Featured Vehicles / From the Summit Racing Catalog

The Real Deal: Dave Plickert’s 1949 Chevy Pickup

 
49 chevy pickup

With the huge amount of work that goes into building a custom truck, it’s rare to find a guy who can handle every facet of a build—especially paint. But Dave Plickert was up to the challenge.
“One tricky thing I learned about shooting flat paint is that it flows differently than traditional colors,” says Dave. “It took some practice, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I love the look.”

Dave Plickert’s garage hides a rare and exquisite treasure.

Squeeze past the beautifully resto-modded 1969 Camaro and the factory-fresh 1978 Corvette, slip by the classic Model A street rod, then tiptoe ever-so-carefully around his 1955 Chevy Pro Touring project, and you’ll find it: his tools.

With the considerable time and expense that goes into assembling the car of your dreams, taking the shop-built route has become an increasingly attractive option for enthusiasts. But that just makes Plickert’s collection of awesome, home-built rides even more impressive.

He’s clearly the real deal, and his latest creation—this 1949 Chevy pickup (which he humbly describes as “pretty nice”)—shows that there’s nothing you can’t do with some determination, resourcefulness, and a well-stocked garage.

“Growing up, I had to work on my car just to keep it running. It’s a bit of a lost art,” Plickert said. “I’ve been working on cars for a long time now, and I’ve always just learned by doing. Stick with it, and eventually you start to get pretty good.”

49 chevy pickup

For added protection against dents and dings, Dave finished the bedsides with ultra-tough Dupli-Color truck bed coating. And you’ll find a period-correct surprise stashed in the back—a genuine Acton metal Coca-Cola cooler bolted to the red oak inserts. What’s inside? Ice, soda, moonshine…you never know!

Plickert wasn’t strictly looking for a new project when the truck came up for sale, he said. He was already busy putting those well-honed skills to work on his ’55 Pro Touring build. However, the idea of adding a pickup to his growing collection of classic Chevys did have a certain appeal.

“The truck showed up for sale basically in my backyard, so I had to go take a look,” Plickert said. “The owner said it had been in storage for the last 30 years, and there were only 50,000 miles on the odometer. The bed was a little beat up, and it was missing the motor and transmission, but there wasn’t a spot of rust on it.”

And as anyone from the Midwest will tell you, that’s no small feat for a 63-year-old farm truck.

49 chevy pickup

That just-right ride height is provided by a Mustang II independent suspension setup in front, a 4-bar rear suspension of Dave’s own design, and coil-overs all the way around. “I just copied the setup on my ’55 because I knew that it worked,” explains Dave. “And it drives so nice,” he continues. “When you’re just rolling down the highway with the A/C cranked and the tunes on, it’s pretty sweet!”

While the truck looked solid, Plickert decided against taking it home that day, since he was already so heavily invested in the ’55. Instead, he and his wife, Julie, set out for a long weekend at Wheeling Island Casino for some much-needed rest, relaxation, and time away from that oh-so-tempting five-window pickup. But nobody could have predicted what happened next:

“She hit the jackpot!” Plickert said, laughing.

Suddenly Julie, a deft hand at the slots, had raked in more than enough cash to cover the cost of the pickup.

“And that’s when she turned to me and said ‘I think you should go get that truck,’” Plickert said.

A keeper, that one.

49 chevy pickup

Somethin’ ’bout a truck… Truer words have never graced a tailgate! Indeed, ever since Dave finished the project in 2014, reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. “This is probably the least amount of work I’ve put into a build, but it gets the most attention,” reflects Dave. “It’s nice to get so many compliments about the truck!”

Winnings in hand, Plickert returned for the pickup and didn’t waste any time getting down to business. “I had a pretty clear vision from the beginning,” Plickert said. “I wanted a sharp-looking truck that was really nice to drive.”

But before he could build it up, he started by tearing the Chevy down to the bare chassis, boxing the frame from front to rear, and then welding in custom crossmembers for increased rigidity. With the body removed, he took the opportunity to upgrade the truck’s ancient suspension system to a Mustang II-style setup in front (complete with tubular control arms), and a custom-designed 4-link rear fitted with coil-overs that were once a part of his ’55 project.

“I upgraded to air suspension in the ’55, so the coil-overs were just sitting around. Actually, a lot of this truck is built out of stuff I had in the attic,” Plickert said. “The motor actually came out of my Model A, and before that it was under the hood of my brother-in-law’s 1970 Impala.”

49 chevy pickup

Dave knew from day one that Summit Hot Rod Black was the right color for the pickup, but his wife, Julie, wasn’t so sure. “My wife made a deal with me,” explains Dave. “I could paint it black and leave it that way for a couple years, and then we could try something else down the line. But when she saw it roll out of the paint booth, she agreed that satin black was definitely the right color.”
We couldn’t agree more!

The small block (which had been in storage for years) was dusted off, bored over .030″, and now packs a host of performance upgrades, including ported and polished heads, a Summit Racing camshaft and hypereutectic pistonsComp Cams valve springs, an Edelbrock Performer carburetor and intake manifoldMarch Revolver serpentine system, and much more.

Plickert estimates the combination is good for 375 horsepower, which is pushed through a stock 700-R4 transmission and out to the posi-traction rear end salvaged from a 1988 Trans Am.

Plickert’s resourcefulness shows through inside, as well, where the truck sports a re-covered seat from a 1990 Chevy Cheyenne, plus a Vintage Air system “borrowed” from his ’55 project. And in a particularly inspired bit of budget-friendly engineering, he sourced his carpeting from the home furnishing aisle of his local big box department store.

“I needed to push back the truck’s firewall and modify the transmission tunnel to get everything to fit under the hood,” he said. “And that meant stock carpet wasn’t going to work anymore. So I found a black area rug that was nice and plush, took it home, cut it to fit, and glued it down!”

49 chevy pickup hot rod engine

It might look factory fresh, but this Chevy 350 has some serious history. Originally excavated from a 1970 Impala, it spent years running wild in Dave’s 1930 Model A street rod before being pulled and put in storage. And now it looks perfectly at home between the fenders of Dave’s pickup.
It’s received a complete rebuild, plus a full complement of performance goodies from Summit, Edelbrock, and more. And in spite of those shiny new parts, it still rocks the iconic Mickey Thompson valve covers from Dave’s street rod.

This no-frills approach to truck design continues outside with a silky-smooth coat of Summit Hot Rod Black paint, expertly applied by Dave in his own garage. Gleaming chrome from front to back, and a set of 16″ Smoothies from Wheel Vintiques complete the exterior transformation. While Dave is no stranger to automotive restoration, he elected to replace the grille and front bumper with reproduction pieces, as well as the bed and rear fenders.

“The original bumper and grille would have been perfect if you were going for the ‘patinaed’ look, but I wanted that chrome to really shine,” he said. “And I was originally going to repair the dents and dings in the bed, but I needed the truck ready for the Goodguys show in Nashville that year, and I was running out of time!”

But after a year-and-a-half of diligent work, the truck Plickert had originally passed on was ready to roll, and he’s been happily racking up the miles ever since.

49 chevy pickup

The interior has received several smart upgrades that transform this old farm truck into a cool and comfortable daily driver. Dave added a complete Vintage Air system, and then extended the lower dash for a factory look. And a Summit billet aluminum steering column, steering wheel, and pedals are not-so-subtle winks to his street rodding roots.
Other upgrades include a “new” bench seat from a 1990 Chevy Cheyenne, and Dolphin gauges embellished with the truck’s original trim rings for the perfect blend of old and new.

“I just built the truck so I’d have something fun to drive around,” he said. “It’s probably the least amount of work I put into any car I’ve built, but it gets the most attention.”

With the pickup completed, Plickert assures us that he’ll be focusing his talents back onto his Pro Touring project, now in its fifteenth year. And that’s great news, but we’re equally excited to see what other side projects might creep up along the way—perhaps a rat rod Business Coupe, or maybe a drag-prepped Nova?

You never know what might turn up for sale right down the street.

49 chevy pickup

Armed with decades of under-the-hood knowledge and a good set of tools, Dave transformed this long-neglected 5-window farm truck into something truly special—all in his home garage!
“I set up my garage in stages,” Dave explains. “When I’m building and fabricating I have my welder and cutting tools. When it’s time to paint, I wheel everything out, wipe everything down, and now it’s my paint shop. I save a ton of money doing the work myself, but I have about a gazillion hours of labor in the truck—but I’m proud of it!”

FAST SPECS

Chassis

Suspension: Mustang II IFS with QA1 coil-overs/custom 4-link rear with TCI All American coil-overs
Wheels and Tires: Wheel Vintiques Series 12 Smoothies(16” x 7″ front, 16″ x 8″ rear), Mastercraft MC-440 tires(205/55R16 front, 255/55R16 rear)
Brakes: GM front/rear disc brake conversion
Other Modifications: Boxed frame, custom crossmembers

Engine & Transmission

Engine Block: GM 350 small block
Cylinder Heads: Stock, ported and polished
Rotating Assembly: Summit Classic cam and liftersCOMP Cams valve springsSummit hypereutectic pistons
Induction: Edelbrock Performer 650 cfm carburetor and intake manifold
Ignition: Summit Ready-to-Run billet distributor and Musclecar Retro ignition wiresPertronix Flame-Thrower II coil
Exhaust: Sanderson headers, custom-bent 2 1/2″ stainless steel tubing, Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers
Transmission: GM 700-R4 transmission, TCI StreetFighter torque converter
Rear End: GM 10-bolt, Summit ring and pinion set(3.89:1)
Other Modifications: March Revolver serpentine systemMickey Thompson valve covers, Cadillac-style air cleaner

Body & Interior

Paint Color: Summit Hot Rod Black
Steering: Summit steering column and billet aluminum steering wheel
Gauges: Dolphin quad gauge set with custom trim rings
Other Modifications: Vintage Air SureFit air conditioning system with custom dashboard extension, red oak bed inserts

Special Thanks
My terrific wife, Julie, for her support and understanding throughout all of the builds!

Photography By: Todd Biss Productions
Art Direction By: Aaron Gray

49 chevy pickup

Looks like a winner to us!
Dave’s wife, Julie, played a significant role in financing the project, through her deft play at the slot machines. “We call the truck ‘Freeplay,’” says Dave. “Julie was using some free playtime she’d earned through the casino when she hit it big. And that’s when she turned to me and said ‘I think you should go get that truck.’”

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply