Gleamin 1950 Chevy Truck

June 1, 2009
1950 Chevy truck gleams after 15-month restoration.

Buying a 1950 Chevy truck was the last thing on Franklin Machicek’s mind as he admired some old trucks a friend was restoring. “I didn’t have any intentions of buying a truck at all,” says the owner of Frankie’s Paint and Body in Point Comfort, Texas. But the self-described car-crazy shop owner couldn’t resist. On impulse, he bought one for $750. His plan quickly evolved into restoring the vehicle for his wife, Dana—although he admits she probably would have preferred a different car as a gift. “I don’t think she wanted a truck, but I said, ‘I’m going to buy that truck!’” laughs Machicek.

After purchasing the truck in spring 2006, Machicek spent the next 15 months on its restoration. He affectionately named the car “Billie Jean” in honor of his mother-in-law, who passed away shortly before the restoration was complete. The finished product would have made her proud, Machicek says. In fact, the classy truck now wins top honors at car shows and receives plenty of thumbs-ups from admirers.

HARD AT WORK

As Machicek started restoring the truck, he soon realized it was going to take a lot of work. “The bottoms of the doors were rotted out,” he says. “I stripped it all down [and with some help from a few guys at the shop], cut the panels off where they were totally gone and replaced the aluminum metal.” He also built a custom bumper for the truck when the old one didn’t fit, fitting together a front and back bumper from another truck.

Things went smoothly until Machicek had to modify the hood—after it had been painted. “That’s the whole part that gets disgusting,” he says. “You have to go back and cut it and start over.” Adjusting the steering also posed a problem. “We put an AMC Pacer front suspension under the front end, and we had it welded in and marked the frame where the front wheels should be,” Machicek says. “But when we put the truck together, it was too far back. [That] set us back a couple days.”

He took the setbacks in stride. “I know how [these cars] are. I don’t get frustrated.” Establishing realistic goals for different stages of the restoration helped. “When you’re doing a car like this, you can accomplish something every day.”

One task that was easy: choosing the color for the truck. Machicek’s wife, Dana, had decided to dedicate the truck to her mother, who had silver hair. The hue seemed a fitting tribute. Dana’s mom followed the progress of the restoration during her final few months of life, though, sadly, she never got to see “her” silver truck fully restored.

EYE CATCHER

On the day that Machicek finally turned the key in the ignition of the completed, gleaming silver truck, he savored the moment. “It felt real good just to take a ride in it,” he says. The awards that followed felt good, too. In 2007, the truck competed in four different shows, earning Best in Show and Best Interior. “We win first place pretty much everywhere we go,” Machicek says.

The truck draws plenty of admirers. “Someone’s always giving a thumbs-up to it,” he says. “The truck was nice and sweet after it was all finished. I think [my mother-in-law] would have loved it.” In fact, Machicek is certain she would have given it her own thumbs up.

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