One Piece at a Time

Restoring a Classic

Neal Stearns has been in the car industry all his life, and always dreamed of restoring a vintage truck…especially one with the body style of 1947-54. That dream was recently realized when he completed this 1952 Chevy pickup truck.

He says a “friend of a friend” found it in a cow pasture in Gerald, MO. He bought it for $800 sight unseen. It took many letters to the state of Missouri, several trips to the Mo. State Highway Patrol Inspection Station in Jefferson Barracks and to Jefferson City and, and a 14- month legal process to get the title and licensing for it.

“The first thing I did was get it all sandblasted so I could even tell what body parts were rusty and needed replacing. Eleven body panels needed to be replaced…floorboards, cab corners, bottoms of the doors…and the rest sandblasted and reworked,” says Neal.

His wife, JoAnne, asked if he had a name for it and he said, “No, but I’ve got a song for it. You know that Johnny Cash song, ‘One Piece at a Time?’“

And so it went. One piece at a time…with a variety of parts from around the country. He purchased it in September 2016 and was able to make it drivable by April 2019.

“It’s got a ’78 Chevy Camaro front end suspension and engine, an ’87 Oldsmobile transmission, a 2003 Lexus differential under the back end of it, a Monte Carlo steering gear, and an S-10 Chevy front seat. It’s got an aftermarket heating and air conditioning system and radio. The paint is a custom color from a paint company in Georgia,” says Neal.

“When you have a truck like this, you’re never really done with it. You’re always changing, improving and fixing it. I want to be able to take it anywhere.”

The car has won awards in several local car shows, including First Place at JJ’s Restaurant car show in St. Charles last year.

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