Blister in the sun
With this project Don Gasiunas wanted to go the roots of hot rodding with something scuffed and tough looking while at the same time, still meet his “Must have” mandate of precision engineering as a means to a fun driving experience. How about a Rat Rod exterior with a high tech running gear underneath?
After some weeks of research, Don came upon a one of one custom built 1950 Chevy pick up with the most unique patina finish he has ever seen. Unlike the contrive finishes so often seen at the shows, this old bone had genuinely blistered for years under the New Mexico sun.
The truck had once belonged to Bayless Excavating & Demolition of New Mexico and their logo still appears as a ghost sign on both doors.The model 3100 has left the factory painted in Hunter Green and later covered in terra cotta primer, followed by the Bayless’ company colour of cream. After loyal service to the company the work weary Chevy was left for dead in the New Mexico desert.
The metal was well preserved in the dry climate, but years under the scorching sun naturally caused a feathered patchwork of all highly complimentary colours to show through.
For Don it was the love at first sight. As is so often the case with the latered state of being in love, he missed a few things that normal practice of due diligence would otherwise have caught. If ever there was an ad that should have had the disclaimer “not exactly as shown”, this was it. “not even close was more to the point with regards to the quality of the mods.
But the saving element was the amazing natural distressed finish. So Don carefully lifted the body off the frame and started all over with his own custom designed running gear, suspension and interior.
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He started with a new, boxed frame custom made to accept air ride. He installed four-link turbulator A-arms up front and a solid handling 4-link suspension out back.
Next, an AccuAir suspension system was installed complete with console controls and full remote control by wireless iPhone. The system also features 7” Firestone air springs, all installed by Kevin Crowhurst and Kyle Hazel of Air Assisted Systems in Scarborough, ON.
The truck has disc brakes all around for reliable breaking. For a more period perfect hot rod look, Gasiunas replaced the Foose 18” wheels with 15’’x6’’ fronts and 15’’x 8’’ rear chrome reverse wheels fitted with extra wide Coker white walls for really cool nostalgia.
Don wanted a solid new power plant but not one that would twist the truck apart. When developing the specs, in a one-thing-leads-to-another process, the engine ended up with horsepower north of 450… about 100 more than initially planned on. But who’s gonna complain, right?
The interior was also redone with full custom interior featuring newly upholstered original seats, door panels, new carpet, Dynamat, and leather shifter boot. Colours and textures were carefully selected to match the exterior and time period. The trick was completely rewired by Chris Brown.
The ’50 Chavy also features LED lighting throughout with classic style gauges. For added safety and reliability, Gasiunas has Peter King install a brand new braking system as well as a new fuel system and a host of other refinements for up to date reliability, handling and safety.
Don’s frequent collaborator Ron Baran did quite a bit of fabrication to accommodate the custom mods including a tilt tonneau cover for access to the new rear fuel cell and suspension components.
AS a final touch, Gasiunas’ nephew Paul of Pauli Graphics created the distressed license plate that reads “RUSTORED” in matching elements.
Judging by the wild attention this truck got both at shows and on the street, once again, Don Gasiunas seems to have created something unique that resonates powerfully with fans.