Freedom High Schoolers Paint the Pickup

EDITOR’S NOTE: See build progress photos above. The following news blog was written by John Gunnell, owner of Gunner’s Great Garage Restoration Shop in Manawa, Wisconsin. Gunnell regularly contributes articles and industry-driven observations for THE SHOP magazine and eNewsletter.

The first installment showcasing Freedom High School’s 1951 Chevy Advance Design pickup build, it was Sept. 12 and I had doubts that the students and Auto Club members could have the project ready to display in the B’laster Corp. booth at the SEMA Show. After all, the show dates are Oct. 30-Nov. 2 and the truck project looked like it had many months to go.

Revisiting the Advance Design pickup again on Sept. 19, it looked even less finished at a glance. The cab had again been removed from the Chevy S10 frame and the students seemed to be struggling with fitting some of the V-8 engine accessories on the block in the V-6 frame.

Upon closer examination, the cab of the truck had been moved into the school’s high-tech paint booth. The rear fenders and cargo box had been patina painted and clear coated over the remnants of the original paint.

The cargo box also had a nice, new oak wood bed with stainless steel skid rails separating the oaken boards. The students had purposely left the tailgate with an original look and plenty of battle scars from years of hardworking use. That kind of treatment is a badge of courage for today’s youth and this was, after all, the students’ project.

Before long, a bunch of the students went over to the paint booth to press their faces against the glass and watch one of their friends squirt the interior and exterior of the old cab. This was the same young man who had painted the Toyota 4 Runner that was done by Freedom High School auto students for last year’s SEMA Show.

Starting inside the cab and working his way to the outside, the slender, blonde-haired young man had the new finish applied in no time. In addition to painting the truck pretty nicely, he put on quite a show for his onlooking friends.

Moving back to the S10 chassis, I noticed it was painted black. All of the suspension parts looked new. Teacher Jay Abitz said the motor mounts were a slightly modified Camaro style that could accommodate the 350 V-8. He said the engine and transmission had been rebuilt by B & B Racing Engines of Appleton, Wisconsin.

According to Abitz, the project is moving along right on schedule. We’ll have to take his word on that. Without the cab mounted, the truck looked pretty far from being completed. There’s still a lot to do, but I think the Freedom High School students are up to the job at hand.

John Gunnell

John Gunnell has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles.

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