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Reviving a 1970 Chevy Pickup

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Classic cars often become prized possessions, but, as Chuck Anderson puts it, sometimes you inadvertently end up with a real clunker.

Two years ago, Anderson’s father-in-law, Tommy Wright, brought a 1970 Chevy pickup truck he had acquired to Anderson’s shop, Precision Body Works in Richmond, Va., for some minor paintwork. That’s when disaster struck.

“We got it in the shop and started sanding it and it was the most horrific thing we’ve ever seen,” says Anderson. “It’s really sad but it happens a lot.”

The damage was enormous: The frame had been cut in half and welded back together with a different type of frame; the cab of the truck had been cut off and halfway welded back on; and the roof was filled with Bondo.

Wright was understandably upset and ditched the truck altogether. Anderson and his business partner, Benny Mahoney, found another 1970 Chevy truck, paid $1,200 for it, and dragged it back to the shop to restore and co-own with Wright.

Anderson started by pulling the whole truck apart. He pulled the frame out, cleaned it, and sandblasted it. Then he installed a complete air-ride system to raise and lower the truck. Next he took the tailgate and welded it solid, so it’s one complete box. Wright bent trailer fenders for the bed of the truck, which was painted to look like a wooden floor. Anderson also made a custom grill, redid the bumpers and created custom exhaust tips that run outside the bed.

SECOND TIME AROUND: Chris Anderson churned out a beauty in his second attempt at restoring a 1970 pickup. Images courtesy Chuck Anderson

He also moved the gas tank to the bed of the truck and in the hole left by the fuel door, he welded in a piece of exhaust pipe and installed an electric antenna. Now when the radio is turned on, the antenna comes up out of the hole.

Anderson says the most unique aspect of the car is the handmade metal dash, which they created because Anderson didn’t like the original dash. He had an idea of the shape he wanted, so Wright went home to bend the metal, but came up an inch too short. Even though Anderson offered to just weld it in, Wright insisted he could do it and the next day brought back a piece that fit perfectly. His secret? He bent it over a 15-inch tire after trying a 14-inch tire first.

“This is probably a $70,000 truck, and when you tell people that’s how you made the dash—you bent it over a tire—they can hardly believe it,” Anderson says. “It’s old school.”

They took the leftover pieces from the bed of the truck and made a console for the car. The seats are covered in a burgundy and black leather with a kimono-style, dragon-themed print, and the rest of the interior, including the dash, roof, carpet, and door panels, was painted to match.

Wright selected a burgundy and silver color scheme for the exterior, and the painters at Precision Body Works custom made a three-stage candy pearl color with a custom airbrushed Buick stripe, and three-stage silver inset.

The truck was finished in a year, and, while Anderson has shown the car five times (racking up awards everywhere he’s taken it), he says the most memorable part of the experience was working on the car with his father-in-law, who has often helped Anderson with his own classic cars in the past.

“The neat thing about the story is that he’s one of those guys that doesn’t want anybody to have to do anything for him,” Anderson says. “It was cool to do something for him for a change.’”


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