The Unicorn | 1951 Chevrolet Crew Cab Custom

Have you ever seen a unicorn? Webster’s Dictionary defines a unicorn as a mythical animal typically represented as a horse, or something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain. While this 1951 Chevrolet pickup is not a horse-like creature, it definitely fits the highly desirable and difficult to find category—and perhaps in the difficult to create category, too.

When Joseph and Jennifer Thomas of Manito, Illinois, started this 1951 Chevy build, it was headed down a slightly different path. That is, until the Thomas’s found out they had twins on the way. Multiple kids mean multiple rows of seats… and that is how the crew cab officially began.


At the beginning there was no crew cab, just a front stub. At that point, Joseph began to start the work to stretch the frame to fit what would one day be the crew cab. We thought about explaining all of that, piece by piece; but for the sake of keeping it short and sweet, we will simply tell you it is a ton of work. Luckily, Joseph and the crew at Pekin Alignment & Autobody Inc. have plenty of experience in pretty much every area of metal and body working the world can throw at them.

Next up came the C-notch and rear triangulated four-link setup to maximize laying that one-of-a-kind truck completely and evenly onto the ground. With a healthy 9-inch rear end set into place, they began the air ride install. Using a full set up from Air Ride Technologies, the cool ride suspension was mocked up for not only perfecting the ’51’s layout capabilities, but also for riding in comfort.

After all that, there was still plenty to do. The crew began work on the rear of the unicorn itself, the crew cab’s one of a kind floor.

Being able to create this amazing truck with his wife, father, and a shop full of friends that happen to also work for him is one of the best things Joseph could have asked for when building this truck.

“We built the actual crew cab on the original frame, and then sectioned it 3 inches,” Thomas says. “In addition to that, we pancaked the hood 3 inches, and then swapped the crew cab onto its new frame …”



Once fabrication was complete, the bodywork came next. The classic, yet all new Chevrolet was fully disassembled and put on the rotisserie for paint. At that point, it was time to do the bodywork and paint on the frame. Once the frame was reassembled, all the remaining parts and body were given the beautiful paint job you see before you today.

After the new glass was installed, all that was left for the family-ready truck was interior. Using seats from a Lexus IS300, comfort as well as a unique look was considered for the interior as it came together. Wrapped in a perfect choice of leather, the seats looked right at home in the newly completed crew cab. Throw in the Omega Custom gauges, a custom headliner and unique center console, and the rest is history that can be told in these photos as well as in person if you are lucky enough to come across it at a show near you.


Being able to create this amazing truck with his wife, father, and a shop full of friends that happen to also work for him is one of the best things Joseph could have asked for when building this truck. Thomas wanted to take a second to give a special thanks to his wife for letting him build her dream truck.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of our shop crew and a huge thanks to my dad, Randy Thomas, for helping me all along the way,” Joseph says.ST



Joseph & Jennifer Thomas

1951 Chevrolet Custom Crew Cab Pickup
Manito, Illinois
Estimated Cost: $70k before labor
Reason for building: During the build process, they found out they were having twins and would need additional room in the truck.


Hagen Frenched Headlights
1978 Buick front stub w/ stock frame
Boxed rear rails
Tubular cross members
7-inch C-notch
20-gallon fuel cell
Front Suspension:
Brembo CTSV front brake calipers and rotors
Air Ride Technologies cool ride suspension
Tubular BMR lower control arms
SPC adjustable upper control arms

Rear Suspensio

Speedway 12.88 rear brakes
Air Ride Technologies cool ride suspension
Custom rear triangulated four-link


1974 Chevrolet 468 V-8
11/1 compression ratio
Balanced and blueprinted
Steel crank
Comp cams
Ford valve guide, screw in studs, and stainless valves
Custom engine mounts
Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap intake manifold
Holley Double Pumper 650 Carburetor