There’s something truly special about a project that’s conceived and constructed by just a single person. The work may be difficult and exhausting, but the pride in showing it off and enjoying it when it’s all finally done is more than worth it. Thirty-seven-year-old Pennsylvania-resident Tim Casey knows this well, as is evidenced by his home-built 1954 Chevy 3100 half-ton pickup truck.
Tim is a lifelong gear head, recalling childhood memories of wrenching on cars with his dad. That passion stuck with him, and kindled a desire to build something uniquely his.
“I’ve always liked the ’47 – ’55 Chevy AD (Advanced Design) trucks, but never liked the original state of them – slow and riding rough,” Tim tells GM Authority. Although Tim liked the classic Chevy design, he wanted something that was fun and fast, something that could be driven and used regularly, all with modern technology under the skin. “I wanted a truck that I didn’t have to be scared to drive, or worry about checking the forecast on my phone, or worry about every scratch or ding.”
After selling one of his other cars to raise funds for his dream truck, Tim found this particular 1954 Chevy 3100 in May of 2018. It was a one-owner truck, bought new in Maryland, where it had stayed all its life until Tim brought it home.
Tim couldn’t help but be a bit nervous about the project he was about to undertake. “I don’t have a garage big enough to work in, and this would have to be tackled outside in my driveway. I have never tackled a complete restoration.”
Nevertheless, Tim dove in head first, intent on doing all of the work himself under a folding 10 by 20 awning.
For the bodywork, Tim repaired the Chevy 3100’s rust to “make it look like an Arizona barn find,” replacing the front floors, outer and inner cab corners, and front lower cowls. He also patched up the bed and tubbed the rear.
The bed now incorporates composite wood with aluminum strips, while the corners mount Ridler 695 wheels measured at 18 by 8 inches in front, and 18 by 9.5 inches in back. Tire sizing comes to 225/45ZR18 in front and 255/45ZR18 in the rear.
Tim also added his own stencil to the Chevy 3100’s doors to make it look like an old shop truck.
Inside, the cabin was equipped with a reclining bench seat from TMI, plus new carpeting, a new headliner, new kick panels, new door panels, and new glass. There’s a 32-inch tilt steering column and Hurst short-throw shifter, Dakota gauges, and a Volante leather steering wheel as well. A RetroSound radio, back-up camera, and Dynamat add to the comfort side of things, while a clutch and brake pedal assembly from a Subaru WRX provide controls.
Under the hood, Tim’s Chevy 3100 runs a fuel-injected LS V8, specifically the 5.3L Vortec LM7 from a 2003 GMC Yukon. Summit Racing exhaust manifolds, custom motor mounts, and a GM Muscle Car oil pan were also added, while a custom engine harness makes it work as intended. The ‘eight feeds an NV3500 five-speed manual transmission, and breathes through a home-built custom side-exit exhaust.
To make it ride like he wanted, Tim also modified the Chevy 3100’s frame and installed a Mustang II independent front suspension with coilovers. The rear gets TCI parabolic rear leaf springs.
Given he was doing all the work himself under an awning in his driveway, Tim originally expected his Chevy 3100 build to take two years to complete. Incredibly, he managed to build this impressive machine in just five months.
“I worked on this truck only on weekends and holidays,” Tim tells GM Authority. “Worked on it Friday nights after work until dark, all day Saturdays until dark, and all day Sundays until dark, rain or shine, 100-plus degree weather to 20-degree weather.”
Indeed, Tim is proud of his Chevy 3100 – and he should be.
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