For a lot of builders, their first project is one they want to forget. Maybe it was a mini-truck that was hacked up with Autozone-special air shocks and pinstriping sourced from the local car wash, or perhaps it was an older C-10 with so much rust passengers needed a Tetanus shot after every ride; either way, most builders would probably rather pretend they never happened.

“Building any truck can be difficult, but the 1947-55 Chevrolet trucks can be especially tricky. After all, they’re just a tick younger than most baby boomers at a minimum of 60 years old.

Seong Lee of Las Vegas is a little different. This is his very first build ever, and although he’s loved trucks for most of his 46 years on this planet, he’s never customized one before. When he found this stellar ’51 Chevrolet 3100 a few years back, he knew that it was finally time to step into the ring and create the truck of his dreams. Then came the obvious question: How?

Building any truck can be difficult, but the 1947-55 Chevrolet trucks can be especially tricky. After all, they’re just a tick younger than most baby boomers at a minimum of 60 years old. That’s six decades of potential accidents, fender benders, door dings, bad paint jobs and crappy customizers to work through, because you never know who used to own the truck. There was a little bit of that involved with Seong’s ride. Being inexperienced, Seong bought the truck as it sat—in primer. That wasn’t the best idea, because soon he realized that it wasn’t in great shape, particularly the bed. Before he even got started, he was behind the eight ball.

“He dug around and found his saviors in the team at Airth Defined Hot Rods in Las Vegas. Finally, he had access to guys who knew what they were doing, and he was on the road to success.”

Then came the first company to take part in the project, which we’ll just call Builder No. 1. Eight months into the process, Seong not only saw no results, but it was debatable if he was now in a worse position than when he started. So he dug around and found his saviors in the team at Airth Defined Hot Rods in Las Vegas. Finally, he had access to guys who knew what they were doing, and he was on the road to success. But Seong didn’t have much of a plan, just a few basic ideas. He loves his trucks one of two ways: lifted or laid. Since going up just didn’t seem to be a great option for the ’51, he went towards the concrete, which Airth Defined handled with no problem. Now the truck squats on those iconic steps perfectly, swallowing up the 20-inch billets like it was born to do.

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Then there was the drivetrain: What should he do there? Money and availability were the two biggest factors, so he went with a drivetrain from a 2004 Pontiac GTO, because it fulfilled both of those qualifications.

This clean ’51’s power plant came from a 2004 Pontiac GTO, and it pushes the truck down the road with 319 horses.

This clean ’51’s power plant came from a 2004 Pontiac GTO, and it pushes the truck down the road with 319 horses.

By the time they were done, Airth Defined had taken the truck to the next level, and the only thing stopping them from getting it done sooner was Seong’s wallet.

“He still has plenty more that he wants to build, and more that he’d like to do to the truck in the coming years.   No one knows for sure what’s next, but now that he has an excellent team that he can work with, there’s nothing holding Seong back.

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It took around three years to finish everything, and as is to be expected in these situations, the customization addiction has definitely taken hold of Seong. Although he’s enjoying the truck now, he still has plenty more that he wants to build, and more that he’d like to do to the truck in the coming years. No one knows for sure what’s next, but now that he has an excellent team that he can work with, there’s nothing holding Seong back.

 

Truck Specs

Owner:

Seong Lee

1951 Chevrolet 3100

Las Vegas, NV

Engine:

  • 2004 Pontiac GTO 350-ci V-8
  • 319 hp, 321-ft-lb torque
  • 2004 GM 4L60E transmission
  • Entropy radiator
  • Entropy cooling fans
  • Energy Suspension motor mounts
  • K&N air cleaner
  • Sanderson ceramic-coated headers
  • 2.5-inch ceramic-coated custom exhaust
  • Borla ProXS muffler
  • MSD wires
  • Lokar shifter
  • Street Performance drive accessories and pulleys
  • Driveshaft from Adam’s Driveshaft and Offroad, Henderson, NV

Suspension:

  • Zach, Jason and the team at Airth Defined Hot Rods, Las Vegas
  • TCI Mustang II front clip with airbags
  • TCI Mustang II control arms
  • TCI Mustang II drop spindles
  • Toxic shocks
  • CPP Big Brake kit front
  • CPP brake booster
  • CPP master cylinder
  • Triangulated 4-link
  • Sleeve-style rear airbags
  • Accuair air management system
  • Two VIAIR compressors
  • Stainless steel hard lines for air system
  • GM rear disc brakes
  • Chevrolet 10-bolt rearend narrowed 10 inches
  • 3.43:1 gear ratio
  • 20-gallon custom aluminum gas tank

Wheels & Tires:

  • 20×8.5 and 20×10 Intro Retro billet wheels
  • 275/30ZR20 and 305/30ZR20 Bridgestone Potenzas

Body & Paint:

  • Mike, Louie and the team at Sam’s Auto Body, Las Vegas
  • AkzoNobel Nissan Blue paint
  • Reproduction grille
  • Seam-filled hood
  • One-piece glass conversion
  • Shaved gas filler
  • Custom roll pan by Airth Defined Hot Rods
  • One-off bed cover with actuators by Airth Defined Hot Rods
  • 1937 Ford sedan taillights
  • Push-button 1954 Chevrolet door handles
  • Smooth firewall
  • Custom-built front apron

Interior:

  • Roman and the team at Your Dream Car Upholstery, Las Vegas
  • Leather, vinyl and suede upholstery
  • Loop carpet
  • 2011 Chevrolet Colorado seats
  • Custom one-piece headliner
  • Custom dashboard by Zach, Jason and Mark Marshall at Airth Defined Hot Rods, Las Vegas
  • Billet steering wheel
  • Lokar Billet pedals
  • Vintage Air AC
  • Watson’s StreetWorks billet switches
  • Custom built kick panels
  • Custom-polished billet aluminum console
  • Dakota Digital VHX three-in-one gauges
  • Three-point retractable seatbelts
  • Stereo installed by Airth Defined Hot Rods, Las Vegas
  • Pioneer AVH-X4600BT 7-inch touchscreen head unit
  • Infinity 6.5-inch mids and 1-inch tweeters
  • JL 12W3 subwoofer located behind the seat
  • Alpine PDX-V9 five-channel amplifier
  • Backup camera
  • Dynamat Xtreme sound deadener

Special Thanks From Owner: “First and most important, my wife Carie, I love you. Zach and Jason at Airth Defined Hot Rods, Mike and the crew at Sam’s auto body in Las Vegas, Ramon and the crew at Your Dream car upholstery, Tucker’s truck parts, Dream car audio and my neighbors, Frank and Mark Marshall.

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