Decade-Long 1960 Chevy Truck Restoration
Max Cross says he was raised to take apart cars. Spending time as a child alongside his father at Cross Auto Salvage, he quickly developed a love for repairing and restoring cars. But the owner of Cross Auto Body in Valley Center, Kan., developed a special affinity for the 1960 Chevy truck. By the 1980s, he finally had the opportunity to buy and restore one. The truck earned National Class Champion at the 1987 International Car Show Association.
Unfortunately, Cross was forced to sell his beloved car when he needed some quick cash to make ends meet. Always wanting another, he kept his eye out for a replacement. In 1995, he persuaded a friend to part with his ’60 Chevy truck. “I traded a paint job for the truck,” Cross laughs. “I figure I gave him a $1,800 paint job on one of his pickups!”
Over the next eight years, Cross spent $40,000 restoring the car. Today the 2006 and 2008 Darryl Starbird Rod and Custom Show National Champion keeps receiving accolades, shining both on and off the showroom floor.
IN SEARCH OF PARTS
The truck was in fairly decent condition when Cross began the restoration. Though it sported a lot of surface rust, the bed was in good shape. He spent nights and weekends working on the car, as well as during downtime at the shop.
The project’s biggest challenge was building a rotisserie that would help him weld the truck’s cab. “I’m not good at welding upside down,” Cross explains. With some help from folks at the shop, he designed the rotisserie, which allowed him to easily turn the truck and weld from beneath it.
Finding parts was also tough. “It took me five years to get a rust-free hood and doors,” he says. “Those old trucks had a problem with rusting out. The hood and doors I found were from two separate grain trucks.” Since the trucks are typically only driven during the summer months, Cross was patient for the parts to come along. He also relied on a friend who sold antique Chevy truck parts as a helpful resource.
Cross got creative when it came to replacing the truck’s mechanical parts. He bought a wrecked Tulsa City, Okla., police car—a 1994 Caprice—for $2,800 that was equipped with a LT1 V8 engine and a 4L60E transmission. “I used the engine, transmission and drive shaft out of the police car,” he says.
THE 4,000-HOUR CAR
During the several year restoration, Cross made sure to take a few breathers. “You get burned out,” he says of the long hours. During the breaks, he’d focus on picking up extra jobs at the shop to help earn more money for the parts he needed. In total, he estimates that he spent 4,000 hours on the truck.
Eventually, he put in new doors, fenders and hood. He also installed airbag suspension, Dakota digital gauges, No Limit fuel tank, braided stainless fuel lines, polished stainless brake lines, air-conditioning and a Sony CD stereo. He kept the original sheet metal and cab on the truck. The only work he hired out was the interior—to the tune of $8,000 for tan leather.
He says the best part of the restoration was the paint process. “I’ve been a painter all my life, and that was probably the most fun part.” Though the truck was originally blue, Cross painted it a different hue called Chevrolet Victory Red. “The red and tan interior look real good,” he says.
THIS TIME FOR KEEPS
After eight years, Cross was relieved to finally finish the project. “It’s one of those things you don’t think you’re ever going to finish,” he says. “But I’m one of those guys, that if I start something I’m going to finish it.”
The painstaking hours were worth it. Folks love the Chevy. “I get a lot of thumbs up, and lots of heads turn,” Cross says. “You just don’t see that model of truck.”
And this time around, he doesn’t ever plan on parting with his beloved pickup: “I’m keeping this one!”