Follow the crowd: It is a basic philosophy for our stories at MSCC because we like to go where the people go at car shows.


A large gathering of people at a vehicle is an accurate measure of public interest in the car or truck.


In this case, the crowd had gathered around a custom 1949 Chevy pickup truck because this baby was a stunning example of hard work, patience, talent and imagination.


The result was an award-winning truck built by a car guy whose main career was saving lives as a firefighter.



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Owner John Scarcelli is a retired fireman who built one of the nicest custom post-war Chevy trucks we have ever seen at a show.


What made the truck even more interesting is the fact that John has owned the truck since his 16th birthday.


John’s dad gave him the truck as a gift so John could learn how to work on vehicles at an early age and put the Chevy back on the road. John started by adding a 4th wheel to the truck because it only came with three wheels.


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He drove the truck with its stock 6-cylinder engine for about six months before he began to form an ambitious future game plan for the truck. He added a nice set of chrome rims to the truck and his father questioned why he “put 200 dollar wheels on a 75 dollar truck.”


That improvement was only the beginning for John and his Chevy. Eventually he replaced the six-banger with a 409 and the game plan began to take shape for John and his ’49. 1986 was the start of big plans for the truck because John decided to cut the body to extend the cab on the Chevy and he had second, third and fourth thoughts about the idea.


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That’s why the actual surgery did not take place until 1995 and it took a month for John to work up the courage to cut open the cab.


John knew he could destroy the truck if he made a mistake and he would subsequently lose a big part of his life history with the loss of his 16th birthday present. Things went well and John created a 1949 Chevy extended cab custom with considerably more cabin room and comfort.


The truck sits on a 1979 Chevy Suburban frame and the 409 is hooked up to a 700 R4 overdrive tranny to handle the 400 horses under the hood.




John lives in the Rocky Mountains, complete with steep hills, and he told us his Chevy “rarely gets out of overdrive” on the mountain grades with all of the torque provided by the famous 409 “truck motor”.


John has acquired an impressive set of skills since his 16th birthday and gives full credit to his body-man mentor for John’s custom work on the truck.




For example, John is proud of his fender flares because he learned how to massage metal with heat and the custom fenders are built from the original fenders (with no added metal). He learned how to stretch and work metal from an old school body work master.


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John and his wife have logged many miles in the Chevy since its completion and are used to all of the attention the truck gets on the road. John and his truck have come a long way since the day they first met on his 16th birthday.


It has been a great trip for both of them.


Jim Sutherland

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