A Muscle Truck with a Message – Finish Line’s 1949 Chevy Advance Design Pickup
One of the top regrets we’ve heard from truck builders from all over the country is not taking the time to properly research the perfect shop to help with their project. Every one of us each has our own criteria of what we’d like from a business that caters to our trucks, but all too often we settle for the closest or the cheapest or have fallen prey to a wayward shop owner’s cheesy sales pitch. Not every establishment is out to cut corners or rob you blind. In fact, there are just as many (if not more) great shops than there are bad ones out there. If you look hard enough and take the advice of friends and other trusted members of your community, you too can find a dependable ally in the custom auto world—trust us.
For those living in the Pacific Northwest region, there’s a special place you should know about (if you don’t know about it already) that is tucked away in Bremerton, WA called Finish Line Speed Shop. This family run spot headed up by Lyon McClenahan, his wife Jennifer and their custom loving kids Masey, Josh, Colby and Brody can help out with small jobs to full auto restorations. It truly is one of those “for hot rod guys, by hot rod guys” types of places you’ll be comfortable leaving your precious car or truck with knowing darn well that Lyon and crew will treat it like it’s their own.
Opening up a family business does sound great and all, but it doesn’t come without its unique set of challenges, which Lyon is all too familiar with. He left his comfortable job of 20 years to start building dream cars for people in his community. While that does sound like a dream, he was very aware of the uncertainty that lurked at every corner. Luckily, the young business caught on quickly, and is now quite successful but that didn’t happen without a lot of hard work and dedication to their customers. “Even though our shop did achieve quick success, it still felt like there was something missing from what we were doing”, Lyon states.
The Finish Line family figured out what that “something” was in 2015, as they dedicated themselves to utilizing their talents for the betterment of others. “We called our endeavor Project Giving Back”, Lyon says with much pride. “For the last five years, the shop has built and debuted a new vehicle at SEMA that was geared to raise awareness for those in need.” In the past, Finish Line has completed vehicles to spotlight the needs of disabled veterans, and those suffering from A.L.S (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), as well as cancer. The previous builds have all received much praise and attention, and for 2019’s project, Lyon selected a ’49 Chevy 3100 pickup to help spread awareness for Parkinson’s Disease—a great truck model choice to represent a great cause.
A plan of action was set to begin work on the ’49, and the final results were meant to end up with a very streamlined, yet stylish two-tone pickup that encapsulates vintage aesthetics while taking full advantage of modern amenities. Lyon enhanced the factory frame with a front Mustang II independent suspension upgrade, 2-inch drop spindles, QA1 shocks all around, and Air Lift air bags to give the truck the ability of adjustable ride and park height. A rear 2-link setup and Currie Ford 9-inch rearend give the truck a truly memorable ride quality that will shred equally well on the streets or the autocross track. To finish out the chassis, Lyon redesigned the braking system to keep up with the ultra responsive suspension with 14-inch Summit Racing cross-drilled and slotted rotors, along with a CPP master cylinder and booster. The Flaming River rack and pinion steering package doesn’t hurt either.
All that suspension underneath the truck wouldn’t do much good without equal parts muscle under the hood, which is why Lyon selected a tried and true LS power plant to provide the brawn. The engine was topped off with additions from a FiTech Ultimate 500HP EFI package to a dual Black Widow exhaust system, and lots of performance components in between. Combined with the truck’s newly renovated suspension, the entire driving experience was about to get much more exciting—guaranteed. “I have owned racecars for most of my life”, Lyon admits. “I have also owned auto repair businesses and been professionally involved with hot rods and trucks for the last 7+ years—this is the kind of stuff that really gets my creativity going.”
Addressing the truck’s exterior, Lyon and crew turned to Nate Wood of Apex Collision and Classics to massage the old metal to prep it for a proper and much needed paintjob. Ron cooked up a custom color combination to get the dark green just right, and then selected a deep jet-black hue to give the truck a vintage-inspired, two-tone styling. United Pacific Industries provided updated LED lighting with their head and taillight selections, and Chevs of the 40’s was sourced for a pair of running boards to finish off the look just right. The BedWood oak planks were stained black, cleared and paired with polished stainless strips to make for a truly unique bed floor that complements the ‘49’s dark exterior.
The interior was next to be redone, and Lyon didn’t skimp out on quality or style inside the cab. Dakota Digital gauges provide the truck’s vital signs while an audio system concocted of a Custom Autosound head unit and Kicker speakers and amps gave the truck yet another facet to be impressed by. Vintage Air A/C keeps the temperature cool, while fresh suede upholstery makes for a plush seating situation. Other extras like the Eddie Motorsport steering wheel and United Pacific Industries rear view mirror all work nicely to boost the appearance inside the refreshed cab space.
While the Finish Line guys did get an early jump on this build, the last few days leading up to SEMA ‘19 proved to be nothing short of action-packed. “No matter how much of a head start our team gets, there hasn’t been a SEMA project that we didn’t wish for more time”, says Lyon. In the end, the ’49 made it to the bright lights of Vegas with a new lease on life, as well as a message of positivity and a plea to refocus attention to the individuals and families dealing with Parkinson’s. “This is our 5th addition to our Project Giving Back series of builds, and in 2021 we will be unveiling a ’68 C10 to help highlight suicide awareness, which we are looking forward to promoting next year.”