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Right Brother

by Scott Mason

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Some people collect wooden nickels or old Kiss records. Kerry Cooper collects dusty vintage cars and trucks. At last count, he had 29 in his growing menagerie of Detroit iron. Some may ask “Why?”, while others vehemently proclaim, “Why the heck not?!” Sometimes a fella goes looking for treasures, sometimes they follow him home.

As Kerry tells the story, “I went to buy parts for my ‘57 fleetside at a man’s garage in the hill country of Austin, Texas. The seller had a Cameo sitting in his yard and I instantly fell in love with it. However, he wasn’t offering it for sale, nor did he have any intention of selling even after I made a substantial offer. As we talked some more, he warmed up to me and turned me on to one of his friends who actually had a Cameo for sale. He told me that his buddy had used the Cameo as his daily driver until he parked it in 1979. He got his friend on the phone and we met up later that afternoon so I could see his truck. I fell in love for the second time that day. We struck a deal, and I became the owner of a new-to-me ‘58 Chevrolet Cameo Apache with fantastic, original patina.”

W rolled up on Kerry’s Cameo at Lone Star Throwdown earlier this year. He and his buds were doing what you do at LST – making BBQ, tossing some cold ones, and having fun. We stopped to check out the ‘58 and we quickly struck up a conversation. Seems this was the very first show outing for the Cameo. “I built it to drive. It’s got plenty of power and rides and drives like a dream.” In fact, he drove the truck up from his home in Humble, Texas, about an hour away from the show in Conroe. 

“I love this truck to death! Most people look at it and have no idea what they’re looking at.” Heck, even a lot of enthusiasts don’t even know what they’re looking at. Chevrolet began producing the Cameo Carrier in 1955 as a premium, high line pickup, akin to a GMC Denali or Cadillac Escalade, if you will. It featured the first non-stepside bed offered by GM. As a way of getting their feet wet in fleetside production, Chevy produced the bed components from fiberglass composite using technology gained a few years earlier from their Corvette production line. Tooling up molds for fiberglass parts was substantially more cost effective than creating new stamping dies for sheetmetal. If the new design was a flop, the company’s losses would be less severe. A more safely calculated gamble.

As it was, the number of Cameo models produced was extremely low, with only 10,621 sold in the four model years from 1955-58. Legend has it that GM pushed back the 1958 introduction of their steel fleetside bed in order to sell trucks built with their remaining inventory of 1,405 leftover ‘57 fiberglass Cameo beds. When we talk about rarity, GM truck total production in 1958 was 278,615 units, with the tiny number of Cameo sales accounting for a mere .5% of that total. 

Kerry’s truck is a very rare sight, for certain. While restorers and purists covet and lust after these fiberglass-bed flagships, Mr. Cooper has blazed his own path to create a truck that stands tall in a crowd. And he enjoys the bejeezus out of it and drives it everywhere. That’s what it’s all about. Making memories, making friends, and creating experiences that will last a lifetime.

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Kerry Cooper • ‘58 CAMEO
  • 2008 6.0L LS
  • Machine work by Stallings Machine, Houston, TX
  • Assembly by Jones Performance, Splendora, TX
  • BTR Stage 3 camshaft, .630/.615” lift,
    229/244 duration @ .050”
  • Ported and milled 243 cylinder heads
  • FAST LSXR intake manifold
  • Holley Sniper 102mm throttle body
  • 1-3/4” headers, 2.5” custom exhaust
    with Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers
  • Taylor spark plug wires
  • Champion aluminum radiator
  • 4L80E transmission from Jones Performance
    with shift kit, billet input shaft, and RayBestos
    stage II clutches
  • Revmax 3200 RPM stall torque converter
  • 2×4 square tube chassis from Mondo’s Drop Shop, Houston, TX
  • Custom hard lines for brake, fuel, and air ride
  • Rear axle from 2005 Silverado with 3.73 posi and disk brakes, narrowed 6”
  • 2-link rear suspension
  • Heidt’s front suspension system
  • 2010 Chevy power rack & pinion
  • Firestone air bags, front/rear
  • Gabriel shocks
  • Performance Online master cylinder and billet booster
  • Ididit tilt steering column
  • 16-gallon fuel tank with Walbro in-tank pump
  • Raceline Classico wheels, 20×8 with 5” BS front,
    22×14 with 4” BS rear
  • 225/35ZR20 front, 335/25ZR22 rear tires
  • ICT Billet front accessory drive components
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • Rockford Fosgate head unit
  • 2 12” Kenwood subwoofers
  • Vintage Air climate control
  • Black leather with white diamond tuck stitching
    by RC Upholstery, Houston, TX
  • Paint and patina by Mother Nature

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