The license plate that adorns this absolutely killer ’56 Chevy pickup is sort of an inside joke to its owner. While the House of Kolor Kandy Green paint is what grabs the attention of most onlookers, it has also been the main topic of this truck’s small number of critics. Yep, you read that correctly—people do actually take the effort to complain about the paint color, which is just downright hard to imagine. “Bright and flashy” might not be everybody’s cup of tea or coffee or whatever, but if it’s tastefully done, as in the case of this particular truck, a standout hue selection can result in a clean, classy and unique finish.
“Through the years, lots of people have said that the color has made them sick,” says truck owner Bryan Garst. “I hear it all the time and get asked why I didn’t just paint the truck black or red. Some people have no vision.”
While the “SIKNING” plate was meant to be a jab in the chops to all the naysayers, Bryan confirmed the vanity plate order mostly came to be because it was surprisingly available through the DMV. Some things just have a weird way of working out.
But besides worrying about what color to paint the truck or whether to opt for a personalized license plate, Bryan started this project from very humble beginnings some 18 years ago. Back then, all he had to work with was a cab shell with a single door—that’s it. There was no bed, no chassis or engine to work with. Bryan was going to have to pull off a miraculous recovery in order to get the job done, but he has never been one to shy away from a project in any condition.
“The only real hurdle that I had to overcome in the nearly two decades of building this truck was the number of new projects that popped up along the way,” Bryan admits. “That definitely slowed up my progress on my truck, but I never put myself under a deadline. I was sure I would get it done in my own time.”
While not having a chassis as a solid foundation to build on, Bryan started to craft one from scratch from steel tube and some quality aftermarket suspension components and complete kits. A Total Cost Involved independent frontend and a custom rear four-link helped get the handling performance and ride height he was after. Bryan has picked up a few things throughout the years while working on his own custom vehicles. He had his hands on just about every aspect of the build of his Chevy truck, as well as all his other rides before and during the process.
“I’ve never had any type of formal training in the automotive customization field or anything like that,” he says. “Back in 1990, a friend of mine handed me a welder to shave my own door handles, and I really liked it. Since then, I have had no problem cutting into something.”
Fabricating the chassis setup ignited the rest of the truck build for Bryan, even if the project was sometimes placed on the back burner at a mild simmer.
“I did put interest in other projects after starting on the truck, but I never lost hope on it,” he comments on the extended timeframe of the build. “Friends would always ask how the truck was coming along, and why I hadn’t finished it yet. The only way I knew how to answer was with the truth. This is my favorite year Chevy pickup, and it’s not that I didn’t want it done, I just wanted to do it in my own way, without putting any unnecessary stress on the situation.”
When Bryan would start back on the truck again, he did go pretty hard on it. He made progress on the bodywork and paint at a cruising speed in the comfort of his own home garage, and along with friend Bill Marolulos, was able to cook up a modern ’11 6.2L powerplant that would not only give the old truck much power to take advantage of, but with the convenience of utmost reliability. After all, Bryan’s main objective for the truck was to drive it and drive it often.
“Prior to recent years, all I did was work to finish projects,” he says. “Once one was done, I’d usually sell it to fund the purchase of another one or two more. Now, I am looking forward to doing 100-mile drives with friends with my completed ’56.”
Before Bryan could buckle up and hit the road, he would have to get through a solid amount of work ahead of him. Back at home he was putting in work getting the truck’s exterior ready to paint. After smoothing the original bumpers, widening the rear fenders, narrowing the bed box and tailgate and a conducting a bunch of other tricks, the easiest decision during the build process fell onto Bryan’s lap—the choice of paint color. The 12-coat HOK Kandy Green paintjob was a bold move that he didn’t flinch on in the slightest. Even though it has caused a fair amount of negative feedback from a few in the peanut gallery, the color has won over the vast majority of other classic truck fans who have seen it.
Since Bryan was dead set on driving the truck as much as possible, a lot of time and effort was invested to getting the inside of the cab in tip-top shape. Not only have the sights been well taken care of, but so were the sounds. An S-10 60/40 bench seat was cut and wrapped in fine cream and black colored leather skins. To give the dash an updated appeal, Dakota Digital instruments were wired up for a look that strikes the perfect balance of modern convenience and timeless styling. A healthy dose of audio gear was also expertly selected and positioned within the confines of the cab to fill its entirety with crisp, clear highs and deep, rumbling bass notes.
Although Bryan’s method of building vehicles may not work for everyone’s productivity expectations or patience levels, his practices have proven successful for him. Although he would wholeheartedly recommend starting with a whole truck—not just a cab—which would give you a much better start.
“If you keep on it, even if it’s just little pieces of progress here and there, you can get it done,” he adds. “Don’t give up.”
There are many reasons to continue despite the lack of light coming from the end of the tunnel, and some of Bryan’s are similar factors that could help us all dig deeper while wrenching.
“I have a close group of friends and family to impress,” he says. “Sometimes I would work all night alone just because I was on a roll with an idea and wanted to show my buds the next day. I really do enjoy building my own stuff, but without my wife and other supportive people in my life, I just don’t think I’d put the same effort into it that I do now.”
So even though Bryan may catch a sly remark from some random guy at a show about how he chose to build his own truck, it hasn’t (and will not) slow him down in the slightest when it comes to doing things the way he sees fit. He’s been at this for too long now, and he admits that crafting his own rides and taking in the full experience are both keys to what truly make this life worth living.
’56 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup
- Bill Maropulos and Bryan Garst, custom tune by Richard Schrope at Schrope Performance, Driveshaft Pro, Camarillo, California
- 2011 Chevrolet 6.2L V-8
- Stock LS3 connecting rods, pistons and rings
- Comp Cams camshaft
- Springs, VVT delete
- DeepMotor intake manifold
- GM fuel injection and headers
- Borla 2.5-inch split exhaust system
- 102 mm throttle body
- Billet front accessory system/dress-up package
- PSI wiring harness
- 2011 GM 6L80e transmission
- PSI 6-speed paddle shift kit
- PSI programmed TCM
- B&M transmission cooler under cab
- 1976 Cadillac Seville 10-bolt rear drive axle
Chassis & Suspension
- Shop: Bryan Garst
- Custom-built chassis
- 2×6, 2×4 and 1.5-inch round tube frame structure
- Wheelbase 2 inches longer than stock
- Ridetech Shockwaves front and rear
- TCI polished stainless steel independent front end
- Home-built chromed rear four-link
- Ford rack-and-pinion
- Performance Online fuel tank
- Fuel feed and return line in frame
- Chassis smoothed and painted Kandy Green
- 18×8 and 20×10 Raceline Jaded wheels
- BFG tires
Body & Paint
- Shop: Bryan Garst and Steve Cognata
- Graphics by LG
- House of Kolor Kandy Green mixed with Cream and Piano Black
- Original GM grille
- Smoothed bumpers
- Rear fenders widened 3 inches
- 4-inch narrowed bed box and tailgate
- Smoothed cowl, steps, tailgate latch
- Bed floor rises
- Pinched gutters
- JK Jeep LED headlights
- LED taillights and turn signals
- Shop: Zuniga/Gabby
- S-10 60/40 seats chopped
- Leather upholstery
- Dakota Digital VHX instruments
- eBay steering wheel
- Custom Autosound Bluetooth head unit
- Alpine digital amp
- JBL speakers and 10-inch sub
- Custom under dash A/C vent panel covered in leather
- 6-speed paddle shifters
- Pinstripe embroidered seat backs and dash
- Power sunroof