When we met Chris Bowen he was setting up his tent on Means Dry Lakebed in Johnson Valley. In February. Yeah, this is Southern California, but it gets downright frigid at night in the desert, as evidence by the sea of motorhomes surrounding Chris’ campsite, generators humming. Also absent from the scene were a trailer and tow rig, but he wasn’t driving a plush new truck.
If Tow Mater from Disney’s animated Cars movie had a big brother, it would be Chris’ ’49 Chevy. The guts of the truck came from his well-seasoned K5 Blazer, which he used to compete in Four Wheeler magazine’s Top Truck Challenge back in 2003. Even back then the body was beat, but it got to the point that Chris couldn’t touch his rig without drawing blood.
He found this ’49 Chevy cab in El Centro and brought it home strapped to the roof of his Suburban. “I didn’t even get pulled over!” he proclaims. With the foundation already in place it didn’t take much work to graft the cab and chassis together and get back on the trail.
1949 Chevrolet Pickup
Engine: 350ci V-8
Transmission: SM465 4-speed manual
Transfer case: Klune V and NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60 with welded spider gears, 4.56 gears, 35-spline axleshafts, and Warn hubs
Rear Axle: Dana 60 with Detroit Locker, 4.56 gears, and disc brakes
Springs & Such: Mix-and-match leaf springs and F-350 shocks and shock towers
Tires & Wheels: 18.5/44-15LT Super Swamper TSLs on 15x10 Champion beadlocks
Steering: Crossover with ported Saginaw box and PSC hydraulic ram
Other Stuff: Ramsey winch, cab conversion, rear mounted radiator, custom rollcage, CO2 air tank, 32-gallon fuel cell, Twisted Stitch suspension seats