When you found what you determined to be the perfect project car or truck, did you immediately know that it was the one? Maybe you had to think about it for a while? Charles Austin knew right away that this ’59 pickup was destined to be his next project, as he tells us, “A few years back, the whole family went to Centerville Dragway in Arkansas, this is where my dad use to race when he was still alive. When we pulled in to the strip, I saw this truck for sale. I have always love this body style and always wanted one.”
Charles continued, “My oldest boy liked it, but he was a few years away from needing a ride. All day, he was giving me a hard time and said I wouldn’t buy it. I eventually talked with Wayne, the track owner about the truck and told him I wanted to buy it. We also discussed the fact that I’m not mechanically inclined, and the possibility of him building the truck for me.” When the discussion ended, Charles purchased the hauler with the plan of building it for his oldest son.
The ‘59 was built in a shop at the dragstrip, which is about 1-1/2 hours from where Charles lives, but when not working at either of his two jobs, he and his son would go to the track and spend time helping in the shop to complete the truck. Originally, the truck had a 270ci six cylinder with a column shifted three-speed transmission. The engine needed rebuilt, but Charles realized he could get a crate engine for about the same cost, so the straight six got the old heave hoe. Charles confirmed, “I purchased a new 350 crate engine, and we put a five-speed transmission that was sourced from an S10 behind that”
The truck had no seat, so Charles and his son started hitting salvage yards and they found a seat in a later model GM truck that would work. The seat and seat belts were installed, and some old signs were used to cover the sparsely present bed floor.
The tires were in great shape when Charles bought the truck, but, his son wanted to make a simple change as Charles told us, ” He wanted the tires flipped so the white wall was visible. He also wanted black wheels with chrome lug nuts. I figure that if he later changes his mind on the look, he can change the color of the wheels and add beauty rings and center caps if he wants.”
Charles finished by adding, “The wife and I wanted a standard transmission in it so all three of our boys can learn how to drive a manual shift vehicle. When my oldest gets a little more practice driving, he should be behind the wheel soon. He is so busy with school, track/cross country, and a job, he will have to get some time in this summer. I like the patina look, it is all real. I don’t plan on painting it, and I am going to leave it up to my son if later in life he wants to get a paint job on it.”
With Wayne Styles’ (the track owner) help, disc brakes were added to the front, and a rearend from a Ford Explorer was installed which gives the truck four-wheel disc brakes. Charles admits that he is not the handiest guy, but is thankful that Wayne (the track owner) for all his help and guidance.