It's kind of hard to imagine any of today's "work" vehicles getting the customized makeover, just as it may have been almost half a century ago when models like Ray and Pat Astamendi's '58 Chevy sedan delivery were first produced. The average consumer in the mid- to late-'50s would have probably imagined such a thing, as too the hot rodders and customizers of the era. So how is it that it's not very shocking to see panel and sedan deliveries done up in such a non-resto fashion today? Simple: They're cool. Period.
Obviously, the Astamendi's '58 isn't running the old inline-six, doesn't roll on bias-plies, and surely isn't packed full with cast-iron pipe, lumber, or dairy products--that is, unless Ray or Pat choose to haul said items on any given weekend! No, this particular "utilitarian" vehicle isn't your average hauler, save for the occasion you find yourself being overtaken by the barreling red machine, haulin' down a particular Southern California freeway!
It's above-average freeway speed capabilities are due in no small part to the addition of two cylinders...a '90 Chevy 350 complete with aluminum heads, an Edelbrock 750-cfm carb, Rewarder headers, and engine brackets courtesy his son Michael at Protech Performance Products. Speaking of which, Michael played a big part in the custom resurrection of the delivery, which took just over two years to complete. The small-block, built by No. Hollywood's Lou Terrile, runs through its rpm band thanks to a Turbo 350 from Crabtree Automotive in Burbank. The suspension is mainly stock, though the addition of Superior dropped spindles, KYB Gas-a-Just shocks, and modified coils help bring the Chevy down over a set of 17-inch Coddington Impulse wheels adequately, as well as drastically improve the ride and handling characteristics. Ray added disc brakes for safety's sake, which also required the use of a Corvette dual-chamber master cylinder that was mounted off the smoothed-out firewall.
As for the body, both Astamendi's knew a few personal touches here and there would make all the difference in the world. For starters, the door handles were relieved of duty, then a frenched antenna was added, and grille, bumpers, and hood and deck emblems modified appropriately (by N&M Body, Salem, OR). Following that, Bob Money sprayed everything in PPG Performance Red, including the head and taillight bezels, with a little light blue pinstriping added for vanity's sake. Sittin' low, with just the right amount of chrome and polish, the delivery definitely looks ready for duty! But, there's more...
Finally, Ray had to have something special done with the normally Spartan interior if he was going to have this thing finished off right. In doing so, he had a '55 Chevy dash installed, complete with a custom insert (with Dolphin gauges) by Mike McGaughy. Prior to getting the new threads stitched, he called upon Mike once more, this time to install an Alpine sound system, string the Enos wiring kit, and hook up a Southern Air heat and A/C unit. The definite finishing touch, of course, was the work performed by Zuniga Upholstery in Northridge--try a full complement of beige and tan suede and leather, complete with accenting brown Mercedes wool carpet. An array of brushed aluminum accessories, half-wrap Lecarra steering wheel, and matched Juliano's seatbelts round out the very well rounded interior space.
Haulin' groceries or haulin' ass, Astamendi's delivery is surely a far cry from its intended purpose, that's for sure!