When you’ve been working on vehicles your entire adult life, you’re bound to get pretty damn good at it. Well, at least, Andres Gonzalez of Henderson, TN made the most of his time spent in the garage. With the 30-plus years of experience under his belt, there’s not a whole lot he can’t do himself. As long as he has the right parts and tools, as well as the required patience on any given day, there hasn’t be many obstacles that have slowed him down much at all in that time.
Wanting to turn his hobby and passion for turning wrenches a legitimate method of making a living, Andres started his very own shop – Blue Steel Customs. With steady control of the helm, he is now able to navigate his way through building advanced suspension systems, custom metal fabrication, body and paintwork, and a whole lot more. “This is what I’ve been doing my whole life”, Andres says. “Blue Steel Customs is my outlet to take on projects for paying customers as well as personal builds when I have the time.”
About four years ago, Andres did have the opportunity to take on a custom truck build for himself, and he made sure to take full advantage of it. “I came across this ’49 Chevy pickup for a deal I couldn’t pass up”, he says. “I have always wanted to build this type of truck and I was able to get this one for a great price since the seller did not have a title to go along with it.” Not one to pass up a bargain, Andres sealed the deal on the Chevy and brought it back to his shop where he proceeded to thoroughly clean it out – this is when he discovered the title hiding in between the sheet metal. “It was an amazing surprise for sure!”
Since the day Andres purchased the ’49, it wasn’t a complete truck. It was just missing parts here and there that would have to be replaced somehow or another along the way. “We were thinking of making her into a rat rod, but we had a really hard time finding fenders”, he admits. “My wife ended up buying me new fenders one year for Christmas, and from that point, we decided to go totally custom with it. This began our four-year journey with the truck that my daughter, Sam, named Lucy.”
Underneath the truck, Andres ran with an ’84 long bed S10 frame that would actually serve as a great base chassis. His plan was to customize and load it up with a full air ride suspension – something that S-Series builders have been successfully doing for years. The frame was quickly outfitted with ‘two-inch drop spindles, ‘bags and QA1 shocks at each corner, and a rear four link system that Andres actually found on eBay. He then made his own pan hard bar for the setup and wired up an AccuAir e-Level air management system to allow for ease of operation at all times.
Wanting to upgrade the wheels without going too big, Andres went with a two-tone black and milled set of 20-inch Fuel Off-Road Maverick wheels and continued to cover them in all-season Michelin rubber. Behind the wheels are Wilwood braking components to help slow the ‘49’s roll when the time comes.
Andres wasn’t thinking too much about slowing down at this point, however. He was looking to beef up the Chevy’s performance in a major way. To assist on this front, he contacted Alan McCorkle at The Horsepower Factory in Henderson, TN. Together they agreed that the ’49 would be a great candidate for an LS power upgrade. Alan secured a load of go-fast add-ons for the ‘04 engine and began the tear down and reassembly process. “The trickiest part of the work under the hood was working with the turbo setup and plumbing the intercooler tubing”, Andres says. “Once we got it all figured out, the ideal fitment we ended up with was well worth the extra work.”
With the ’49 rounding the corner to the finish line, Andres began toiling away getting its panels smooth, straight and prepped for paint. The color of choice wasn’t set in stone until Andres laid his eyes on a particular shade of gray – 2018 BMW Frozen matte gray that sold him on finalizing his decision. The color fits the demeanor of the Chevy truck perfectly, especially with the blacked-out grille, bumpers, mirrors and running boards. The truck’s forward illumination is made possible by Oracle LED headlights, while the rear features BSC’s very own LED billet taillights to turn heads while stopping traffic behind it. A few more additions in the way of dual operational hood vents and a one-off, full-tilt wood bed floor makes for custom touches not often seen on just any pickup of Lucy’s class and age bracket.
Inside the cab, Andres was looking to incorporate all the similar design elements that made for such a striking outward appearance. He added his own personal touches to the custom bead roll door and floor panels, along with the cleanly installation of the Vintage Air climate control system, Dakota Digital gauges, late-model seats and all required wiring to make for a fully function cockpit.
In an attempt to build a truly killer truck for himself, something that not all shop owners have the time or willpower to do, Andres now has a show stopping ’49 that he can drive anytime while having a real scale physical example of the quality of work Blue Steel Customs is capable of delivering. Lucy’s completion didn’t exactly happen overnight, but the end result is definitely daddy and daughter approved.
Andres Gonzalez • ‘49 3100
- 2004 LS1 6.0L
- 4L80 transmission
- Engine work by Alan McCorkle at The Horsepower Factory, Henderson, TN
- Camaro water pump
- 16-inch electric fan
- Champion radiator
- Powermaster alternator
- Holley valve covers
- Bosch fuel injection
- Speedway Motors ignition
- Stainless headers
- Custom exhaust by Blue Steel Customs
- Borla muffler
- Driveshaft by Wiles Welding & Machine Shop, Jackson, TN
- 1984 S-10 frame long bed
- 2-inch drop spindle
- Custom air ride system
- QA1 shocks
- Rear 4-link system
- Custom Blue Steel Customs panhard bar
- AccuAir air management system
- Ford 9-inch rear end
- 20-gallon aluminum fuel cell
- 20x10 and 20x12 Fuel Maverick wheels
- 295/35 and 345/30 Michelin tires
- Wilwood braking components
- Jegs master cylinder 1.125 bore
- Blue Steel Customs pedal assembly
- 2018 BMW Frozen matte gray paint
- Oracle headlight
- Blue Steel Customs taillights
- Classic Parts exterior parts and accessories
- Dakota Digital gauges
- Vintage Air A/C
- Door panels, carpeting and upholstery by Blue Steel Customs
- Kicker speakers, subwoofer and amp