Every once in a while some lucky soul stumbles upon a piece of classic truck history, it’s never me, but hey somebody has to luck out. In this case the lucky one was Dave Pareso out of Fountain, Colorado. The story actually started back in 1972 when Dave saw the truck for the first time in the parking lot of a local Denver swap meet. It was a pretty radical custom ’50 Stude pickup and it really made an impression on Dave but unfortunately at the time he wasn’t in the position to do much more than admire it and file it away in his mind as one cool custom. (By the way, in the way of a bit of background, these days Dave owns Back Street Kustoms in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of the area’s premier custom shops, so he knows a historic piece when he sees one.) Then, years later, while taking care of a bit of business at a local shop (Barnes Upholstery) he happened to notice a picture of a pickup hanging on the wall that looked familiar. Well, the closer he looked the more familiar it seemed, and come to find out it was the very same Studebaker custom he’d admired 10 years earlier. When Dave questioned Ed Barnes (the proprietor of the upholstery shop) about the pickup Ed said it was his, and as a matter of fact it was stored in a shed out back where it’d been sitting on and off for 20 years or so. Well, Dave chalked it up to destiny and scrambled to figure out a way to get his hands on it. After a checking it out, and with a bit of back and forth he ended up talking Ed into a trade-his S-10 Chevy shop truck straight across for the Stude-and as far as Dave is concerned he got the best of the deal, and so do we. There’s nothin’ like the proverbial barn find, especially a custom with a bit of history attached.
Speaking of history, it looks as though the truck was originally created in the late ’50s at Dick’s Auto Body in Fort Collins, Colorado, featured in a magazine (not sure which one) in ’63, and ended up in a Denver junkyard (less its Buick V-8) in the end of the ’60s where Ed Barnes found it. The Stude had been modified originally by chopping the top 41/2 inches, the A-pillars slanted, the hood corners rounded. The rest of the body had been shaved and the fenders pulled in 21/2 inches in the front. A pair of ’61 Chrysler taillights were grafted to the bed, and the license plate was frenched. The grille was handmade, utilizing components donated by a ’58 Ford, ’61 Chrysler headlights added, and a Chevy Nomad cargo doorskin used on its tailgate.
Barnes made a few minor changes to it mechanically and added fresh paint (by Tom Turnquist of Denver in early 1971 as well as some pinstriping by “Rody” soon after) but left the custom bodywork as it was. Dave decided to pretty much do the same and has no interest in changing the body in any way keeping it as close to what it was in ’63 as possible. Dave did make some mechanical and safety upgrades since it has become a “driver” over the last few years.
Kudos to Dave for not using his customizing talents to make unneeded changes. He’s proud of this truck and says, “It’s truly one of a kind! There has been a few done up close to it but not quite the same.” Dave drives the Stude just about everywhere! It’s definitely not a trailer queen or a Sunday cruiser and in the 10 years he’s owned it he’s driven it to Utah, Kansas, Nevada, and all over Colorado-pretty much anywhere and everywhere there’s a show or cruise he wants to attend. Just what we like to see-a survivor that gets driven rather than babied.
This story is from The Corvette in the Barn and it’s a good one. Make sure to signup for email updates so you will be entered in our weekly book giveaway. Also, send in your own find stories because the best one submitted this year will make it into Tom’s next book. Now back to The Silver Dollar in the Barn, enjoy!
For many enthusiasts, the seed for acquiring an old car is planted early in life. A permanent image of a certain car is burned into the hard drive of the brain, and age does not dilute that image. Such was the case with Chris Unger, a car-crazy youth who was exposed to drag racing early in life. “I was thirteen years old when we moved to Orange, California, and my older brother would let me tag along with him on weekends to Lyons Drag Strip in Escondido,” said Unger. “Early on, I heard there was an old A-Gas Willys sitting in a barn somewhere in Escondido. It apparently belonged to an electrician who lived in the area.”
Unger grew up in the heart of drag racing country during the golden era of the 1960s. Like scores of young guys during that time, he was attracted to the pure horsepower and muscle of the A- and B-Gas cars, especially the Willys gassers that were once common. Unger had never actually seen the Willys gasser, but he had heard the rumors that it was put into storage before he moved to Orange. In his mind’s eye, he knew just what it looked like. He knew it was a 1940 Willys pickup truck called the Silver Dollar, so he imagined it was silver in color. And like all proper gassers of the day, it probably had a straight tubular front axle and magnesium wheels.
“So eventually I found the electrician, Mike, and we became friends over the years. At one point as a young fellow, I was even an apprentice electrician for him.” Even though they had become friends, though, Mike never offered to show Unger the Silver Dollar.
Mike had built the Willys from a stock steel truck in 1960 and originally painted it red. According to Unger, it was featured in some early-1960s rodding magazines before some of the steel parts were substituted for fiberglass and it was painted silver. The hood came from Cal Automotive, but Mike manufactured the fiberglass fenders and pickup bed himself and actually made a fiberglass floor panel to cut the weight. Eventually he had it down to about 1,800 pounds.
This is my Chevy S10 Xtreme that I’ve now had for a couple of years, not imported by me, purchased from a nice couple in Penzance.
I’ve changed out the Lexus style rear lights for a set of LED based units with side marker lights from LMC Truck in the States.
The load bed has also been coated with Line-X which I think has improved the look as the bed was pretty scratched.
I’ve got the original invoice for the vehicle which I obtained via the excellent GM Heritage Centre. The truck was originally supplied to a dealer called Schramm & Cox in Wentzville Missouri, you can see the options in the picture gallery. Some of the options that you would perhaps expect aren’t present such as, power windows and locking.
The previous owner had installed 20″ rims with spacers, I’m trying to locate a set of the original alloys to put it back to stock, These I think will have to come from the States.
As you can see it’s in pretty good nick, I eventually purchased a good quality cover imported from the States to protect it as it lives outside, the cheap covers just fell to pieces!