Bill Donaldson’s Revengeful ’57 Pickup
Anyone who has had something stolen from them, especially a vehicle, is familiar with a very specific batch of mixed emotions that goes along with this offense. Anger usually presents itself very early on, which then subsides to feelings of victimization. From here, the levels of anger can either skyrocket or transform into something completely different—something much more positive and productive. Obviously, it’s much better to strive on landing somewhere in the latter category for the sake of moving on and rebuilding, but every case will differ.
Bill Donaldson, of Gilbert, AZ, once found himself in this unfortunate predicament, but was luckily enough to make the best of the situation. “My dad had given me his work truck, a ’57 Chevy pickup, when I was only 12 years old”, he remembers. “I spent all my time and money on that truck until I went off to school at Arizona State in 1981 when I was 17.” While Bill was out in the world doing all he could to better himself while at college, the truck that his father gave to him was stolen from their own garage. Instead of letting the selfish actions of whoever was responsible for the theft get the best of him, Bill simply accepted what had happened as well as the feelings that soon sprouted. “I truly believe this was the beginning of my ‘illness’ with regards to these old Chevy trucks, since then I have always did what I could to have one around.”
In the 90’s, Bill had a very slim budget for anything more than the essentials, but he found the funds to build another ’57. It wasn’t anything crazy, very simple with a small block and an automatic transmission. It was nice enough but it didn’t fill the void quite right, so Bill sold it soon after it was back on the road. “It really would take a special truck to replace the one that once belonged to my dad, and after doing some more hunting, I did finally find one that proved to be worth getting excited about”.
The truck in question was yet another ’57 Chevy pickup that Bill tracked down in Hollywood, CA. The year was 2010, and even though he had some experience with being let down with his last project truck, this next one also proposed its own set of potential problems later down the line. “The truck was complete, bone stock, and in good running condition with the original 235ci motor and 3-speed on the column”, Bill recollects. While this part of the story seems to be shaping up to be a good start for the new truck, the first speed bump showed itself, and proved to be a rather large one to overcome.
“Having been unsuccessful with three previous shops, (I actually had to rescue it in pieces from one of them since they hadn’t paid the rent for their shop), a good friend of mine, ‘Little Dave’ Buehler introduced me to Mike and Randy Way at All Ways Hot Rods in Phoenix in late 2013. These guys have been amazing to work with, and have helped ease all the previous pains I’ve experienced with trucks in the past”.
Mike and Randy have had to overcome a lot of obstacles that came with the previous drivetrain, body and chassis fabrication challenges with Bill’s latest ’57 pickup, but it wasn’t anything that they couldn’t handle.
“Things would’ve been much easier if I didn’t insist on including a big block and gears into the new equation, but it was something I really wanted to happen this go-around”, Bill admits. The engine in question is a 2019 model 540ci stroker from Raylar Engineering in San Diego, CA. The 400hp rating and 550 lbs-fit of torque is more than enough for Bill to have a good time with, and the Tremec 5-speed transmission better suits his driving style over the previous factory 3-on-the-tree setup.
Bill also wanted to see the truck with a lower stance with heightened handling and agility prowess, and the guys at All Ways Hot Rods were more than happy to oblige. A package from Flat-Out Engineering, which included Corvette C4 front and rear independent suspension kits, along with Aldan American coil-overs gave the old Chevy truck new legs that would soon be capable of just about any type of road conditions that lie ahead. Completing the Chevy’s new stance is a set of modest 17×8 and 17×10 Billet Specialties Legacy 2 wheels, along with fresh Toyo rubber to make for stylin’, road contact on the streets or track.
Another Arizona native, Kory Bender was soon recruited to join the team by performing the necessary bodywork to the truck’s surface, along with conducting some of his own custom tricks to give it the look of a true street machine. One of Kory’s magical moments happened when he coated the planks of oak used in the bed floor with candy and clear coats for an unbeatable glossy, protective surface. While we’re on the topic of paint, Kory also cooked up a custom blend of burgundy colored paint to treat the rest of the Chevy’s reworked surfaces. The finished product is an exterior that will most definitely stand the test of time in terms of styling as well as durability.
All Ways Hot Rods wired up a killer sound system inside the cab, and Armando’s of Hemet, CA handled the expert upholstery work that consists of supple cream colored leather seating, door paneling and fresh carpeting that perfectly contrasts the deep burgundy paint found on the dash. The new interior environment is ultra conducive to Bill’s next big plan, which contains nothing less than driving his new truck and enjoying every minute behind the wheel.
After seven years of patiently waiting for this truck to be completed, Bill now has the truck he feels has been due to him ever since his dad’s truck was abruptly taken away from him. “Everyone involved in this project of mine has played a big role in making my dreams a reality”, he says quite triumphantly. “The bottom line is that I dreamed of and designed a truck that drove at least as good as it looked, and now I have that with the help of some very talented people I would be lucky enough to work with again.”