El Guapo

by Fuelish Media

Ric Maestras’ Home Grown 1958 GMC Rust Bucket

Vintage pickup trucks each have their own soul and personality. While some are scrubbed down and spit shined, others like Ric Maestas’s ’58 GMC are kept looking naturally/ruggedly handsome – exactly how Mother Nature styled them over time. Every truck has a story to tell if you just take the time to pay attention. A friend of Ric’s gave him the heads up about the GMC being for sale in New Mexico, so of course he had to go out and trailer it back home to Arizona. It had been non-operational for nearly 45 years at that point and was just waiting for someone – anyone to whip it back into roadworthy condition. 

Ric was pretty jazzed about bringing the ’58 back to his home shop, which affectionately goes by the name Home Grown Rides. He saw the truck as a blank canvas to show the type of work he specializes in, which is putting ’55-’59 GM trucks on the ground. This specific truck was absolutely perfect for what he had in mind but dig this – after only 6 months of owning the truck, Ric ended up selling it to one of his customers. Yes, he did regret the decision almost immediately, but what could he do? We all make mistakes, but luckily Ric recognized the one he made quickly and did everything he could to get the truck back. “The new owner wasn’t very happy about it and was reluctant to hear me out”, Ric says. “In the end, I had to trade a ’58 Chevy Cameo to get it back, so here we are.” 

With the ’58 back in his possession, Ric made a vow to spend some real work in with it this time around but between working on a constant flow of customer work, as well as having a full military commitment, time was not something he had a lot to give. Luckily, with the help of local AZ legends GSI Machine & Fabrication  he was able to put a full custom chassis under the GMC, and have it decked out and nicely accessorized with the assistance of Jason Berland at Arizona High Test. 

The factory frame was first outfitted with GSI’s front and back half sections in order to get the low height Ric was after. Front boxed control arms and CPP modular spindles were used to get the front end down, while a custom 4-link brought the rear closer to the ground. Arizona High Test is known for their artful hard line work for both air and fuel lines, so of course their talents were tapped to finish off the air ride system, as well as the LSX that would soon be planted under the hood. 

Oh yeah, Ric couldn’t settle for just any Big Block for this truck. First chances are often blown, but he was sure he would take this second take as far as possible. A brand-new crate engine from Chevrolet Performance Parts was ordered and soon dropped into place. The 454 is lethal fresh out of the box, but the need to top it off with premium aftermarket parts was just too strong to fight off. Ric even included a nitrous bottle in the mix for when he’s feeling frisky behind the wheel. At this point, he figured ‘why not?’ Wouldn’t you? With an estimated output of 620hp to the wheels with 600-lbs-ft of torque, there’s plenty of power to play with and make the most out of the killer GSI chassis. 

Ric reached out to The Specialists in Tucson, AZ to customize a Snowden bench seat and make two comfortable buckets out of it. Brand new honey brown colored carpet was also rolled out for a cleanly appearance, as was a whole assortment of decorative hardware from the Budnik steering wheel, Speedhut gauges, billet shifter, and a booming audio system to soothe even the most savage of beastly moods. One thing was for certain; Ric was crafting this interior with the intentions of enjoying the heck out of each and every upcoming weekend cruise session. If he was going to go through with the build, he thought it best to incorporate everything he had always wanted for this truck. 

While Ric might not always have time to put in as many hours in his own personal vehicles as he’d like, he did luck out and made the right connections with local AZ talent to get this GMC done. “This kind of work and enjoying the finished product is the best form of stress relief out there”, he says. Well, Ric had to be relieved just to be able to get his truck back. That old saying “you don’t know what you really have until it’s gone” couldn’t have proven to be more true than in this specific case. “I knew I shouldn’t have sold a truck with such perfect patina like this one, but it’s back where it belongs. Seeing people’s reaction to the truck and hearing how much they like it makes me realize that the attention just wouldn’t have been the same with any other truck.”

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