Custom 1971 Chevy Super Shortbed 4x4 Truck - Wicked WeezaPosted in Features on November 10, 2006 0) (
In this world of movers and shakers, it's refreshing to come across places where people don't mind getting to know one another and have the time to pay friendly visits as means of welcome. Jay Hansell and his family had just moved from Indiana to Iowa when one of their first visits was from a local farm kid who drove into their driveway in a '71 Chevy Super Shortbed. Well, with all the greetings and pleasantries aside, Karen decided that she wanted a truck. No, not just any truck. That one. The '71. As most smart men know, making a woman happy is a fairly simple thing, and after a brief discussion, the neighbor was pleased to accept Jay's '02 Polaris 700 ATV in trade. Thus, Karen "Weeza" Hansell (a nickname she's long been known by) got her truck, and Jay Hansell had something to play with.
Jay makes a living running a paint and fabrication shop that specializes in customizing RVs and Winnebagos in Fort City, Missouri. With his own Monster truck - the Eliminator - under his belt and years of experience in reserve, Jay was happy to see that the '71 was in fairly good shape. To make it a decent daily driver, Jay executed a mild-performance rebuild on the engine and did a little bodywork to freshen the Chevy up, and Karen drove it around for nearly a year. At that point, however, a certain someone decided she wanted to drive a lifted truck. With Jay bent on buying as little as possible for the build and putting his abilities to the test, Project Weeza had begun.
Jay began by cutting and sectioning the Chevy shortbed. Although Karen wanted the truck lifted, it was also vital that the vehicle be functional. Jay was adamant about building something that wouldn't be destroyed. The stock framerails were deleted, and the main 'rails were replaced by 3x3-inch, 0.125-wall square tubing. The balance of the frame and chassis were connected using 1-3/4-inch, 0.125-wall DOM round tubing. Jay used both MIG and TIG welds to melt the steel into an integral structural unit. In keeping with the high-grade construction of the frame, Jay used nothing but Grade 8 fasteners to bolt individual components to Weeza's base.
Underneath the hood, the original motor was swapped out for a '72 454, which was then bored out to 468ci for an output of 550 hp. Jay was pleased to report that the mill can successfully run on pump gas, but on VP 114-octane racing gasoline, this truck really pulls out the stops.
We all know that drivetrains can be built in many different configurations, for various purposes and intents. In Weeza's case, however, Jay wanted to build something "that would be functional and wouldn't break." The task began with the installation of a 3/4-ton Dana 44 with a Detroit Locker. The locker is spun by 4.56 gears. At the wheels, a pair of Warn hubs are engaged when it's time to use four-wheel drive. The rear heavy-hitting Dana 60 uses a matching set of gears, with the help of an Eaton posi for improved off-road traction and praiseworthy street manners. The rear disk-brake brackets were fabricated by the owner.
Jay took the exterior under careful consideration, ensuring that the quality of work put into the internals was maintained in the exterior and interior modifications. He once again put his skills on display by updating the interior with remote power locks, power windows, and door openers. A section of the polished diamond-plate bed floor was opened up to make way for a pair of bright blue King colors. Jay then applied his own graphics to Weeza's facade using Sherman Williams custom colors. Not to be left untouched, the stock steering column was replaced with a tilt wheel, and ACP custom seats take care of the driver's and passenger's needs.
Jay wanted Weeza to be a show-quality vehicle, and in the eight months he put into the project, we'd say that goal was well met. Completion of the project wouldn't have been possible without the help of Darren and Deric Cink and Darren Myer. The Hansells have taken home Best of Show trophies at various shows in Iowa, and although show trophies aren't our main concern, they are notable gratifications. As for our vote, ground-up quality customization that's functional and performance-driven is good enough. Jay reports that Karen is very happy, though hesitant to push the limits off-road. Well, it's her truck. We have confidence in Weeza's off-road prowess and are eager to see Jay's next undertaking - Weeza's Revenge.