THE TRUCK AND ITS OWNER: 1958 Dodge D100 custom pickup owned by Robert Spadavecchia
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: Up to the mid-1950s, pickup trucks were usually marketed as drab work vehicles that were distinctly different from their automotive counterparts. Then, in 1955, Chevrolet broke new ground with its Cameo, a pickup with car-like design details, extensive chrome trim and more comfortable interiors. Ford responded with the passenger-car-based Ranchero and the Styleside pickup. Chrysler went even further to create the Dodge D100 Sweptside by grafting station wagon fins onto the truck’s rear quarter panels. Produced from 1957 to 1959, it was expensive to build and pickup beds were considered too narrow for everyday use. Because few have survived, Spadavecchia decided to create a custom version of his own by grafting 1957 DeSoto fins onto a standard D100 pickup.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT: Since December 2010
WHERE HE FOUND IT: “Both cars were purchased through a friend who has a part-time home in Arizona,” he says. “They were rust-free and delivered to his home. We flew out in January 2011 and cut the quarter panels and bumper off the DeSoto, loaded them into the pickup and shipped it to Long Island.”
CONDITION: “It was an old, ratty stepside pickup that needed to be restored,” Spadavecchia says. “The Sweptside look was a priority after I saw one on the Internet.” He also installed a 1957 Chrysler V-8 engine, a Chrysler Torqueflite transmission, a Mustang II front end with power steering, an air-bag suspension, and a new interior, gauges and glass. He narrowed the rear end to accommodate 12-inch tires. “The color scheme is the stock color scheme for that year, with pearl to liven up the colors,” he adds. Moldings and graphics were professionally airbrushed. Many of the parts, including mounts, brackets and the fuel cell, were fabricated by hand.
TIPS FOR OWNERS: “Aftermarket parts are hard to find,” Spadavecchia advises, “so knowledge of welding and fabrication is a must if you want to keep costs low.”
VALUE: Spadavecchia estimates he has put $18,000 into the truck, excluding his four years of labor. An actual 1958 Sweptside sold for $66,000 at a 2013 Las Vegas auction.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Enthusiasts do a double-take when they see Spadavecchia’s creation. “I get a lot of head-turning with the ‘deer in the headlamp’ stare,” he says. “Old-timers like myself pick out the DeSoto quarters.”