There are many ways to own a classic ride.


You can inherit a classic or you can go to an auction or follow ads and buy the results of someone else’s sweat equity.


The best way is to apply your own sweat equity to a project because the personal investment of time is not only priceless – it’s cost efficient.




Bill Larratt chose the personal effort route with this incredible 1951 Chevy custom convertible truck. This is a first class build and he did it the old fashioned way with hard work.


Bill is modest about his show-stopping classic Chevy truck but this is a rolling work of art.


Every project has a beginning and Bill explained how this one started: “The first time I built this was 16 years ago and my daughter had it but she gave it back. I thought this one needed some freshening up”.




“Freshening up” is a relative term when the topic is a conversion from a fixed roof ’51 Chevy pickup to a convertible top custom but Bill is an understated guy.


He explained the process:I got the roof from a neighbor who was into this stuff so I widened it 16″ and lengthened it 3″. Not many of these trucks are done as convertibles but I’m also trying to keep it as traditional as possible”.


That may be the understatement of the year but Bill’s truck went well into the spectacular range with its new roofless look.




Bill even built a tonneau cover for this incredible custom. The roof itself was fairly complicated as Bill recalled: “He had to create the top and he hauled me up there about two or three times just to get it right”.




The power train is a fairly straightforward combination with the bulletproof 350 coupled with a 350 transmission so the reliability factor is a given. Bill was extremely happy last spring with his inaugural runs in the newly-built ’51 Chevy truck: “It drives really nice; I have a few miles on it now”.




These Chevy trucks can be dialed in fairly quickly because their popularity means a number of problems have been solved by simplified retro-fit procedures and products but losing the roof adds another dimension to the complications.


This one has been relatively flawless for Bill and his wife as he explained: “There’s been no bugs so far”. Bill’s confidence in the truck meant he could start planning a few trips last spring: “The first show and shine went well and I want to put as many miles as possible on it. We plan on going to the Spokane Goodguys show too”.




That trip did happen in the summer and the truck performed like a champ on the road.


The ’51 Chevy was given back for a reason but Bill is the kind of guy who likes to map out a game plan: “I’m trying to respect my daughter’s wishes on this truck because she’s eventually going to get it back”.




There is no doubt this ’51 Chevy is a world class custom so Bill’s daughter is going to reclaim an appreciating asset in a major way but the secret to success on this project is not summed up in money.


It’s summed up in raw talent. Bill explained how it worked: “The only way I could afford this is by being hands-on”.




That’s what talent brings to the table.


Jerry Sutherland

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