For Jason and Jim Smith of the Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, OK, the build of the award-winning 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Truck QuikSilver is like the tale of the prodigal son. QuikSilver, which pulled in $214,500 at a Barrett-Jackson Auction in 2016, is now in the hands of a private owner. But its path to that owner took several twists and turns until the truck won some pretty nice championship trophies and cash prizes.
The build was long in the making.
“We actually started with that truck back in the ‘90s,” says Jim Smith, who is a partner in the Hot Rod Garage with son Jason. “We did some foundation work, including the chassis, suspension and some of the sheet metal mods. It was roughed in and primered, but it could also roll because it had a suspension under it.”
Like many champion builds, the original owner ran short of funds for the project, and the truck that would become QuikSilver was shipped down to Texas in the late ‘90s.
Enter Alan Beers, a man with a dream.
“He was a big truck fan,” recalls Smith. “We became acquainted, and one day he came to us and said, ‘I want to build an early model truck; you guys keep your eyes open.’ So we had a casual conversation, and my son Jason and I remembered the truck we had started on earlier.”
The previous owner had the truck in storage, but hadn’t done anything to it. When the two Smiths and Alan Beers contacted the man, he agreed to sell it. So like the prodigal son, the truck returned to the Hot Rod Garage in a semi-fabricated, semi-finished state back in the late 2000s, according to Smith.
“So we all sat down, put our heads together, and came up with a basic plan on what we were going to do,” says Smith.
Work was progressing nicely and at a smooth pace, until Jason Smith and Alan Beers decided to visit the Detroit Autorama back in 2012.
“They had their eyes opened considerably at that Show,” says the elder Smith. “On the plane ride back, Alan turned to Jason and said ‘I think I would like to compete. Let’s step up this thing and go for it.’
“So with that we stopped again, re-thought it and in many cases actually started over with a clean sheet of paper,” says Smith.
In what has been called “one of the finest custom truck builds of all time,” by the folks at Barrett-Jackson, Jason and Jim Smith began an entirely new build.
Like many custom build by shops, “the biggest challenge we faced was not only getting this build done on time, but also not neglecting the other work that was coming through our shop as well,” says Smith. “During the height of this build, we probably had nine people out in the shop, juggling all the other jobs that we had to keep progressing on.”
QuikSilver is powered by a 540 Big Block Chevy that puts out an estimated 650 horsepower. The engine is fed by a Crower 8-stack intake converted to electronic fuel injection.
“We had trouble with the engine management system because it was an old vintage fuel injection system that was converted over to electronic function,” says Smith. “That didn’t go real smooth. But we got it sorted out and it ran reliably.”
The engine is mated to a Gearstar 4L60E automatic transmission. The exhaust flows through custom one-off headers to a custom three-inch exhaust with Stainless Works mufflers.
The truck rides on one-off 20- and 22-inch machined wheels with BFGoodrich tires, four-wheel Baer six-piston disc brakes with 15-inch rotors. The chassis is all custom, with a Fatman Mustang II front suspension, a machined four-link suspension, Ford nine-inch rear axle and Bilstein coilovers front and back.
To attain a modern look, every body panel has been customized or handmade. The firewall was smoothed and reshaped and the hood pancaked and reshaped as well.
“There’s even an inner liner to the hood,” says Smith. “If you open the hood, you’ll see that there are no ribs or seams; it’s just as smooth as the top.”
The top was chopped three inches, the cowl filled in and moved forward three inches. A newly fabricated windshield was installed, as well as custom back glass. The truck also features a narrowed and reshaped front bumper, custom-made grille with CNC grille bar, hand-built bed, tailgate and roll pan, and one-off taillight bar and full belly pans.
Inside the truck, the dash has been reshaped and fitted with a one-off gauge cluster, gauges, steering wheel, and gas and brake pedals. The bench seat, console, door panels and headliner were designed and handmade using 10 hides of smooth and perforated burgundy leather. The 1957 Chevy truck wears a Tungsten and QuikSilver coat using Sherwin Williams Planet Color paint.
The build was completed in time for the 2013 Autorama in Detroit, where QuikSilver finished among eight finalists for the prestigious Ridler Award. It would go on to become a Top Ten Choice at SEMA, a Goodguys Truck of the Year, and was a Barrett-Jackson Cup winner in 2014, among many other awards and prizes.
QuikSilver is clearly the high water mark for the Hot Rod Garage, in terms of its truck builds… at least so far. While it pulled in a handsome six figures at auction, and won dozens of large cash prizes during its career, was it worth the time and effort and the thousands of man-hours that went into the build?
“Like most builds, I suspect this was more about making a statement and creating something that was totally unique, rather than making a profit,” says Smith.
More like making a piece of art?