Robert Henderson of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a guy's guy. watches college football every Saturday, and he loves to build custom rides. He's also got affection for the '47-'55 Chevy trucks, also known as the Advanced Design series. This isn't his first AD truck. Last time around, Robert built a '54 Chevy truck for his wife and did a total Pro Street makeover on the beast. By the time it was done though, Robert felt like something was missing, like he needed to do it again, but this time go much, much further with the build. He happened to have a '49 that 35 years prior had started life on a farm, so why not turn the old truck into his newest project? Ten thousand dollars later and it was on a trailer to Robert's house, never to be stock again.
Robert had a plan, and it was pretty simple: If it was on the truck, it had to be modified. The truck was stripped down to nothing, with every part put into bags and labeled, and then the frame was set up to be worked on. Robert knew he wanted an independent front end, so he went to a junkyard and scored a front clip from a '69 Camaro. Once he got the clip though, he decided to scrap the stock frame and build a new one out of 2x3 tubing. With the front end hung, he needed something to work well for the rear, so he went with a tried-and-true leaf-spring rear suspension, which was mated to a 12-bolt Chevy rearend.
With the frame handled, it was time to bang out the motor. Another trip to the 'yard scored a '79 small-block Chevy V-8, which was bored out to 400 cubic inches. The motor was assembled with quality parts like a Holley intake manifold, Dart heads, and a Crane cam. Then the motor was mated to a Tremec transmission with a Zoom clutch, completing the drivetrain. Of course, none of it was kept stock, and there's plenty of chrome and polish work to make it all nice and pretty.
Next, it was time for the body. Robert wanted the cab to really make a statement, and nothing says hardcore like a 6-inch chop with a matching 6-inch channel. This process would end up becoming the most difficult part of the whole truck, since taking 6 inches out of the roof of a '49 Chevy isn't that easy. Robert got it done though, and the results speak for themselves. Another nice touch on the truck is the hood. Sure, it reverses forward on actuators, but that's not the really cool part. The cowl was hand-formed from a second hood from a donor '47-'55 Chevy truck. Once everything was perfectly sanded and cleaned up, it was sprayed House of Kolor Kandy Tangerine with gold ghost flames by Robert's buddy, Joe Fontana, of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The truck was reassembled, and Joe Fontana was called upon once again to put the finishing touches on the interior. The truck, now dubbed "Copperhead," needed something cool to stand out from the others. A customdyed orange tweed was combined with gray leather and expert stitchwork to create a one-of-a-kind custom interior. Flame designs were created with foam and stitching, and the rest of the dash was painted to match the truck. A custom steering wheel and 11 Auto Meter gauges round out the interior nicely.
It took a long time to build and a lot of sweat and blood were emptied into the truck, but in the end Robert knew it was all worth it. At the end of the day, he's a cool guy who loves his Kentucky football, his wife and his family, and a little truck named Copperhead.