Jim Connerley’s ’65 GMC Captures Classic Instruments 2018 Trophy Dash Grand Champion Crown
There’s nothing like keeping a vehicle in the family, and it’s especially meaningful when you can keep that vehicle more than 50 years.
Jim Connerley’s father bought this ’65 GMC stepside pickup new. Dad was a hard-working, back-to-basics type guy, and the pickup reflected that – no radio, and very few options. A heavy-duty mechanic by trade, he used the truck as basic work transportation, hauling tools and equipment in the bed as needed.
Like any good piece of equipment, this one stayed in service for decades. Jim bought the pickup from his mother in 1983, keeping it in the family. When it finally came time for an overhaul, Jim knew he had to do it right to honor his father. Enter Lee’s Vintage Car Shop in West Sacramento, California. Jim commissioned the shop for a complete custom build, with a goal of keeping the truck simple and clean, but in a true custom style.
The build began with a complete custom chassis from Scott’s Hot Rods, outfitted with Wilwood disc brakes and a 9-inch rearend. A 600hp Vortech-supercharged LS1 engine was added for power, backed by a 4L80E transmission. Body-color American Racing wheels put the power to the ground.
While the pickup body retained its basic stock shape, it was cleaned up with shaved emblems, tightened gaps, hidden tailgate latches, and ’37 Ford taillights. The brilliant bronze hue is a custom-mix color using PPG Envirobase materials, complemented with pinstriping and gold leaf accents by Dillon Proctor. A custom oak floor finishes the bed.
Inside, butterscotch-hued vinyl by Jack’s Upholstery in Woodland covers the bench seat and door panels, while Vintage Air keeps the temperature comfortable. The Pioneer audio system includes a backup camera, and Jim steers using a LeCarra wheel atop a tilt column. The modified dash is beautifully complemented by Classic Instruments Nostalgia VT Series gauges – a five-instrument set with an added boost gauge.
After more than 50 years in the Connerley family, this classic GMC is looking sharper than ever – and more fun to drive than Jim’s father could have ever imagined! Its hard-working days are over, and now that finely finished bed is reserved for hauling home awards like the Classic Instruments Trophy Dash honor.