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Posts Tagged ‘1958’

1958 Chevrolet ½ ton Short Bed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Yes, you can create a 1950’s show truck at home, however it requires a basic mechanical attitude, enthusiasm, tools and of course a garage or work shed. This little ½ ton now looks about like when it was in the dealer’s show room 60 years ago. It left its home garage only once during its three year ground-up restoration.

The owners and restorers are Dick & Dolores Diestel of Schofield, Wisconsin.

 Truck History:

This 1958 Chevy was discovered in Montana alongside a back road by some hunters from Wisconsin about seven years ago. Rust covered and the bed was missing. See photo.

Seen Along a Roadside

Some would say it was a few steps from the salvage yard! At one time it had been used by a local farmer to mostly carry bags of feed from the town to a nearby cattle operations.

The hunters decided the price was right and took it back to their northern Wisconsin location as a future “fixer-upper!” There it sat untouched for about two years until Dick Diestler found it. He bid the right price and then owned it.


Meet Dick Diestler:

This person is a real go getter and an inspiration to many. Dick is a retired electrician and 81 years old. He acts and looks 20 years younger! Not only does he love retirement but he stays so active. Many would say he stays younger by being active and keeping his brain working.

Dick’s talents are many beyond being a quality electrician in his other life. He is a “Jack of all Trades.” During his employment years he did a few complete restorations after hours; Three 60 year old farm tractors, and older earth moving dozer, and early Jeep, a large retired “big” truck, etc.

One day after his retirement Dick rode with a friend in a nice older truck that had been restored and he was hooked. “I want to restore an over 60 year old GM pickup to be just like I remembered when they were new.” As this big restoration got underway he wondered how he had time to work his regular electrician job and still do a few restorations.

The Restoration:

It was three year project but Dick Diestler loved every minute of it. He had restored non-trucks in the past years so he had a general idea of what would need to be done. Finding parts to replace those not restorable was the big part of the project. It can be quite frustrating trying to find items not being reproduced that you need to continue with the restoration.

He did almost the “total” restoration with little help except for upholstering the two seat cushions. With a welder in his garage Dick cut out and replaced the cab corners, much of the floor, and everything that was rusted beyond repair. Completing the frame restoration, was big considering a few age cracks and much grease accumulation over the years. See these photos Dick realized to make the final painting perfect he would have to do it in a paint booth so he found one at local body shop he could rent one.

The agreement was to rent the booth at their shop for 5 days at $1,000.00. An employee would help him block sand the primer before the Cardinal Red was applied. Yes, Dick Diestler personally did the final spray painting of the red.


The Extras:

He has kept this ½ ton mostly as it left the dealership in 1958 including Cardinal Red paint.

Factory Special order options:

  • The 283 cubic inch V-8 engine that was in the pickup in Montana during its beginning years (Extra cost over the 235 six cylinder engine)
  • 4 Speed Transmission (not the standard 3 speed column unit)
  • A double pulley generator turned by a secondary pulley attached to the crankshaft
  • Chrome grill, bumpers and hubcaps.
  • AM Radio
  • Fresh Air Heater
  • 16’’ Wheels (not the standard 15’’) This helps reduce some engine RPM

Accessories (Non-Chevrolet)

  • The differential gearing was changed from the 3.90 factory ratio to a recently made 3.38 ratio. What a difference 20% increase in higher speed and lower engine RPM on the highway
  • Dual exhaust system gives less back pressure and extra sound difference you cannot get with a catalytic converter.
  • Amber park light lenses replaced the original clear units.

Show Success:

When completed Dick began to wonder just how this ½ ton would be accepted in some car and truck shows. So he and his wife, Dolores, decided they would do local traveling together in Wisconsin. Dolores thought that people at shows might also enjoy seeing and reading about the truck as they walked by other displayed vehicles. Therefore she made a detailed poster with photos and text that is displayed next to the little ½ ton. Wow what an attention getter it has become!

Dick and Dolores can do this together and see much of Wisconsin they would have probably never had visited. It is part of the hobby that Dick had not originally thought about this but what a nice extra. Yes, they now travel together to each show in this 1958. No trailering.

Surprise, the people visiting the shows are in love with this pickup. Judging teams usually place it near the top with other show vehicles.

In two years showing it has received 25 trophies of which 17 were “First” in the show and many, many comments. That says it all. Not bad for a retired guy having fun with his hobby.

One Extra Plus: The Famous Iola, Wisconsin car show and swap meet that attracts 110,000 people each July has given this 1958 a place of honor. It’s one of about 50 special picked vehicles given a displayed area in their large main grassy yard in front the show’s headquarters.

OOPS, one last surprise:

Before this 1958 ½ ton, Dick experimented on a complete restoration on his first GM truck, a 1951 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup. That is a story in itself! It has received an equal amount of attention at car and truck shows. These two show trucks are always driven, not trailered. Between the two pickups, one end of their family room is filled with all the trophies they have received since Dick’s retirement.

Also see Featured Truck of the Month September 2012. You can contact Dick & Dolores at richarddiestler@charter.net

1958 Chevrolet Cameo

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Owner: Scott Phaneuf

It all began over 30 years ago about 60 miles from Boston, Massachusetts. Scott Phaneuf had begun to accumulate a few rental houses. He had started looking for a pickup truck to help move larger remodeling supplies. Nothing fancy was needed, just a less expensive pickup for hauling lumber, sheetrock, trash, etc.

Then it happened! After checking several older trucks in his city he was told of an unusual late 1950’s pickup in the adjacent town. He found it sitting outside behind a neighborhood garage and not running. The owner called it a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo truck. He said it was very rare and almost none had survived.  Scott immediately was interested. After 2  few phone calls and checking the public library he found it was very unusual truck and was produced at the end of its 3 ½ year production run in the mid-1950s. Scott had to have it!

After towing it home, Scott soon decided it was too unusual to leave so deteriorated. Why not turn it into almost new condition, use it for only light hauling, and have something few people in his area had ever seen. Therefore, in about a year Scott personally restored it to look almost new! It became his special hauler for almost 30 years.

Our story actually begins about 25 years after his first Cameo was purchased. Scott or his wife Donna was looking on Ebay when it was just in its beginnings and saw a 1958 Cameo in Georgia. Why not have another 1958? It would be like a “his and hers” pair of 1958 Cameos. They owned a large garage and had the restoration experience from the first Cameo. They made an Ebay bid and owned it!

When they returned from Georgia with their second Cameo, they decided it would be restored as perfect as they could make it and build it as an all original “show truck”.

Thus, this is our Feature Truck of the Month, the second 1958 Chevrolet Cameo owned by Scott and Donna Phaneuf. Yes, they bought it because it was a rare 1958 but it was also equipped with the optional 283 V-8 engine, a rare Hydramatic transmission, and very rare power steering. Later when they removed the body from the frame, a case of “buyer’s remorse” set in. “What did we do”? The rust was so much worse than their first. The cab floors, lower door hinge supports, and sheet metal corners were rusted beyond repair. Most any lower sheet metal panels needed to be replaced. They had no choice but to continue with the restoration. The truck was now in pieces and would have limited value in parts.

Fortunately Scott and Donna didn’t stop the restoration and they did it together. Several years later it became a near new as you can get. It’s considered Donnas’ truck.

The paint is the correct Tartan Turquoise and Bombay Ivory. Accessories on this already loaded Cameo are radio, fresh air heater, behind the seat tool tray and tool kit. It mostly is kept in their garage, but is occasionally seen at local shows. The main show for 2012 was at the American Truck Historical Society’s national meet in West Springfield, Massachusetts where it was displayed among the best in the country.

For most of us having two very nice 1958 Cameo’s would be the limit of our vehicle collection. But not the Phaneuf’s. No, their collection increased when they later discovered another 1958 Cameo they call #3. It is the rarest of all. Only two were made by General Motors and they were for display at 1958 auto shows. These had fuel injection as was offered as on option of the early Chevrolet Corvette’s with a 283 V-8 engine. After a major restoration it’s a real eye catcher with correct Golden Yellow and Jet Black colors.

A few years ago Scott retired so he now has even more time to spend in the restoration hobby. He recently found #4 1958 Cameo for such a good price he could not resist. It is probably the only Kodiak Brown with Bombay Ivory trim 1958 Cameo in existence. With Scott’s experience, it’s very rough condition and many years of outside storage will allow the Cameo to be restored while most would have called it a total loss.

The BIG restoration of all is now also underway including Cameo #4. How do you transport four Cameos to major shows? Well, Scott quickly has the answer. You move them together like they did 50 years ago. In North Carolina he found a 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 tractor and later a 50 year old Anchor car hauler trailer. They fit together perfectly! Won’t that be the show of all shows? Stay tuned for a big future article with photos when all is complete.

Who said you were to sit back in your easy chair when you retired?

You can contact Scott by email at: keyman4885@yahoo.com

1959 Chevrolet Pickup Custom Interior

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

It is sometimes asked by restorers, ‘What is the correct fabric for a 1959 Chevrolet with a custom cab?’ Answer: The same cloth material was used on the top of the line seats and door panels throughout.

The following pictures show this interior material on a 1959 door panel in a 1959 Chevrolet custom cab with 12,000 original miles [see photo below], and seen on a page from the 1959 Chevrolet Salesman’s Data Book.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1959-chevrolet-don-1.jpg

It appears this material was used one year. Upholstery shops having left-over partial rolls may have this rare upholstery material in storage and not be aware of what it was used for!

1958 1959 deluxe interior 3
1958 1959 deluxe interior 2
1958 1959 deluxe interior 1

For the perfectionist, the following is a page from the 1959 Chevrolet Truck Data Book, printed September1, 1959. We thought you would like the real description from an original 63 year old book. NOTE: They consider the word “Custom” their very best. Yes the 1958 has a slightly different fabric appearance.

1959 Custom Interior Informational Chart PDF version. Click Here

1958-1959 Chevrolet vs GMC Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the new Fleetside bed design in 1958 the Chevrolets placed a chrome emblem on the bed side with the word “Fleetside”. However, GMC referred to this new bed as a “Wideside” to not copy Chevrolet. A Wideside emblem was never created, thus the GMC bedsides are without letters. (The horizontal bedside trim is a 1959 option).

(images by Ralph Wescot)
1958 1959 trim
1959 Chevrolet
1958 1959 trim 2
1959 GMC

GMC Ash Remover

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

There are few GM accessories that are more unusual and rare than this item that was seen at a recent truck show. It was offered by GMC dealers in 1958 and 1959.

The item is an “Ash Remover” for the smoking driver and his passenger. With a touch of a small lever, the ashes on a cigarette or cigar is instantly removed from the cab. A rubber vacuum line from the engine manifold pulls the ashes to a small glass jar on the engine side of the firewall Quite a novelty on trucks that were usually bought for work.

Was it worth an extra price over a stock ash tray? Probably not but it appears some found owners. At this time at least two are known to exist.

Even when other “Ash Removers” are seen, they will not be recognized if they have lost their original box. Very few will know what these parts are made to fit.

images by Ralph Wescot

ash 1

ash 2

ash 3

The King

Monday, February 8th, 2010
The King ATHS Logo
Its the annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society. This year, 2010, it is in Pleasanton, California. Over 700 trucks of all sizes and makes gather at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.In a far grassy corner is a  sub group of local early GMC owners. Most seem to be acquainted and use this show as a reason to renew old friendships. There are few “trailer queen” trucks in this group, just dependable daily drivers. Most owners know how to repair the occasional problems that are a part of driving a 50 year old truck.

A crowd begins to gather late afternoon on the second day of the convention in this GMC truck cluster. The attention is not so much on the 1958 GMC stepside 1/2 ton with its Pontiac V-8 plus three factory two barrel Rochester carbs and correct large air filter. The interest is on the contents of the bed.

Here, only heard of by most GMC enthusiasts, is a real inline 302 cubic inch six cylinder engine from the late 1950’s! It has all the aftermarket high performance options of 50 years ago. It sits on a special frame with no body panels obstructing the view. All is there to touch and feel.

The owner is John Christ of San Francisco, CA. He has built this 302 just like it would be for racing in the late 1950’s. John located a new engine about 5 years ago and since has been hunting GMC speed parts so he could build it just like the race track engines of 50 years ago.

This is the first time the 302 has been seen by the general public and almost never had John tried to make it start. He had planned for this moment at the ATHS convention for a long time.

As the crowd grew and watched, the battery beside the engine was connected. The small nearby temporary gas tank was attached to the fuel line. The foot start linkage was pressed by hand and engine began to turn. It does not start and fuel drips from line connections. Yes, John has a good size fire extinguisher.

A water pump drip is not repairable at the show but John climbs into the truck bed with the engine to stop fuel drips at joints and makes several other adjustments. He tries again.

The engine belches flames from the human skulls covering the Stromberg 97’s. Still no action. More adjustments are needed.Now the engine fires a few times. With no exhaust pipes this may get loud!!. John has a friend push the starter linkage while he turns more screws and then off it goes. It is running on all six and the sound is probably heard through most of the convention. Its almost like it is saying, “Where’s the race track?” Applause was heard from many in the crowd when they are not covering their ears. The King
A few of the items John has collected over the years makes this 302 just right:- Venolia Pistons, These very light weight aluminum racing pistons raise the compression ratio to 9.5 to 1. John had them custom made for this engine. Yes, premium fuel is a requirement.

– Howard intake manifold. Allows the use of five Stromberg 97 carburetors. The progressive linkage uses number 2 and 4 carbs when driving normally. Carb. 1, 3, and 5 are waiting to operate when speed is necessary. Fuel economy, are you kidding!

– The engine was totally balanced to prevent any vibration at higher RPM.

– The bee-hive oil filter beside the block cools the oil as much as it cleans it.

– A 40 year old Wayne valve cover and side plate are almost impossible to find. They  have never been reproduced for the GMC engine.

– The special high volume aluminum oil pan is a necessity when racing on the track.- Fenton headers. These lessen back pressure. Exhaust gases leave the engine much quicker under acceleration.

– A highly modified camshaft is a must! Getting more fuel and air into the combustion chamber adds to the available horse power.

A stock 302 GMC six cylinder with this equipment is why so many small town dirt tracks had to ban vehicles using truck engines in the 1950’s.

The local hobbyist racing a car engine couldn’t win a race against a built up 302. They wouldn’t spend the money to register if a high performance GMC was allowed. To keep the dirt track’s popularity, a sign was often posted “No Truck Engines” but secretly it meant no 302s.

The King
The King
John Christs’ future plans for his 302 is placing it in a recently purchased 1940 GMC pickup. It may be an easy drop-in but this little truck will have a real awakening when its time for performance! John can be contacted on the club website at www.oldgmctrucks.com under the name Big bad swing daddy.
The King The King The King