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1947-55 Chevrolet Panel/Pickup

Owner: Rod Lentz
1947 – 1955 Chevrolet
We met the owner, Rod Lentz of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania at the recent Spring Carlisle Event in April 2012. It was a pleasure hearing of his lifelong enjoyment of owning and restoring older vehicles, especially the 1947-55 Chevrolet Advance Design body style. He became talented in most all mechanical and body repairs. However, he gradually began to think the best of both worlds would be a 1947-53 body with more modern street rod components.

Then one day it happened! He saw the first GM ads showing their soon to be released SSR truck in 2004. He was overtaken with interest. It would be so great to own a new Chevy truck that looked much like the 60 year original and have all the options we have today. He had to have one!!

Later in the year at the unveiling of the new SSR, Rod was a little disappointed. It looked much less like the older trucks he grew up with and the price was well, shall we say not reachable. He realized he would not be owning the SSR that he had been building himself up to own. What now? With his many years of experience with older cars and now being a mechanic at a local Chevrolet dealership, why not build one? He would create his own version of an SSR. It would be updated, and still quickly recognizable as an Advance Design truck.

So it’s 6 years later and Rod’s new SSR is placed on the road. It is truly a vehicle that stops traffic and creates crowds at all antique car shows. Nothing has ever been seen like this. GM should have had this vehicle as a guide to build their SSR!

For more details on Rod’s SSR, check the following to learn some of his secrets:

Rod saw a newspaper ad for some stored unlicensed older vehicles about 10 miles from his home. A 1949 deluxe 5 window Chevrolet had some restoration potential, however a nearby 1948 ½ ton panel truck was far from rebuilding. The owner had not yet called a metal recycler to remove the remaining parts. He told Rod if he would buy the pickup, the parts of the panel truck would be free. This offer and Rod’s creative ideas made the deal. The two vehicles could maybe be combined to create a one of a kind truck that looked more like it came from a Chevrolet dealership 60 years ago and definitely resemble the newly introduced SSR truck.

Good luck! As Rod suspected, the pickup cab width is the same as the panel truck. This was important in grafting the sides to the pickup. The floor was too deteriorated in the panel so it was here Rod got even more creative. He found a used metal floor from a newer used pickup and cut the edges to be just right for the panel truck body. The whole package was sandblasted, patched, and primed before attaching it to the pickup. Yes, it also attached to the frame rails! GM made it that way.

Notice the rear of the bed. Do you recognize some of the remains of the two barn doors from the panel truck? Of course, they fit perfectly because they were from the parts Rod received with the panel truck body! He welded the two halves together to make one panel and then made them into a fold down hinged tailgate.

To help create a little more of the SSR proportions, the top was lowered 2” and the doors widened 4”. What a job! The dash of the 1949 was replaced with one from a 1957 Chevy car.

The engine is as unique as the hand crafted body. Rod found a new 292 six cylinder at a nearby Chevrolet dealership. This is the big six for large trucks and school buses from 1963 through the early 1980’s. He added a 4 barrel Offenhouser intake manifold and Edlebrock carburetor plus a dual exhaust system. The appropriate chrome and polished metal give it that special appearance that is so different than a V-8 engine. Just this power plant alone makes it a real “crowd stopper” at any auto show! The highway performance is amazing! A few V-8 engines might be able to keep up with it.

The floor shift transmission is the current popular T-5 five speed from an early S-10 Chevrolet truck. Its overdrive 5th gear gives the panel/pickup the little extra on the highway and helps lower engine RPM. The shift lever comes out of the floor in just the correct factory position.

Rod used a 1980’s aluminum Corvette differential that gives the truck higher highway speed. The front suspension is also all aluminum as removed from a 1984 Corvette. Modern all disc brakes and 5 bolt 16” wheels add to the package.

Look at those unique headlights. The headlight holes in the front fender were slightly enlarged and now they secure the light assemblies from a Volkswagen New Beatle.

By using two mufflers from a US made Victory motorcycle on the dual exhaust system, the sound is just right. There is no comparison to the sound from a V-8 engine.

The photos tell the story. Rob has a SSR that looks like the 1950’s.

You can contact him at: rnclentz@comcast.net

1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet
1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet

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