They say we live in a wonderful time. There’s a global humanity shift: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, unmanned vehicles, gadgets etc… Conservatives complain that in this rampant progress humanity and self-authenticity are lost and everything artificial is valued no less than the real things. If zoomed into customizing, it turns out that everything developed in a similar way. Each season surprises us with increasingly more radical projects and insane technical solutions. Nevertheless, critics complain about the lack of builder’s imagination, accusing them of “giving up to fashion and copy-pasting” that rule the industry nowadays. But one cannot exist without the other: any quality project relies on trial and error and unsuccessful compromises. The GAZ F153 pickup is an excellent example.
2010, the foundation stone of the long build: a mid-size 1978 Chevrolet Malibu frame was purchased. The 5.3-meter D-Class sedan, being disassembled for spare parts, didn’t exactly suspect about its upcoming rebirth into a pickup with a Soviet truck cab. The V8 Oldsmobile engine that came on the frame along with an automatic transmission were dead and couldn’t move the pickup: their state was unknown, and maintainability was questionable. We’ll return to this later, but for now the main thing is that the garage was packed with a GAZ-53 cabin and some sheet metal – the way to creativity was opened!
Original GAZ 53
Adjustment of the cabin to the frame required a proportional tapering of the front end and a front fender size adjustment. In addition, the rear arches needed to be 8 centimeters wider to fit a set of Cragar Drag Star wheels instead of the steelies that were installed prior to them. The rear wheels were fitted into fat 255/60 R15 tires. At this stage Egor first turned to the help of professional customizers. The execution of works, directed by a metal-shaper (more like a metal fabricator to us) Dr. Watson, whose workshop made the pickup reach its first material embodiment, began. He helped identifying and correcting the stylistic errors. During this time, the mechanical part of the car was put together. The frame was reinforced and refined to install the battery, air suspension components, the exhaust system and most importantly – the new engine. Yet another 5-liter GM V8, but a more modern and common one. It was accompanied by a four-speed auto from a 1992 Chevy Caprice. The engine also got a new Edelbrock carburetor intake.
Late 2015, all the parts were cleaned, primed and painted in a Soviet color called “green linden”. Since the engine block, gearbox and heads were cast iron, they were fully sprayed to preserve the styling. Another six months later, the sandblasted frame grew some running gear on it and even without the body it looked like a worthy project. Now there is not a hint of dirt or rust on it: all elements are either new or carefully restored. Finally, in August last year, Egor completed the assembly of his GAZ-F153. Control dials and buttons took their place in the interior, crossed seats with door trims and some accessories from across the ocean.
Now all that is left for Egor is to get aesthetic pleasure from the achieved results, conceived 8 years ago. Could this journey be shorter? Of course, yes, but inevitably sacrificing quality and agreeing to a lot of compromised solutions and incidentally, crossing the line between professional customization and homemade crap. It’s a good thing that Egor took the long road and achieved what he was striving for with his project.