Behind every truck build is a story of how it came to be, and Tommy Dora of Lubbock, Texas began his quest for this 1957 Chevy 3100 pickup back during his college years. While he may or may not have been fiscally ready to purchase and take on a project during that time even if he had found the right one, that never stopped him from looking. This wasn’t a new phase that he was going through or anything like that. Tommy’s affinity for this particular truck style began back when he was much younger, and the thought of owning his own never really went away – it only seemed to become more important to him the older he got.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the ’57 Chevy truck grille”, Tommy says about his lifelong fascination. “A friend’s dad had a ’56 and I just fell in love with the body style. It wasn’t until 10 years after that point in college when I found the one I was ready to commit to. I felt a combination of mixed feelings when the time came, but I felt that I was ready to take the jump.” Now, this was an interesting time for Tommy because he had just made quite a large commitment – to his wife Brooke. “She thought I was nuts when I told her that I was buying myself a wedding gift, but I assured her that one day it would be my hot rod that we could both enjoy with our family.”
The 3100 that Tommy found wasn’t perfect by any stretch. It was all there but it was in rough shape to say the least. It had a few rust holes through the sheet metal, and it had a ‘custom’ frame with a weird front crossmember, ladder bars and a very narrow 9-inch rear end. “I was already in the process of looking at every ’55-’59 Chevy truck being built online and in magazines to get ideas for my project”, Tommy says. “When the time came for me to start the process, I found myself talking to Jason Hill at Hill’s Hot Rods since they were local to me here in Lubbock. Not only that, but they also have an amazing track record that I very much wanted my truck to be a part of.”
Tommy showed Jason and his team the binder of inspiration that he had put together they then walked him through desired modifications he brought to their attention that are currently ‘cool’ and those that used to be ‘cool’. It’s always helpful to hear the truth straight with no chaser. After that initial chat, Tommy’s Chevy was officially put on the Hill’s roster of vehicles to receive their help. The first thing the guys wanted to see happen was to lose the truck’s modified (ahem, hacked up) chassis and replace it with an all-custom frame from Scott’s Hot Rods.
The process did take some time but once the chassis showed up, Tommy instantly knew it was worth the extra time and money. Coil-overs were to be used instead of airbags in the name of better performance and handling. Wilwood braking components were used to increase the Chevy’s stopping power. The 20×8.5 and 20×15 Raceline Contender wheels were chosen simply due to their superb styling. The tire selection was split between 235/40ZR20 Continentals up front with much wider set of 29×18.00R20LT meats at the rear. Just like that, the 3100 was well on its way to glory.
With the chassis and suspension system dialed in nicely, the guys moved onto the next part of the project that Tommy was already ahead of the game on. “The first thing I did before the project picked up steam was purchasing a big block 496 from BluePrint Engines”, he admits. “I told the guys at Hill’s that I envisioned it to be painted white, and it is now for the most part”. The portions that ended up white on the engine were the Billet Specialties valves covers, and custom air cleaner that was designed and built in-house, as well as the entirety of the engine bay down to the custom firewall and fenders.
Aside from these killer cosmetic details, the 496 has since been upgraded with a Champion Cooling radiator, Holley Sniper fuel injection, MSD ignition, and Hooker Headers that lead into a custom exhaust system designed by A&B Muffler and finished off by Coating Specialists, which are both located locally in Lubbock. The big block that Tommy picked up on his own ended up being an ideal addition under the hood. It dressed up nicely and performs as good as it looks with its 600 hp along with 568-ft-lbs of torque to get his Chevy moving.
Next up, the guys at Hill’s were ready to completely transform the 3100’s outward appearance with some super clean paintwork but first they had to address the truck’s blemishes as well as whip up some of their own original metal magic. Instead of attempting to save the original bed, a fresh and complete bed assembly from Mar-K was utilized but modified to create the desired effects. The corners were rounded off and the front upper panel was shaped before a custom tinted curly maple bed floor from BedWood was laid down to rest.
To add more one-off touches to the Chevy’s surface, the craftsmen at Hill’s then radiused the corners on the doors, customized the side steps, created inner fenders and a smoothed firewall, then pancaked and sectioned the hood from LMC Truck. LMC also provided new front and rear bumpers that were also sectioned and tucked before they were treated to a custom coated matte grey finish along with the rest of the trim pieces (including the wheels) that would soon adorn the truck. To contrast with that color, PPG Pure White paint was used on the entirety of the exterior, as well as under the hood for a slick flow of color. To top off the exterior mods, Tommy’s 3100 was then fit with custom cut side glass from Auto Glass Co. also in Lubbock, as well as a new windshield and rear big window from JR Distributor International.
When the time was right, Tommy then entrusted the craftsmanship of two local Lubbock businesses; Fisher Trim & Upholstery and JD Glassworks to help overhaul the Chevy’s interior space. The dash was shaved smooth, stuffed with brand new Dakota Digital gauges and covered in a custom pad made from amber colored ultra-leather. The Snowden custom bench seat and all one-off panels created for the cab were also covered in the same material for the sake of continuity. A Vintage Air climate control system was also included to provide Tommy with comfortable cruising weather all year long, and to keep his head ringing, a booming Kicker sound system featuring component speakers, four L7T 8-inch subs and 3 space-saving key amps have been wired together to do the trick.
Once the dust settled, Tommy and his family were presented with a completed Chevy truck hot rod that they could all enjoy together. “My kids are enjoying going to car shows and I love having the opportunity of spending fun times with them”, Tommy states. “Dax, my son was with me in Colorado when we received the Goodguys Truck of the Year early finalist – the same day Jason Hill was named GM Iron Builder of the Year finalist. My daughter Chloe also has many hours invested wiping the truck down and cleaning the wheels for the many events we’ve been too so far. This amazing experience has been worth the long wait, and I am thankful to everyone involved in making the project come to life.”
TOMMY DORA • ‘57 3100
- BluePrint Engines 496ci
- 600 hp / 568 ft-lbs torque
- Vintage Air water pump and alternator
- Champion Cooling aluminum radiator and fan
- Billet Specialties valve covers
- Custom air cleaner
- Lokar Performance dip sticks and breather
- Holley Sniper fuel injection
- MSD HEI ignition
- Custom exhaust by A&B Muffler and coated by Coating Specialists, both in Lubbock, TX
- Hooker headers
- Flowmaster 40-series mufflers
- Turbo 400 transmission
- Driveshaft built by Driveline Express, Lubbock, TX
- Custom chassis by Scott’s Hot Rods
- Coil-overs at each corner
- Rear 4-link, panhard bar and 9” rear end by Scott’s
- Wilwood spindles
- Wilwood brakes, master cylinder, & proportioning valve
- Summit Racing steering column
- Lokar pedal assembly
- 20x8.5 and 20x15 Raceline Contender wheels
- 235/40ZR20 Continental ContiSportContact front tires, 29x18.00R20LT Mickey Thompson rear tires
- PPG Pure White paint by Jason Hill of Hill’s Hot Rods, Lubbock, TX
- Mar-K complete bed assembly
- Custom tinted curly maple floor from BedWood
- Rounded off corners of bed w/ custom shaped front upper panel, radiused corners on doors, custom steps, inner fenders and smoothed firewall
- LMC Truck hood pancaked and sectioned
- One-piece side and windshield glass cut by Auto Glass Co, Lubbock, TX
- Rear big window by JR Distributor International, Montclair, CA
- United Pacific 7-inch crystal clear headlights with indicator
- Custom taillights
- LMC Truck front and rear bumpers sectioned, modified and tucked
- Snowden custom seats covered in amber ultra-leather by Fisher Trim, Lubbock, TX
- Custom built door panels and center console built and covered by JD Glassworks, Lubbock, TX
- Dorsett gunmetal loop carpet
- Dash shaved smooth w/ custom dash pad
- LMC Truck dash insert
- Dakota Digital gauges
- Raceline Contender steering wheel w/ audio controls
- Stinger Heigh10 head unit
- Kicker KSS504 speakers, (4) L7T 8-inch subwoofers, Key 200.4 amp and (2) Key 500.1 amps
- Vintage Air A/C
- FatMat insulation
- American Autowire wiring