For many gear heads, the love for restoring cars starts with a toy model that often turns into a lifelong passion of restoring and building life-sized old classics. This was the same for Mike. At the age of 7, he would put together plastic models and his favorite one he ever built was a 1934 Ford Vicki. So when Mike turned 16 he got a job working and training at Genoa Auto Body for seven years. While he was working for Genoa Auto Body he also took a second job working at a restoration shop in Oswego, IL. The great part was he was working with cars, but with the lack of benefits Mike needed to leave for another job. After years of restoring other people’s cars, he always hoped that one day he would be putting together his custom truck.
In 1983, Mike found a 1938 Chevy flatbed truck that he ended up buying at a farm auction. It wasn’t exactly the year he was looking for but it was something he could work with. He was searching for a 1937 since it had no wood and was made with all steel. At the time, it was partially fixed up to be used as a work truck. It originally had a rebuilt motor and has been repainted in some areas. As Mike was driving it back home, the rear end was screaming at 55 mph since it was not made for highway driving. The most it was driven since Mike bought it was driving the family a few passes in front of the house and moving it from one house to another, twice. The rest of the time it was sitting untouched.
Mike had a vision in his head that he wanted to completely customize the truck one day. 2010 was the start of that journey, he retired, leaving himself a year to relax until he decided it was time to get started to work on his dream truck. From bumper to bumper, it has been welded, altered, and personalized to his liking. Mike did not like the flatbed look to the truck and was on the lookout for a rust-free bed. As he was driving down the road from his house, he found a 1941-46 Chevy bed that would work, but it would need modifications to make it look like it was from a 1938. A retired farmer originally used it as a pull-behind trailer for many years. For $100, Mike received the bed that included the rear end and tailgate. For a truck bed in nice shape, it was a good deal!
When the truck bed was brought home, he used a re-shaped body hammer to make the fenders look like a 1938 with smooth sides. Even though it was rust-free, the rails and wood needed to be replaced from the constant use of hauling feed. Mike has completely rebuilt the rear end with new axles, new backing plates, all-new rear brakes, and mounting hardware including a kit with new leaf springs and shackles.
After the additional bodywork and media blasting the entire truck and frame. Now it is time for the paint. Mike had chosen Sikkens Chevy’s “Red Hot Red” base coat and clear coat with an epoxy prime base and had it completely refinished all around. Additionally, this truck has all new chrome parts that have been restored and replated. The hood ornament, oval head bumper bolt kit for front and rear bumpers were bought brand new to make this truck stand out from the rest. He wanted the newer Mustang tail light setup by adding 6 new 1959 Cadillac style tail light assemblies with sequential control units when the directional turned on.
Almost everything on the truck has been refinished or replaced with a new item. This is essentially a brand-new truck with an old-style completely restored body. With the help of several family members and friends, Mike’s restoration of his 1938 Chevy truck was made possible. With the encouragement of his girlfriend to register the truck at multiple shows, he found himself winning many Best of Shows and First Places at local car shows along with placing at World of Wheels in 2020. Many friends and family had helped him along with this project, but Mike’s main helper was his grandson. Once it was all restored, he was able to have a fun drive around the country roads. The passion for restoring cars and trucks will continue to stay in the family for years to come.
1938 Chevy Truck
- AutoMeter Antique Beige series gauges and tachometer with original speedometer
- 350 crate 240 hp crate engine with new Holley 570 CFM carburetor
- Completely rebuilt 700R4 transmission with overdrive
- New Fatman Fabrication front end suspension assembly
- Aluminum MAG rims with BF Goodrich Advantage T/A Sport tires
- 2.5” stainless steel custom exhaust
- New chrome tilt steering column with new banjo-style steering wheel and cruise control
10- Best of Show
4- 1st Place
2- 2nd Place
6- Top 24-100
3- Best Truck
Best Modified Truck
Outstanding Display- 2020 World of Wheels
1st Place for Custom Rod Truck- 2020 World of Wheels
- Chris O (son)- Helped disassemble the truck. Built the center council and fire extinguisher cabin
- Roger O (brother)- Disassembled the truck and stripped off the paint.
- Jay M- Helped Mike with the finish work such as spraying epoxy, primer, paint, clear coating, and sanding. At the end of paint work, Jay helped with adding the final exterior assembly and the finishing touches.
- John M- Did all the welding done on the frame, installed gas lines, bent the brake lines, and helped with mechanical work and assembly.
- John M’s sons (Jarrett & Ryan)- Custom built and installed stainless steel exhaust system.
- Chuck C- Went through all the mechanical and electrical issues on the engine, transmission, and dash along with answering any questions along the way.
- Tim C- Helped pick out AutoMeter gauges that would match his original speedometer.
- Bob D- Set up stereo and sequential control unit assembly.
- Brad W- Blasted the body with crushed glass that would help remove rust build-up.
- There is much appreciation for the miscellaneous work done to the truck from Brad D, Dave A, and Mike’s brother Jimmy.
Other Restoration Pictures:
Mike’s grandson, Jack, is making sure everything is done just right.
Jack’s first drive down the country roads.