“So are you going to paint it?” Don Gasiunas has a simple response while standing in front of his 1949 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup “No. Anyone can buy or build a shiny car, I wanted something unique that would stand out of the crowd”. Don’s fascination with design and building sprouted in his early days as an aircraft maintenance engineer, constantly tinkering with components doing repairs and fabrication.
Fast-forward several years and his first automotive creation, a 1967 Mustang “Eleanor” clone, was sold to famed rock star Jon Bonjovi. “I wanted that car” says Don. “Gone in 60 Seconds came out in 2000 and I had mine done in 2003, with the amount of publicity around the car after I sold it I built another one and another one, I had to keep raising the bar”. Don’s reputation in the builder world reflects the incredible amount of time, passion, and innovation he puts into every project. This Chevy build came about after a trying experience building his last custom Mustang named “Edna”. “Everything was a fight. I decided this would be my last build, I didn’t want to build any more cars”.
Five years later a patina-covered truck caught Don’s eye while watching television, he saw the “cool” factor and decided to investigate what the fuss was all about, hence then started his own project to reignite his passion for building.
After months of research Don found his donor truck, “I was browsing through eBay one Sunday morning and this one just popped, something told me it would work”. After digging through the history the 1949 Chevy turned out to have the same owner since new and was unrestored and all original. Years of patina had accumulated on the once perfect body after sitting outside on a farm in St. Louis being used to move around corn and hay wagons. Once the deal went through Don went to work on transforming the one of a kind patina truck into a modern day cruiser, dropping in a 5.3L LS V8, all new air ride suspension, Willwood brakes, 700R 4 speed automatic transmission, power steering, brand new interior and several other safety components. Every nut and bolt on the truck has been replaced.
The original frame was sandblasted and reinforced to modern day standards to keep some of the core DNA in the historic truck. Humbly named “1 out of 10”, referring to the visual appearance of the truck, the results speak for themselves. In a sea of modern day exotics and sports cars Don’s creation consistently captures the attention and intrigue of enthusiasts young and old. “Every time I look at the truck I find something new, I love it” says Don “People consistently walk past the new shiny stuff to take a look at it, it’s modern technology with yesterdays look”.
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After being bit by the patina bug Don is onto his next creation, a 1963 Chevy C10 Fleetside already named “Grand Slammed”. This NASCAR inspired truck will be powered by a Cadillac CTS-V engine and equipped with a 6 speed manual transmission. His goal is to raise the bar set so high by his previous projects. Bringing these unique vehicles back to life has rejuvenated the passion for building Don seemed to have lost after so many years, a fitting return for the storied creator.