Jim ‘Wrench’ Guthrie has grown well-accustomed to the same old question asked by the spectators who see his 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup. Most wonder incredulously, ‘Is the truck completed?’ While the vehicle may not have the glossy mainstream look many owners would opt to take, Jim has built for himself a unique ride that he’s more than happy with and one that suits his needs perfectly. And to answer those inquiring minds of folks who think they may be seeing a half-completed project, Jim has proudly placed a sticker in the rear window reading, ‘It IS finished.’
Don’t let the rough around-the-edges appearance fool you; this bowtie packs plenty of modern and high-tech goodies under its rusty, primered body. “After all the work we’ve put into it, it drives and handles just like a Camaro, or even better. Driving it is a pure high – it’s an old truck that feels brand new,’ said Jim.
He went on the hunt for a vintage hauler in 2009. “I’ve always had race cars but my wife wanted a simple old truck. Even now, she’s usually the one that drives it to the shows and cruise nights.” The vehicle was found in rural Iowa where it had pulled years of duty as a farm truck. Those days of slogging through muddy roads are long over as the truck now packs a suspension that is built to grip the street. “We’ve updated the frame and suspension and installed four-wheel disc brakes. It sits on the ground but get it on the highway and it’s just beautiful the way it goes down the road,’ said Jim. Staggered wheels aid in the mean stance; 17-inch are mounted up front with 20-inch wheels in the rear. Powering this Apache is a late-model 350ci V8 mated to a 700R4 transmission with overdrive. “We’ve done a little camshaft work and updated the serpentine belt and brackets and what not. Not too much but just enough to bring the performance up a bit,’ said Jim.
The exterior metalwork on the body was left alone just as Jim found it but for added reliability and comfort, all of the weatherstriping and glass was replaced. “The body has that ‘rat-rod’ look and really shows some off years of accumulated weathering and texture”, said Jim. That same great patina carries over into the spacious cabin where a bench seat from a Chevrolet Suburban has been installed. A tilt steering wheel aids in entry and exiting while additional gauges let Jim keep a watchful eye on the powertrain vitals.
The project came together in three year’s time and from the start, Jim had a clear focus on the outcome. “I’ve always been a hot rod kind of guy but because of wanting time with family, I just didn’t want to be constantly working on stuff. My goal was for this truck to be maintenance-free and something that wasn’t needing constant attention.” Look below and you’ll see the whole frame and underside has been powdercoated to ensure years of trouble-free operation. “We’ve put over 3,000 miles on it and have a real good time with it. We enjoy the people that we meet and everywhere we go, it’s very well-liked.”
It won’t come as a surprise that Jim doesn’t have a single future build plan for the truck. “Here on out, we’re leaving it as is. We meet new people who come up and ask, ‘When are you going to paint it? Or do this or that to it.’ Our reply is always, ‘Never. It’s finished.’”