A Pair of Consummate Professionals Create a Masterpiece
Sam Redding from Orlando, Florida, has been in the truck scene for almost a quarter century. He joined Local Minis way back in 1997 and is currently a member of Negative Camber. Over the years, he’s built, bought and sold many vehicles, often running them across the block at Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. Always happy with the outcome, Sam realized he might have some career potential there and decided to explore the idea of building a cool custom truck specifically for one of the largest auctions in the US. Incorporating street rod-level craftsmanship into the build would improve the chances for financial success.
Realizing that two heads are better than one, Sam contacted his good friend Alvin Lawrence, owner of Autofanatik in Sanford, Florida, and pitched the idea. Alvin has been building radical custom vehicles since 1995 and, like Sam, has had his work featured in numerous magazines. It didn’t take too long for both men to realize the idea’s potential and a partnership was quickly formed.
With decades of experience between them, the two decided their first custom vehicle would be an early Chevy 3100 series pickup. Those vintage trucks are easy to lower to the ground and, with the right touches, make great traditional customs that appeal to a wide audience.
The first step was to fabricate a frame designed around original Chevrolet factory dimensions but incorporating all the latest technology. With Alvin in charge of the rolling chassis, the project began with 2×4 boxed steel rails and 2.5-inch round tube cross members.
In the rear, a shop-fabricated four-link holds a Ford 9-inch, narrowed to 35 inches and fitted with 3.73 gears. Slotted between the rear frame rails is a handmade aluminum fuel cell that holds 14 gallons. The frontend uses Mustang II geometry with 2-inch drop spindles and Flaming River power steering. Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners ensure modern stopping power while the four Firestone 2500 bags easily drop the truck into the weeds. A pair of Viair 450 compressors activate SMC valves through 3/8-inch lines for effortless, push button altitude control. The chassis became a roller thanks to big 22-inch Raceline Billet rims, 8 inches wide up front and 14-inch wide steamrollers in the rear. Yokohama 30- and 40-series rubber creates the perfect contact patch, giving the truck autocross-level handling and planting the power from the big mill that would soon find its way between the frame rails.
Since the burble of a high-performance V-8 is an essential component of any driving experience, the team decided that the Chevy truck would benefit from strong Chevy motivation. A modern 6.2 LS V-8 crate motor along with a six-speed 6L90E automatic was the perfect solution. Kept stock for reliability, the motor produces more than enough power to set you back in your seat while broadcasting a delightful auditory rumble whenever you hit the long skinny pedal! The smooth firewall, painted engine compartment and custom cold air kit help to showcase the new V-8.
Once everything was mocked in place, disassembly of the entire truck allowed Alvin to complete work on the frame and powertrain while Sam went to work on a rust-free ’54 Chevy 3100 5-Window body found locally in Orlando. After smoothing the vintage sheet metal, Sam added an LMC one-piece hood, a new chrome grille and a smooth front pan along with new LMC bed sides and tailgate. The rear fenders had to be cut and stretched 4 inches in order to accommodate the huge 22×14 rear tire and wheel combination.
Since the bed on this custom show truck would never be called upon to haul a load of gravel, Sam decided to showcase Alvin’s innovative rear suspension with several unique cutouts that put the truck’s elegant engineering on display. Accented with carefully shaped pieces of stained and epoxied White Pine, the segmented bed gives spectators an unexpectedly good view of the aluminum fuel cell, the air bag suspension, black powdercoated rearend and the distinctive Cherry Red frame rails. Equally impressive are the hand formed, radiused inner fenders, smooth tailgate and Bow Tie on the forward cab wall. Sam brought all the modifications together, spraying the truck’s exterior with House of Kolor Flat Silver.
The final step in the project was the interior. When this ride was new back in the 1950s, comfort and convenience technology was rudimentary, but tastes have changed considerably over the years. Sam began by spraying the dash and window frames with the same color red used on the frame. Although the gauges reside in the original holes, modern Dakota Digital instruments now monitor under hood activity while the Flaming River tilt column holds a Billet Specialties wheel. Diamond stitched red leather upholstery covers the stock bench seat. Motor music from the big rumbling V-8 takes the place of stereo and Vintage Air ensures comfort for driver and passenger during Florida’s hot summers.
An 18-month build, the completed truck is a hoot to drive and captured a Top 25 in its first outing at the Street Trucks Season Opener at the Don Garlitz Museum, the site of our photo shoot. Both Sam and Alvin will be making final adjustments prior to the truck crossing the auction block, confident that their latest creation will be the start of something big.
Sam Redding, Gold Coast
Alvin Lawrence, Autofanatik Sanford, Florida
’54 Chevy 3100 5-Window
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
- 6.2 LS V-8 crate motor and six-speed 6L90E automatic, producing 425 hp
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
- Shop: Alvin at Autofanatik
- 2×4 boxed steel rails
- Mustang II frontend with 2-inch drop spindles
- Flaming River power steering
- Four-link rear that holds a narrowed Ford 9-inch with 3.73 gears
- 14-gallon tank
- Wilwood disc brakes
- Firestone 2500 bags
- Two Viair 450 compressors
WHEELS & TIRES
- 22×8 and 22×14 Raceline Billet rims
- Yokohama 245/30/22 and 305/40/22
EXTERIOR & PAINT
- Shop: Sam at Gold Coast Boat Works
- One-piece LMC hood, bed sides, tailgate and smooth front pan
- Rear fenders were stretched 4 inches
- Radiused inner fenders added
- Bed cutouts were accented with individual segments of stained White Pine with a Bow Tie on the forward cab wall
- House of Kolor Flat Silver covers the exterior
INTERIOR & STEREO
- Red painted dash
- Dakota Digital gauges
- Flaming River tilt column
- Billet Specialties wheel
- Vintage Air
- Diamond-stitched red leather upholstery on the stock bench seat