In baseball terms, a "five star" player represents the crme de la crme of his profession. Those select few that can be grouped into this exclusive category can hit for both average and power, outrun a thoroughbred race horse around the base paths, and have a howitzer attached to their throwing arm, all while having incredible defensive savvy in the field. In the automotive world, a "total package" performer must incorporate mind-bending acceleration with Spiderman-like roadholding capability. The exterior and interior packages should set said automobile apart from the masses without crossing the line into gaudiness. And Gary Svecki's '88 Chevrolet Silverado shortbed pickup truck virtually defines the term.
Svecki, who owns and operates Performance Paint and Body, in Torrance, California, was looking for something truly special when it came to the Fleetside. The anemic factory powerplant was discarded in favor of a heavily breathed-upon 5.7-liter Tuned-Port mill. The addition of a 3.750-inch stroker crankshaft has increased total engine displacement to 383 cubes. A mild hydraulic roller camshaft now props the upgraded 2.02-inch intake valves inside the iron cylinder heads. The big-inch Tuned Port was further enhanced by a Vortech S-Trim supercharger system. The Silverado splits time between street cruiser status and Performance Paint propaganda tool, necessitating the addition of the deep three-stage Candyapple Red clearcoat that now adorns the body panels. Rolling stock is a combination of Budnik Prism 17-inch alloys wrapped in BFG rubber, with a Bell Tech drop spindle/spring package to give it just the right stance.
The mondo-modified drivetrain and eye-popping exterior proved to be a stark contrast to the Bow-Tie's mundane factory interior, however. "The interior was the only thing left on the truck that was even close to stock. I wanted a customized look to the interior that would compliment the rest of the package. At the same time, it could not be gaudy or overdone," Svecki said.
Enter Willie Sopher of Willie's Upholstery. Sopher's handiwork has been behind countless award-winning custom interiors at the center of a wide variety of vehicles, including numberous modified VW Bugs and trucks.
"There were just too many painters and mechanics 15 years ago when I got into this," says Willie," and there just was not that many ways to be creative without a million dollars invested in tools and such."
"When it came to the Silverado, (Svecki) basically handed me the reins," Sopher related," and gave me the 'go' to do what needed to be done." Consequently, Willie wasted little time in stripping the factory seats, dashboard, center console, and door panels from the Fleetside's interior.
"The new seats are actually base model buckets out of an '89 Silverado that I added custom pleats and recovered in a special gray interweave tweed." High on Sopher's list of priorities was eliminating the factory door panel's bulky power window and door lock controls in favor of a more streamlined, three-dimensional look. A special superstructure fashioned from a combination of wood, Bondo, and water-repellant neoprene was integrated into the production panel to create the desired effect. The dashboard and center console presented fit and clearance issues as well.
"I had to make sure the end gaps and spacing remained consistent throughout," Willie related.