A First Timer’s 1949 Bow Tie
“I developed a love for the 1949 Chevy truck at an early age”, says Mark Lynch, owner of the killer ’49 seen here. “I visited a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania with my family every year, and the farm would use a beat up ’49 to transport the trees from the fields to your car. I remember dreaming of owning a truck just like that someday – and maybe even starting my own farm.”
Well, there is no word if Mark has chased down his dream of entering the Christmas tree market, but he has since locked down the truck that he has wanted since he was a kid. Now, it might not be the exact truck that was used at the tree farm he once visited, but it is the same year and make, and in far better condition. “I located this truck on the Streetside Classics website”, Mark says. “I didn’t really get a ‘deal’ on it, but it was the exact model I wanted, it was in great condition, and was restored to original ’49 condition and functionality.”
While all that sounds like the conclusion to Mark’s story about finding his dream truck, it’s really only the beginning. While the Chevy was clean and functional, it just wasn’t a perfect fit for him. “I found the truck uncomfortable to drive”, Mark admits. “So, I sought out a team to rebuild the truck to hit on my targets for a classic pickup with modern form and function.” Vintage vehicles do have their unique charm and all, but Mark planned on driving his truck as often as possible, so there were a few tweaks that he just couldn’t live without.
To help get the Chevy right where Mark wanted, he reached out to Switch Suspension of Mesa, Arizona to give it all the necessary updates. While the truck looked as good as could be, the ride quality left much room for improvement. While riding on ‘bags wasn’t an avenue Mark was interested in perusing, coilovers were the only other sensible direction to go. But the guys at Switch didn’t just plan on pulling a simple switcheroo with a few suspension parts – no way. What they had in mind was an all-new frame from Roadster Shop. The Spec chassis came complete with Wilwood spindles, Fox coil-overs at each corner, and a parallel 4-link at the rear to give the truck a much more responsive and cushy ride quality, which is ultimately what Mark was concerned with.
As exciting as the suspension overhaul was for Mark, it was equally rough on his nerves. “I found the most challenging part of the rebuild to be my own patience”, he admits. “I am a self-employed contractor and am used to having control over a fairly predictable schedule, and this experience proved to be the exact opposite for me.” While the progress on the chassis was steady, it just didn’t come together overnight. To ease his mind and move his attention elsewhere, he began shopping around for a fresh set of wheels and tires. To give the truck that old school aesthetic with an updated appearance, he landed on a set of 20-inch US Wheel smoothies complete with Nitto NT555 G2 tires with white walls added by Diamond Back Classics. Even with the much larger diameter size, the combination looks right at home on the ’49. With Mark becoming more comfortable with the idea of being patient with major changes on his truck, the motion of building a much newer engine for the truck was put into high gear. For this phase of the truck’s updating, the crew at Speed Sports, in Gilbert, Arizona began cooking up a healthy 5.3L LS seasoned with a 4L60E automatic transmission for the ultimate in cruising comfort. The engine was kept on the modest side of modification, but just the addition of a modern performance engine to a truck as old as Mark’s is a huge gain on all fronts. From more power and reliability to rumbling sound and excitability, there’s just no losing when it comes to an LS injection underneath the hood.
To keep up with the direction the ’49 was heading, the truck’s interior was next to be tended to. Leather and suede upholstery that’s complete with black and blue double diamond stitching was used to update the bench seat. To add a bump to the cab’s entertainment value, a complete audio system featuring a Retro Sounds head unit, and Rockford Fosgate speakers and amps was wired up. Battling the sometimes unbearable heat Arizona is well known for, a new Vintage Air A/C system was next to be installed so Mark could be cruise his truck comfortably all summer long. For a well-rounded, polished appearance, a Billet Specialties steering wheel and Dakota Digital gauges were included to the list of upgrades inside the cab, which now feels much more inviting and easier on the senses.
The approximately 12-month rebuild was a mixed bag of emotions for Mark, but once the dust settled, and the truck was ready to burn rubber, he couldn’t help but look back to where it all started. “While the build did serve double duty as an advertising opportunity for our business, the ultimate excitement I’ve received from this process is ending up with the keys to my childhood dream truck”, he says. “I am so thankful for the time and effort the team at Switch Suspension put into the truck. The moment I pulled out of their shop once the chassis swap wrapped up was a very memorable moment for me – it felt like a new truck, and the stance was truly something I was proud of.”
With his dream now a reality, you can bet Mark will be whipping around town in his freshly remodeled Chevy pickup as often as possible. His story is a hybrid of “built” and “bought” that now fits him like a glove – proof that there is no right or wrong way to drive the truck you really, really want.