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Daily Grind: an immaculate 1945 Chevrolet pickup

18 August 2015

NZV8 magazine isn’t just about fully modified vehicles — we also take a look at cool daily drivers too! If you’re passionate about it, and you drive it to work every day, we can showcase it. Today we talk to Peter Jordan, about his gorgeous 1945 Chevrolet pickup.

NZV8: Hi Peter, this is a beautiful looking truck you’ve got. How did you come to end up driving it daily?

Peter: My uncle owned it in the ’50s up in Kerikeri. He bought it new from the Paine Brothers dealership. I bought it from my uncle in 1967, so I’ve had it for 40-odd years. That was around the time of decimalisation — I paid 150-something for it; dunno if they were dollars or pounds!

It looks extremely well restored. Has it always been in such good nick?

I used the truck for two years — dumping rubbish for the panel shop I had up in Kaikohe — until it stopped getting warrants due to its rusty chassis. It sat in a shed on my brother’s commercial property in Kaikohe until he sold the property and I had to move it. When I got it to Auckland, I decided to rebuild it. When I first bought it, it sat under my uncle’s peach tree for 18 months. He started to give me a hand repairing it — we found another chassis — but then he died of pneumonia. So, I’m glad the rebuild has finally been completed, and to this standard. 

Being a panel beater, you would have been more than up to the task?

Yes, it was a seven-year rebuild, which finished in 2002, but it’s been done right. It’s all steel; there’s no synthetic fillers anywhere — bog, I suppose you’d call it. I hand-fabricated many of the panels, such as the running boards and the tray. I’m especially happy with the tailgate, which was fully handcrafted, right down to the “Chevrolet” lettering. The truck’s running on factory wheels, has all the factory emblems — including the “Paine Brothers: Whangarei & Kaikohe” plaque — and even has the original brass gauges. The refinished paint is straight off the gun, no cutting and polishing; all I’ve done is give it a wax coat every six months. 

How about the drivetrain — did you freshen up the running gear, too?

It’s all there — the original four-speed crash box and 3.55:1 ratio diff with factory torque tube, meaning the driveshaft is fully internal. The original motor was a 216ci inline-six “scooper” [splash lubrication, as opposed to more modern pressurized systems] which I’ve still got at home, but now it’s running a newer 261ci-six, which has been given a freshen up, and is a lot better for day-to-day driving. It’s been bored 40-thou over, has had a cam grind and heads ported and polished. It has a Mallory twin-point distributor and a two-barrel Holley carb.

Sounds good. It doesn’t give you any problems?

I drive it all year around — in winter, when it’s raining, etc. I built it to drive. It cruises as good as gold, too. Around 105kph, it drinks a bit of juice, but it’s got a sweet spot around 90kph that it’ll cruise at all day. I could go from here [central Auckland] to Rotorua on 50 bucks of gas. 

We did see you and your truck at the Pickup Round-Up down in Rotorua and Taupo — have you taken the truck on many long-haul trips?

I drove it down there from Auckland, and back up again. Since it was completed in 2002, I’ve done more than 42,000 miles in it. There’s about five of us in a little group — we all own pickups, and we meet up around once a month for a coffee and a cruise. We’ll decide what to do, and just go for it. We’ve been all over the place — Waihi, Bay of Islands, Opononi — so the truck gets about. It’s the sort of truck that, if I’m filling up with gas wherever, someone will come up and say, “My old man had one of these,” and so on. It’s got a few stone chips, and the grille has a bit of a dent in it from a stone that got thrown up into it, but it happens. 

Great that it gets used. Have you always been into the American car scene?

I wouldn’t really say so. I read Popular Mechanics years ago, and nothing too much has changed — for example, people were building ’32 Fords back then and they are still building them. Don’t get me wrong — they’re a grouse car — but it does get a bit boring. I’ve got a 1951 Citröen with an EL Falcon front subframe, 351ci-V8 and auto, and the independent rear from a Nissan 300ZX. It’s warranted and registered, and I’m just tidying it up — I like the idea of building something totally different, out of an idea in my head. 

Sounds different, all right! Thanks for your time, Peter, and we hope to see your truck on the road for many more years.