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The Art of Vintage Truck Indulgence

“Growing up as a kid was tough because I came from the wrong side of the tracks,” Chris Burgess, owner of this slick ’52 GMC pickup, told us. “I basically had nothing, and I learned at an early age that to get anywhere in life, you have to work hard. So I did.” This isn’t some kind of lead up to a story about a guy who has had the same vision of the same truck stuck in his head since childhood. Chris has never owned a custom anything until this point in his life (he’s currently 43), but he’s always appreciated the looks of older customized pickups. 

As a young man, after being discharged from the military, Chris drove a truck for a living. He wasn’t a stranger to putting in a full day’s work, and he has since done very well for himself riding the roads between coasts. The idea of buying or building a truck hadn’t been in the stars for him in the past because he was on the road a lot. He never really had a burning desire to chase a build until one random day that ended up taking his life in a different direction. “I was hauling a load through Kansas, and I spotted a Model A two-door sedan with faded ugly brown paint and black wheels and fenders. I instantly fell in love with the vision of this look on an old pickup. I’d never owned a custom vehicle before, but at that point, I was able to imagine myself driving a truck that could look like that.” 

After that first encounter, Chris went about his daily routine. Quick flashes of rolling around in a cool truck would surface in his thoughts, and then scurry to the back of his mind. More and more, though, he found himself daydreaming about what was becoming an obsession, and since he had a few informal connections on social media who could clue him in to how full blown car projects work, he figured he’d hit them up when he had some free time. “I was following this guy Jeff Davy from Devious Customs on Facebook and Instagram who was always posting photos of all the crazy cars and trucks he was piecing together. His shop was near my home in Riverside, so I messaged him one day and asked him a few questions about his operation.” 

The two chatted for an hour and started bouncing ideas off each other about timelines and ideas relating to starting a project—if and when Chris actually locked down a truck. “At this point, I was all talk I guess since I didn’t even own a truck for them to work on, but I was convinced that Jeff and his team would be able to build the truck I had described. We hit it off, shared similar tastes in cars and had a good hour-long conversation that first time we talked. The very next day, I went to Devious Customs and put down a $1,000 deposit to get onto Jeff’s schedule calendar. I may have been jumping the gun a bit, but I did have a lead on a pickup that I was sure I could grab.” Just like that, Chris was on the board at the shop. He told Jeff all about the truck he spotted for sale not too far away. The next day, the two-headed out with a trailer to see what was what. “Jeff picked me up in the morning the next day, and mind you, we had only known each other for two days at this point, but he was excited about my excitement I guess.” 

Even the bed floor has been given the same dark treatment as the rest of the truck.

The two traveled through the winding back roads of the Temecula wine groves to where the truck was stored. The previous owner was there to show the ’52 GMC to potential buyers. “There had been a substantial amount of work done to the truck already and a lot of parts that would come with it too,” Chris says of that first day looking at his future project truck. There was some back and forth between the two parties, but Chris was ready to close the deal and take the truck back to the shop so Jeff and crew could get to work on it. The guys cooked up a plan of action on the way back to Devious HQ, and the truck was left at the shop for the duration of the rehab process. 

Wild Bill of Riverside, California, added gold leaf touches that set off the GMC’s dark attire.

Jeff has years of experience in the one-off design and build game, and in that time, he has cooked up some memorable rides, which is why Chris was so eager to involve Jeff in his first custom project. “Like always, we try to make each of our custom truck builds unique …” Jeff says. “You know as well as I do that we do our best to do something different to give us an edge in the sea of custom trucks out there in the show scene.” To give Chris’ GMC the advantage it would need to do that, Jeff wanted to run with the initial ideas inspired in Chris when he saw that Model A on the road months back. To push the truck past a lot of its competition right off the bat, the crew planned for a complete frame-off build. Jeff adds, “We wanted to powder coat the chassis, paint as many components as possible and make sure that the truck not only looked great but that it could be driven daily as well.” 

The new Chevy 383 stroker motor fits in nicely underneath the hood.

The Devious Customs crew spent a total of one year whipping the truck into shape. Once the guys had a rendering of the truck mocked-up, they had some of the best aftermarket manufacturers in the business champing at the bit to join the build as sponsors. Edelbrock played a huge part in hopping up the brand-new Chevy 383 stroker engine, Rocket Racing was looking forward to seeing its Booster series wheels worked into the build, and House of Kolor just knew its hues would give Chris the exact colors he’d want to see his truck wearing. “Some of my personal favorite parts of the build were the modified 1965 C-10 front bumper and dash work,” Jeff notes about the finished product. “Most people might not notice it, but we shortened the glove box to … install AC vents that are equally spaced on the dash. Of course, the gold ice pearl over the brown paint really makes this truck what it is with all of the black accessories.” 

The Accuair e-Level controller and A/C control has been neatly stashed away from plain sight inside the shortened glove box.

As for Chris, he really couldn’t be happier with the outcome. He’s even gone so far as to incorporate his favorite movie into his first custom build, which further personalizes it. “I’ve named the truck Sexual Chocolate after my favorite movie, ‘Coming to America,’ not just because it’s the same color as chocolate. I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan, and if you don’t already know, he plays 10 or 11 different characters in that movie. One was named Randy Watson, and he sings with the band called Sexual Chocolate. My license plate also reads RWATSON. I don’t know if anyone else would’ve put that together, but there it is.” 

CT Sounds speakers and amps have been put on grand display behind the rear seats thanks to a collaboration between Define Concepts and Radi’s Custom Upholstery.

Chris may not have realized just how amazing it would be to own a fully customized truck like the one he has now, but he’s loving every aspect of it. “I can take this truck anywhere and it’s a huge crowd-pleaser and a great conversation piece. I love the attention it gets, not only from truck people, but the everyday Joes as well. Hope to see you all at the next big show!” 

Twenty-inch Rocket Racing Wheels reside at all corners of the truck and have been custom-coated to blend in with the overall color scheme.

Truck Specs
Owner : Chris and America Burgess
1952 GMC Pickup
Riverside, CA

Work Performed by Matt Burns, Riverside, CA
383 V-8 Chevy stroker
Chino Hills Transmission 700r4 transmission
Inland Driveshaft custom two-piece driveshaft
Edelbrock rods and pistons, heads, valves and covers, intake manifold and 650 carb
High-volume oil pump
Electric cooling fan
High-output one-wire alternator
Custom aluminum radiator
March pulleys
Painless wiring
Engine painted chocolate brown with gold ice pearl
Taylor Vertex Magnetos ignition
Gibson 3-inch exhaust and muffler 

Chassis & Suspension
Shop: Devious Customs, Riverside, CA
Front drop spindles
Total Cost Involved front-end system
Mustang II setup with rack-and-pinion steering
ididit steering column
Total Cost Involved rear ladder-bar 4-link
Rear of frame step notched
Firestone ’bags all around
Bilstein shocks
Jeep Cherokee rearend
22-gallon fuel tank
Kinetik battery located under bed
Entire chassis powder-coated by Ludikris Fabrication 

Wheels & Tires
20×8 and 20×10 Rocket Racing wheels Booster Series, custom black finish
255/30R20 and 245/40R20 Nitto tires 

Paint & Body
Shop: Bodywork by Devious Customs
Custom-mixed House of Kolor Brown with Gold Ice pearl painted by Robert Currel in Los Angeles
Gold leafing by Wild Bill of Riverside
Stock grille shell and insert
Front custom 1963 C-10 bumper
Grant Kustoms rear roll pan
Shaved door handles, taillights, fresh air vent
Hidden tailgate latches
Smooth LED lights by AVS in roll pan
Removed rain gutters
Custom wink mirrors
One-piece window glass
Custom Harley-Davidson gas cap in bed 

Interior & Stereo
Shop: Radi’s Custom Upholstery in Garden Grove, CA
Black- and tan-colored upholstery material
Glide Engineering seats
Custom suede headliner
Dashboard shaved and painted
Shortened glove box
Custom A/C vents on dash
Dakota Digital gauges
Colorado Customs steering wheel
Lokar handles
Power windows
Old Air A/C system
Hidden gun safe
Shop: Define Concepts, La Habra, CA
JVC double-DIN head unit
CT Sounds amp and speakers
Kick panels behind seats 

Special Thanks From the Owner: “I can’t thank everyone enough, but thank you to my best friend/wife America Burgess and my daughter Andrea Burgess, my family and my new friends Jeff and Shannon Davy. This truck has brought me in touch with some great people and for that I am thankful.”