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Dave Noble

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R 56 Rod Restoration Project – Dave Nobale

I’ve always had an interest in old vehicles and especially liked the Second series Chevy trucks.  When I found this 1956 Big Back Window pickup my dream project got off and running.  My original plan was to do a quick refurbishing job and hit the road but these plans changed when I decided to address handling, structural, design, and comfort issues.  I always figured Chevy got it right with the original exterior design so my primary objective was to maintain the basic lines yet tweak the body to smooth out the flow.  I had bigger plans for interior redesign.  Thus began a six year restoration project/rebuild that became my obsession consuming literally 1000’s of hours of my time.

I stripped the truck to the frame removing all components and hardware.  Then smoothed the frame by welding all holes shut, boxing the front half for strength and replacing the stock front cross member with a Mustang II . The frame was then powder coated and assembly began.  Independent front suspension with disk brakes and power rack and pinion were installed and connected to a polished aluminum IDIDIT steering column with a Billet Specialties Sniper steering wheel.  A frame mounted POL chrome power brake booster and master cylinder were placed under the cab.  Out back a TCI four link with coil-over rear suspension was added. A custom built flip down battery box and fuel cell were dropped between the rails and brake and fuel lines were fabricated.

The power train consisted of building a 4-bolt main Chevy small block into a 400+ horse power 383 stroker utilizing a SCAT revolving assembly, SRP inverted dome pistons, Comp Cam, vortex heads, and Edelbrock manifold and carburetor.  The motor was dressed up with numerous polished aluminum accessories such as valve covers, oil pan, Griffin radiator, March serpentine belt system, and a hand polished aluminum ¾ scale Bitchin Products 50’s Cadillac replica air cleaner. Heater, radiator, and air conditioner lines were formed using braided stainless.  Electrical power flows through an American Autowire harness, Pertronix Flame-Thrower distributor and MSD plug wires.  Ceramic coated 2 ½ inch pipes with Patriot Clipper headers and Magnaflow stainless mufflers dump the exhaust out back.  

A 700R4 overdrive transmission was freshened up including an upgraded stall converter and shift kit.  A rebuilt 1979 TA 10-bolt 8 ½ posi rear-end with disc brakes gets the power to Toyo Proxes GT 255/45/18 and 295/40/20 tires on COYS 18 and 20 inch wheels.

The body-off rotisserie restoration involved removing all emblems; replacing the many traditional problem areas with new metal and panels; closing the cowl vent and fuel filler spout; filling all holes in firewall; rounding door corners; and smoothing all seams and building inner fender extensions.  Vent windows were removed and replaced with one-piece glass and Specialty Power Windows.  Front park lights were moved out 1 inch and Frenched in.  1948 Chevy car taillights were horizontally Frenched into rear fenders as was a radio antennae into cab corner.  A Hagan gas door was installed on left rear fender and a third brake light was flush mounted in rear of cab.  Bear claws replaced traditional latches and California Custom contacts were installed to get juice to the power windows and remote controlled door solenoids.
The box was pretty rough so new bed sides, front panel, and end gate were acquired from MarK.  The bedrails were closed, panels welded together, and mini tubs fabricated from 1967 Chevy box inner fenders.  Oak wood was fitted, stained, and finished to match the color scheme. All stainless hardware including bed strips with hidden fasteners and hidden box mounts were installed. The original front and rear bumpers were smoothed and tucked and a rear filler plate fabricated. The tonneau lid was fabricated by Pro’s Pick and aluminum rail and hardware were modified and hand polished.  Electric actuators controlled by remotes handle the opening and closing.

The interior was redesigned with a smooth flowing style that sported all the creature comforts.  Inner cab seams were smoothed as was the dash.  The original dash and heater controls, ashtray, and glove box were removed.  To make the dash symmetrical a donor truck’s driver’s gauge bezel was installed in place of the passenger glove box and I worked with Dakota Digital to design instrument clusters for both bezels.  The dash was extended down 4 inches to accommodate air conditioning vents.  A flow through style metal centre console was fabricated with a hinged door compartment that accommodates the ignition, light, and intermittent windshield wiper and washer switches, as well as, Vintage Air conditioner controls.  The Secret Audio stereo system, Lokar gear shifter, storage compartment, as well as, concealed Audison amplifier are all built into the console.  Lokar throttle and brake pedals, dimmer switch cover, cable shifter, and emergency brake were utilized.

Seat mounts were fabricated for a modified set of Jeep Cherokee power bucket seats.  Speaker housings were fabricated in the inner rear cab corners and front kick panels.  Hushmat premium sound dampening was used throughout for quieting and for enhanced stereo sound.  The upholstery scheme was designed and assembled by myself and Dean Pederson.  With Dean stitching up the custom seats, panels, headliner, and inside tonneau panel in camel Nudo leather and sandstone Endurasoft vinyl trim. Rugs were custom formed from ACC Essex beige carpet.

I struggled with the paint scheme wanting to have a non-traditional 2-tone.  I worked with Garry Redekop and Shaun Ring at Herbert Auto Collision & Painting  to come up with the custom aqua and champagne colors.  After much research and many drawings I came up with the line for the color split.  An airbrushed tailgate insignia, blue-dot halogen headlights, a billet aluminum grill, and a 10-channel Dakota Digital remote to control door latches, power windows, and tonneau cover helped finish things off, as well as a Dakota Digital cruise control.

What you see six years later from 1000’s of hours of research, design, and building, not to mention a bit of cash, is this refurbished 1956 Chevy truck in which I was personally involved in the design, fabrication and assembly of all aspects of the build.  I appreciated the help of MAX Machine with the long block; Barry Winters with transmission refreshing; and especially Dean Pederson with the stitching and assembling of the interior and Garry Redekop and Shaun Ring at Herbert Auto Collision & Painting for guidance, final body preparation, and painting, including the airbrush end gate insignia.  I’d also like to acknowledge Glenn Marshall, Dennis Ghiglione, and my wife Penny for their support throughout the project.

Dream it.  Build it.  Hope you enjoy R56ROD.

Dave Noble, Kyle Sk.  

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