Built Not Bought: Patina’d Paint Hides Boosted LS Performance for This Slammed 1953 GMC!
Don’t let the worn-out exterior fool you – beneath the weathered surface of this 1953 GMC truck lies a powerful drivetrain paired with all the right components.
The patina movement has become one of the most intriguing aspects of hot-rodding. It branches off from the rat-rod culture, but it primarily focuses on maintaining a high build standard everywhere on the vehicle except for the body. The body is often left untouched, showcasing the effects of Mother Nature’s relentless weathering. The concept of a patina’d finish on a hot rod, characterized by faded paint and small dents, emerged due to the high cost of paint jobs. Car enthusiasts chose to embrace the weathered look of their vehicles, and it quickly gained popularity. Nowadays, builders search for cars and trucks that possess just the right amount of wear and patina. While some attempt to replicate this look artificially, it never quite captures the authentic appeal of decades of natural aging.
Chris Girard has been tinkering with hot rods since the age of 15 when he purchased his first truck. He developed a deep passion for the creative process of using his hands to bring vehicles to life. As he grew older, he became enamored with the Chevy 3100 trucks and their GMC counterparts. Girard recalls, “The truck’s flowing lines and simple design really caught my attention. While scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon this GMC 150 all the way in northern Idaho. There was something about the patina on this truck that captivated me. I loved how it displayed its history through each dent and layer of paint.” Girard knew that this was the truck for him, so he swiftly arranged the funds and soon enough, the 1953 GMC was on its way to Alabama, transported by a carrier.
This part of the story resonates with many of us. When the truck arrived, it wasn’t exactly what Girard had envisioned, and above all, it wasn’t his creation. As Girard told HOT ROD, “It was a simple, hastily assembled build, featuring a basic 350 small-block, a small rearend, pieced-together factory systems, and let’s not even mention the wiring and air suspension.” Nevertheless, it was drivable, which was a positive, but after a test drive, Girard parked it in his workshop and completely disassembled the GMC.
For the next 18 months, Girard dedicated every spare minute to fabricating, welding, painting, and designing various aspects of the truck. His friend John Calvarese stepped in to assist with crucial welding tasks, and another friend, Matt Cole, served as a sounding board for ideas. Apart from that, Girard single-handedly built the entire truck, and yes, it was quite challenging. Girard explains, “Building the truck alone and having to learn everything from welding floor pans to powder coating was a rewarding experience. The fact that I constructed this truck with my own hands instead of purchasing a completed one is a success I will always cherish. While replacing all the truck’s systems, I had to engineer or fabricate numerous components since there are very few off-the-shelf parts available for this particular model.”
Regarding the build itself, most of the original components that came from Idaho were either discarded or sold, leaving Girard with a weathered shell as his starting point. He desired a boosted LS engine, so he sourced a 6.0-liter iron block, combined it with ported GM 243 heads and a custom-grind Comp cam. Atop the long-block sits a Holley single-plane EFI 4500 split-design race intake. Boost is supplied by a Work Turbochargers