Tractor Traded Trophy Truck

    Steve and Lynne Hatley from Albemarle, North Carolina own this modified ’57 Chevy pickup and share a passion for cool custom trucks. Lynne works in a bank but has always loved vintage rides. Steve is a maintenance mechanic and is naturally talented when it comes to building trophy-winning rides. The story of this build begins with an unusual twist that involves a John Deere tractor! When Steve and Lynne bought their land and built their home, Steve decided that owning a new tractor was more important than his ’66 Chevrolet truck, trading one for the other. The tractor certainly helped in maintaining their acreage but Lynne felt bad about  Steve losing his truck. She knew of a 1957 Chevrolet truck at a local repair shop that was waiting for the current owner to begin the restoration process. Fortunately, the owner’s plans changed and she was able to buy the truck. After paying the bill, she asked the man to drive it to their home. When Steve arrived, he asked who owned that truck out front and Lynne filled him in on the good news. It was the beginning of a joint customizing effort accomplished over a period of almost 10 years.

    The primered truck had some mods but it needed lots of work. Steve has been involved with vehicles all his life and began the personalizing process with the chassis. He boxed the frame and fabricated a new ladder bar rear suspension that would accommodate wide rear tires and hold the 3-inch narrowed Ford 9-inch. It’s equipped with Strange 31-spline axles, 3.89 gears, coilovers, and upgraded drum brakes. The-16 gallon fuel cell in the rear was raised for clearance. Up front, Mustang II suspension with disk brakes, coilovers, and rack and pinion power steering ensured a modern handling response. The chassis rolls on a combination of 15-inch Weld Racing wheels, 7-inches wide up front and 15-inches wide in the rear, wrapped in Mickey Thompson Sportsman rubber.

    Motive power was next and Steve chose a 383-stroker motor, tweaked for maximum performance buy Hollis Page, HP Engines in Norwood, North Carolina. Internals include a balanced rotating assembly, Comp Cam, and aluminum heads. Guaranteeing a no nonsense look as well as enough power to roll the change out of your pockets, the V-8 uses a Tunnel Ram manifold and a pair of Edelbrock 600cfm carbs to provide the fuel/air mix. MSD electronic ignition and Blaster coil light the fire while Hooker Block Hugger headers dump spent gasses into a 2.5 inch exhaust system, fitted with twin Flowmaster mufflers and side-exiting tips. Currently, the painted-to-match nitrous bottle in the bed is just for show but Steve plans to hook it up soon. Dave Thomas from Albemarle, NC reworked the Turbo 350 trans, programming in a 2800 rpm stall speed and adding the B&M shifter.

    The truck body was not in good shape but Steve was able to rework the original cab. Aftermarket doors, bed, and fenders were a better choice than trying to salvage the worn originals. The new pan with billet tail lights and a custom tailgate skin sanitized the rear while diamond plate covers the bed floor and the tubs fabricated for the fat tires. The smooth front end is fairly stock with an aftermarket grille, re chromed front bumper, and Tri-Bar headlights. Powered one-piece side glass and 3-inch Peep mirrors modernized both doors. 

    Moving inside, interior upgrades began with a pair of buckets from an S-10 Blazer with the head rests removed. Lane Lowder from Lowder’s Auto Upholstery in New London, North Carolina stitched the two-tone grey leather. Their friend, Gina Slack embroidered the orange and blue Chevy Bowtie emblems in the seats and door panels. Steve’s new center console holds the power window controls, B&M Pistol Grip shifter, Pioneer stereo, and the pair of 6 x 9 speakers. He modified the dash to hold the Dakota Digital instrument package in a custom chrome bezel, augmented by a huge Auto Meter tach and shift light. A Flaming River tilt column and wheel provide a positive connection while the Southern Air A/C keeps Steve and Lynne cool during warm Carolina Summers. 

    The final step in the process was color. Bobby Burris in Albemarle, North Carolina prepped the body and sprayed the PPG Candy Tangerine with Orange Pearl on top and PPG Jett Black on the bottom. A PPG Royal Blue Pearl band separates the two. The completed truck has been great fun to drive for the last several years with Steve and Lynne always enjoying the people they meet on the show circuit.

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