Jim "Wrench" Guthrie has grown well accustomed to the same old question asked by the spectators who see his 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup. Most wonder incredulously, "Is the truck completed?"
While the vehicle may not have the glossy mainstream look many owners would opt to take, Guthrie has built for himself a unique ride he's more than happy with and suits his needs perfectly.
And to answer those inquiring folks who think they may be seeing a half-completed project, Guthrie has proudly placed a sticker in the rear window reading: "It IS finished."
Don't let its rough-around-the-edges appearance fool you; this Chevy packs plenty of modern and high-tech goodies under its rusty, primered body.
"After all the work we've put into it, it drives and handles just like a Camaro, or even better. Driving it is a pure high -- it's an old truck that feels brand new," Guthrie said.
The Medinah resident went on the hunt for a vintage hauler in 2009 with the help of his wife, Julie.
"I've always had race cars but my wife wanted a simple old truck. Even now, she's usually the one who drives it to the shows and cruise nights."
The vehicle was found in rural Iowa where it had pulled years of duty as a farm truck. Those days of slogging through muddy roads are long over as the truck now packs a suspension that is built to grip paved streets.
"We've updated the frame and suspension and installed four-wheel disc brakes. It sits on the ground but get it on the highway and it's just beautiful the way it goes down the road," Guthrie said.
Staggered wheels aid in the mean stance; 17-inchers are mounted up front with 20-inch wheels in the rear. Powering this Apache is a late model 350-cubic-inch V-8 mated to a 700R4 transmission with overdrive.
"We've done a little camshaft work and updated the serpentine belt and brackets and what not," he said. "Not too much but just enough to bring the performance up a bit."
The exterior metalwork on the body was left alone just as Guthrie found it, but for added reliability and comfort all the weatherstripping and glass was replaced. "The body has that 'rat-rod' look and really shows some off the years of accumulated weathering and texture," Guthrie said.
That same great patina carries over into the spacious cabin where a bench seat from a Chevrolet Suburban has been installed. A tilt steering wheel aids in entry and exiting while additional gauges let Guthrie keep a watchful eye on the powertrain vitals.
The project came together in three year's time and from the start, Guthrie had a clear focus on the outcome. Although always a "hot rod kind of guy," he enjoys spending time with family more and didn't want to be constantly working on a project. "My goal was for this truck to be maintenance-free and something that wasn't needing constant attention."
Look under the Apache and you'll see the whole frame and underside has been powdercoated to ensure years of trouble-free operation. "We've put over 3,000 miles on it and have a real good time with it. We enjoy the people we meet and everywhere we go, it's very well liked."
It won't come as a surprise that Guthrie doesn't have a single future build planned for the truck. "Here on out, we're leaving it as is. We meet new people who come up and ask, 'When are you going to paint it? Or do this or that to it.' Our reply is always, 'Never. It's finished.' "