s Customs
  • Windows and seals by Precisions Replacement Parts

INTERIOR & STEREO:

  • Shop: KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations
  • Dash painted with BASF Refinish Washington Blue
  • Hydes Leather seat covers
  • Budnik steering wheel
  • Raingear Systems windshield wiper setup
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • RestoMod Air AC
  • Heatshield Products sound deadener

Special Thanks from Owner: Thanks to Aeromotive Fuel Systems, Amsoil, Be Cool Radiators, Black Widow, Budnik Wheels, Dakota Digital, Falken Tires, Heatshied Products, Hughes Performance, Hydes Leather, JE Reel Driveline, Kwik Performance, Mast Motorsports, No Limit Engineering, Odyssey Battery, Precision Replacement Parts, Raingear Systems, RestoMod Air, RideTech, SLP Performance, Superchargers Online and Wilwood Brakes.

Owner:

KC Mathieu

Fort Worth, TX

1949 Ford F1

ENGINE:

  • Shop: KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations
  • 2016 Ford Performance 5.0L Aluminator crate engine
  • Roush Performance supercharger
  • 750 hp/750 lbs-ft torque
  • American Powertrain T56 Magnum manual transmission
  • Kinney’s Muffler Shop custom exhaust
  • Black Widow muffler
  • JE Reel Driveline driveshaft
  • Be Cool radiator
  • Odyssey Battery

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION:

  • Shop: No Limit Engineering
  • Big 10 Chassis system
  • No Limit Engineering spindles and independent front
  • Trailing arm rear setup
  • Ridetech coil-overs
  • Wilwood brakes
  • No-Limit-Engineering-fabricated gas tank

WHEELS & TIRES: 

  • 18×9 and 18×11 Budnik Gassers wheels with sandblasted finish
  • 215/30/18 and 275/35/18 Falken tires

BODY & PAINT:

  • Shop: KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations
  • Original patina left intact
  • Original front bumper and grille
  • Dennis Carpenter rear bumper
  • Altman door latches
  • Garrett’s Customs custom bed floor

INTERIOR & STEREO:

  • Shop: KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations
  • BASF Refinish Black paint
  • Pinstriping by Tanner
  • Hydes Leather seat covers
  • Budnik steering wheel
  • Custom roll cage
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • RestoMod Air AC

Special Thanks from Owner: “Thank you to Aeromotive Fuel Systems, American Powertrain, Amsoil, Be Cool Radiators, Black Widow, Budnik Wheels, Dakota Digital, Dennis Carpenter, Falken Tire, Ford Performance, Heatshield Products, Hydes Leather, JE Reel Driveline, No Limit Engineering, Odyssey Battery, Pinstriping by Tanner, Power by the Hour Performance, Raingear Systems, RestoMod Air, RideTech, Roush Performance, Southwest Ford, Stang-Hi Performance and Wilwood Brakes.”