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A long wait rewarded

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 12:06 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 7:11 a.m.

Photos

— Wayne Bagby knows that high-quality results take time. His stunning 1936 Chevy pickup is testament to that, having taken nearly 16 years to come together.

“I bought the truck in 1998 from Jack Perry, who had got it through an auction in Arizona,” Bagby said. “My friend, Bob Burdorff, stored it for me at his place for seven years. Then, when I retired, I built me a garage here and we brought the truck over and I got started on it. I spent eight years on it, off and on.”

There had been no rush because Bagby and his wife, Ruth, had enjoyed driving and showing a custom 1949 Chevy pickup that he had built years ago. But he sold that truck in 2008, so they really needed to get going on the ’36.

“It was a frame-off job. It was rough, but pretty much rust-free because it had been so dry in Arizona,” Bagby said. “I threw away the bed and fenders. The only thing I kept was the cab and doors … and the original frame,” he said. “Everything else was aftermarket.”

The project literally began from the wheels up, as Bagby used a set of Rally wheels for rolling stock on the original chassis, which got a Mustang II front suspension, complete with rack and pinion steering and power disc brakes. A tilt column from an S-10 Chevy pickup was linked to the steering rack via a steering shaft that actually runs through the driver’s side frame rail.

For power, Bagby built a 2004-vintage LS1 Corvette engine producing an estimated 370 horsepower and installed the factory drivetrain computer under the driver’s seat. It controls both the engine and the 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission.

“Everything is `drive-by-wire.’ This whole thing is computer-driven,” Bagby said. With a 4-core Walker radiator installed, he realized there was not room for the factory air intake, so he crafted his own “reverse flow” air box that tucks neatly just above the engine.

With an engine cover painted to match and contrast with the final body work and a set of Street and Performance tubular headers bolted to the aluminum heads, Bagby decided the finished engine was too pretty to cover up. So the 3-piece Rootlieb hood was modified, with a curved cutaway carved into each side panel.

An aftermarket bed kit was purchased, but looked too long for the silhouette that Bagby was after. So he trimmed 5 inches off the length before building a solid, fixed “tailgate” out of fresh sheetmetal. He modified the outside bed supports and connecting hardware so no bolts are exposed.

‘I wanted to get rid of all the lines on the tailgate, and this cleaned it all up,” said Bagby, who had 37 years of metal fabrication at Boeing on his resume when he retired. The smoothed tailgate contains frenched ’41 Chevy tail lights, with custom exhaust tips and the license plate frenched into the rear roll pan.

Bill’s American Muffler built the remainder of the exhaust system, which includes a set of throaty Magnaflow mufflers.

The bed rails were capped and special channels installed to drain water from the handmade aluminum honeycomb tonneau cover, emptying through tubes at the front of the bed. Bagby built his own stainless steel gas tank and fill cap, which sits flush with the oak bed floor that he cut and finished in his own wood shop.

He used reproduction fiberglass Chevy front fenders sourced from Jim Carter Truck Parts in Missouri, opting for Speedway Motors’ 1934 Ford fiberglass fenders widened three inches to cover the wide rear tires. Special tapered steel running boards had to be ordered to take into account the increased angle between front and rear fenders.

The 9-inch Ford rear end is fitted with wider Rally wheels with beauty rings and Corvette spinner hubcaps. Tires are 275 /60 /15 Goodrich radial TA’s in back, with smaller 215 /60 /15s up front. Bagby chose 3.70 gears for easy highway cruising.

A lot of thought went into the project, including the decision not to chop the top on the cab.

“I needed the headroom,” Bagby says. “When you start modifying these old vehicles, you run out of room real quick.” Case in point: he searched long and hard before finding just the right S-10 Blazer bucket seats with thin back rests, to get him a bit farther away from the steering wheel.

He employed Rick Fisher Upholstery of Augusta to do the two-tone cream and dark tan interior, accenting a roof-mounted console that also freed up space in the dash. Bagby decided the factory dashboard wouldn’t work, so cut the lower portion off and fabricated a new piece to accommodate a set of white-faced Auto Meter gauges and Vintage Air air conditioner controls. He also built the custom steering column drop and the metal shifter boot for the Lokar floor shifter.

Once he had all the body work up to his meticulous standards, Bagby had Gwynn Bilson of Benton spray everything in Chrysler Inferno Red Crystal Pearl, making the re-created ’36 Chevy pickup a real eye-popper.

Bagby’s wife, Ruth, thinks there’s one more thing he could do to improve its looks.

“I think it needs a set of Cragar chrome 5-spokes,” she said.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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