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Off the Reservation

by Ryan Benedict

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Ask just about any car guy out there, and they will tell you about that first vehicle they saw that hooked them. There is that one particular car or truck that stands out in their minds; the one that lit that fire, that is burned into their memory banks, and is often at the top of that infamous list of “cars I gotta have.” 

For Zack Mahan of Center, Texas, the 58-59 Chevy Apache body style is the one at the top of that list. He recalls that he was about 14 years old, working somewhere in East Texas with his father, when he first saw a 58 or 59 Apache with a “for sale” sign, and absolutely fell in love.  The quad headlights, abundance of chrome trim, and cool 50s lines instantly grabbed him. Unfortunately, the truck was sold before he could ever even hope to save enough to buy it. He knew, though, that one day he would have to have one.

Fast forward 25 years, when Zack’s brother called him about a run-down Apache he spotted in an old man’s back yard, not more 20 miles from Zack’s house. It was not running, and was missing a few parts, but the body was in great shape for a 60-year-old truck. After some haggling, a deal was struck, and Zack finally had an Apache to call his own.

After getting it home, Zack began to lay out a vision for the future of truck. Being the owner of Zack’s Tint Shop, a window tint, suspension, and truck accessory shop, he is definitely no stranger to custom vehicles. It was decided that this Apache would be the flagship of his fleet of vehicles. Although Zack and his team deal with custom trucks on the daily, he knew he would have to outsource work to achieve the end goal he had in mind. He contacted his longtime friend Johnny Oates of Pomp’s Rod Shop, and together they devised a plan to build a hotrod shop truck as a billboard for Zack’s business. 

Once the truck was Pomp’s, the truck was stripped down to it’s bare bones. The chassis was boxed, 4-linked, and fitted with Airlift and Accuair components, all of which is suspended by custom tube framework, before being sprayed a subtle satin black.  A 1980 Camaro front clip was grafted in up front to replace the truck’s antiquated straight axle, and a narrower rear axle helps to make sure the Detroit Steel wheels are swallowed up under the short fleetside wheel arches when the truck is laid out.

The exterior of the truck is in incredible shape for its age, and the wear and tear of the paint helps to tell stories of the truck’s history as a farm truck. It is evident that the prior owner used it to haul hay, equipment, rolls of barbed wire, and anything else that may have needed moving. Johnny and Zack agreed that they could not have painted it anything better than what Mother Nature had already done to so expertly tell the story of this truck, so the exterior of the truck was left intact. 

Under the hood, though, was another story. Since the goal was a driver-quality truck, the original engine was gutted in exchange for the now industry-standard LS swap. The new engine remains relatively stock, but was freshened up with some headers, intake, and other polished accessories before the Painless wiring was all tucked neatly away out of sight. Johnny and his crew shaved the firewall of all the unnecessary things, before coating it all in an antique white to match the wheels and grille. 

The interior was in the shape you would expect an old farm truck to be in, so everything was removed to start from scratch. The rusty floors were patched before being completely sealed with Stinger Roadkill and fresh carpet. The faded and blistered paint on the dash and door skins was left as-is to keep that “farm truck feel.”  New side glass and gaskets got the doors closing well and sealed up tight. All new Painless wiring, Dakota Digital gauges, Classic Auto Air, and some stealthily hidden Kicker Audio round out some of the amenities inside. Since it was destined to be an actual driver, as well as a shop truck for Zack’s shop, an Indian blanket was used as a cover for a late model bench seat.  

The bed remains relatively stock in appearance, with the exception of the widened wheel tubs and glass-smooth poplar boards. All of this is bordered by polished stainless-steel strips, which allows the center of the bed floor to tilt up at the press of a hidden button, revealing the detailed chassis underneath. There, Pomp’s Rod Shop paid extra attention to help keep a clean and tidy appearance. Some of the air management can be seen under the trick bed floor, as well as Custom bent hardlines, bead-rolled panels, and more satin black paint, which helps to keep that streamline look. 

While Zack will admit that the truck build may have gotten a bit out of hand for “just a shop truck,” he quickly counters that the truck came out better than he could have imagined, thanks to Johnny at Pomp’s Rod Shop. Zack and his crew are used to handling everything in-house for their vehicle builds, but this is one may be one time where going “off the reservation” proved to be the best thing for this Apache.

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