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Atomic ’57

A Bomb Chevy Build Courtesy of Nostalgia Hot Rods

Text by John Mata Jr.
Photos by Kevin Aguilar

Imagine your dream truck, and then multiply its cool factor by a million (at least). That’s the kind of delivery Dustin “Bud” Hacker of Nostalgia Hot Rods (NHR) in Las Vegas guns for with each and every customer build that comes through his shop’s door. Take this ’57 Chevy pickup, for example. Dustin had a potential client approach him with a rather simple idea. All the guy was after was a clean Tri-Five truck. What he ended up with is the bombshell seen here. The customer might not have even had a clue at first if he was ready for the level craftsmanship poured into his old Chevy pickup, but now that he has it, there’s no going back to anything less.

That’s just the type of builder Dustin is, though. There’s a level that constitutes a respectable finished product, and then there’s the level that Dustin aspires to deliver. Neither standard is anywhere the other, but he’s been fine-tuning his game since before he was a teenager. “I’ve been building cars since I was about 12 years old,” Dustin says. “I owe it to my dad, who allowed me to completely tear apart my first car. I am self-taught, and hot rods have been a major part of my life since [I was] a kid.”

Dustin didn’t go straight from tinkering around in his parents’ garage to pumping out high-profile projects like this Chevy. As expected, he had to pay his dues. “I completed my first full-custom build when I was 19 and opened my first shop when I was 25. I’ve been in business ever since, about seven years now. When I first opened, it was just me, then I hired one guy, and we’ve continued to expand from there.” Dustin survived the tough years of growth and trial-and-error, and now he’s finds himself with more tools and resources than he ever dreamed he’d have at his disposal. “We now have a crew of 10 and do everything in-house from fabrication to interior work and paint. I first started working out of my garage with just a toolbox, so all this still feels unreal at times.”

The ability to work so closely with so many talented individuals has really helped boost Dustin’s potential for design and execution. To start, the NHR team began work on the ’57’s chassis with a complete kit from Total Cost Involved (TCI). It’s been outfitted with suspension components such as a Mustang II front suspension package, RideTech Shockwave ’bags, a custom rear 4-link and an impressive Wilwood setup at both ends. Staggered gray brushed Budnik Gasser wheels set off the star-studded chassis that gives the Chevy a low, aggressive stance that suits the truck’s demeanor perfectly. To further fuel the truck’s newfound aggression, the guys built a healthy LS3 to help propel it down the Sin City boulevards (and rack up points from show judges in the near future).

The truck was kept inside the NHR compound throughout the build process, so the team was able to spend a great deal of quality time with it. Although the truck’s surface is obviously clean and simple, the hours that went into creating that illusion were anything but easy. To start, Dustin developed a custom grille, hood and front bumper that weren’t overly flashy yet still demanded attention with intricate design and fitment. The same goes for the rear bumper and the custom bed. The guys opted against running with a traditional wood floor and stuck to a streamlined appearance with a subdued monotone approach. A similar look has also overtaken the engine compartment with a smoothed façade complete with a killer engine cover to top it all off. PPG Atomic Silver seems like the only color that could enhance the style Dustin and the guys were going for. “I was trying to make the truck seem as modern as possible,” he says about the some of the choices that were made during the mock-up process. “I was inspired to come up with and run with new, different ideas.”

A major portion of Dustin’s running with different ideas comes in the form of the ’57’s interior. Looking at it on its own, you’d think it was the cockpit of some futuristic interplanetary cruising machine, which it is, kind of—without the whole driving through the solar system part. Dustin collaborated with Darren at HRH Designs to cook up an interior space that was plush and innovative yet ultra-compatible with the Chevy’s minimalistic exterior styling. The custom seats, console and dashboard are the highlights within the cab, as is the deep red leather that was selected to cover the seats and other surfaces that weren’t carpeted or painted. The rich red interior seems to be at the direct opposite end of the color palette when compared to the temperature of the silver paint, but maybe that’s why they complement each other so well.

As Dustin has attained his dream of owning and operating his own multi-faceted custom shop, he’s now in a better position to help his customers reach their own personal goals as well. With the in-house capabilities to complete a full build from the ground up, NHR flexes its custom muscles by offering skilled chassis and suspension system fabrication, sheet-metal fab and incredible interior and paint work. There are very few shops out there that can boast being at the top of their game across the board in all categories of customization. The vehicle that is brought to the shop need not be exotic or rare to receive Dustin’s undivided attention. With the right vision and an appreciation for design aesthetics that focus on timeless styling with an emphasis on modernization, NHR can bring any car-crazed individual’s dream to life.

As for the Atomic ’57 here, it will soon be hitting the show circuit as it takes a much-deserved victory lap. It’s certain to make a huge impact on those searching for inspiration to jumpstart their own custom projects.

There’s so much to say about the Atomic ’57’s engine bay. Start with the custom air intake cover, complete with pinstriping and the truck’s moniker stamped out on the side. from there, let your eyes may wander where they will.

HRH Designs smashed another homerun with this interior. The monotone red upholstery, carpeting, headliner and accessories scream custom and represent top-shelf styling.

Build Specs
Dustin Hacker
1957 Chevy Pickup
Henderson, NV

The undercarriage of this Chevy features a full TCI frame and all of the premium fixings.

Engine
2014 GM LS3
535 hp, 515 lbs-ft torque
2014 B&M 4l80e auto transmission
B&M 3000 stall converter
Aluminum driveshaft
March Performance serpentine setup and TrueTrac drive accessory
Custom stainless headers
2.5-inch stainless exhaust piping
Custom handmade air cleaner
Black Widow mufflers
Billet valve covers
Custom hard line hoses
American Auto wiring

Body & Paint
Shop: Nostalgia Hot Rods
PPG Atomic Silver with Yes Red pinstriping
Custom hood, front and rear bumpers and taillights
Custom bed with filler relocation
One-piece windows
LED headlights

Chassis & Suspension
Shop: Dustin of Nostalgia Hot Rods
TCI full-custom frame
Mustang II front end
2-inch drop spindles
TCI control arms
Ride Tech Shockwave airbags
Rear 4-link setup
9-inch rearend
Wilwood front and rear brakes and master cylinder
Tuff Stuff 8-inch booster

Wheels & Tires
20×9 and 22×13 Budnik Gasser wheels
255/30R20 and 335/30R22 Continental tires

Interior & Stereo
Shop: HRH Designs
Leather upholstery on custom bucket seats
Custom center console, door panels and headliner
Hand-woven custom carpet
One-off dash
Dakota Digital gauges
Budnik steering wheel
19mm push-button switches
Vintage Air AC
iPad used as head unit
MB Quartz speakers, 10-inch subwoofer and five-channel, 1,000-watt amp
Hushmat sound deadener
American Auto wiring
Optima battery

Special Thanks From the Owner: “Thank you to the whole team at Nostalgia Hot Rods for all the hard work and amazing finished product.”