1955 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup: Shades of the Past
Words by guest author Steve Anderson | Photos by Todd Ryden
Legend in the Making: Josh Bailey’s Shades of the Past
There’s no mistaking greatness in the making, whether it’s the cars we love or those who shape them. While some develop faster than others, anyone familiar with Josh Bailey knew his creative path was accelerating almost from birth.
The Bailey’s, along with Bobby Alloway and other notable car enthusiasts are responsible for growing Pigeon Forge into one of the finest local hot rod events anywhere. Not Surprisingly, Josh garnered a broad and unique understanding from this rich environment of vehicles crafted by the top car builders in the nation.
As a result, Josh developed a special skill set, and while honored as one of the top high school graduates of his region with various scholarship offers, he chose to forgo college and take another road. Following the path paved by his skilled father by building one car after another, he received a wide-ranging education.
Working side-by-side with top craftsman at Alloway’s Hot Rods for nearly twenty years, Josh has gained capabilities others can hope to glean, while still expanding his understanding with dad building cars of their own. Best of all, Josh hasn’t lost his humility or quiet country ways.
Josh and Joe began shaping this subtle ’55 Chevy 3100 short bed stepside pickup early 2014. Even up close it’s hard to see myriad modifications disguised beneath PPG Surf Green and India Ivory hues reflecting the trademark Bailey subtlety.
For instance, the front fenders were cut and lowered above the wheel openings, which were moved down and back to center the wheels, and yet even trained eyes can overlook these changes In back, the bed rails were widened, the stake pockets removed, and the bedsides pushed inward three inches to negate the need for wheel tubs around the fatter traction. In the end, the only sheet metal added to the bodywork is in the tailgate and the front bed panel behind the cab, yet this too is all but invisible.
A custom shroud was fabricated over a cross-flow radiator to conceal a stock 20-inch four-blade fan, while Josh’s custom Jet Hot-coated headers unite with his 2.25-inch mandrel-bent exhaust system benefiting from Porter mufflers. The Chevy orange GM 350 crate engine is bolstered by an MSD ignition, while subtle highlights mirror in the vintage Cal Custom valve covers. To keep a modest 260 horsepower at hand, an M-20 Muncie four-speed was chosen to stir the gears amid an aged feel that is right at home.
The stock frame benefits from Classic Performance Products’ 3-inch dropped axle and 3-inch lowering springs, as well as front disc brakes to keep motion in check. To bring the backside on plane, a flip kit was added to reposition an S-10 4×4 rear end with 3.42 gears and drum brakes. Up front came a natural choice of Coker Classic 6.70/15s tires and 15×6 steel rims offsetting larger L78/15s on 15x8s centered with simple dog dish caps.
The interior is pure nostalgia. Two-tone black and India Ivory dash fitted with rebuilt vintage gauges ahead of a ’59 Impala wheel top an original column shortened seven inches over a stock steering box. To make the most of a Hurst shifter, Josh reworked the handle to his liking, placing it perfectly to his seating position on the ’55 Del Ray patterned seat covers from Cars Inc. Fitted by Pro Stitch’s David Corn, the same care was applied to the adjoining panels and carpet completing this ideal environment.
As impressive as it is, it’s this pickup’s back story that elevates it, as it’s been in the family ever since Joe’s uncle A.J. purchased it back in 1972. Twenty-five years later it was passed down to his son, then his grandson, before the Baileys brought it full circle, building on the past.