Growing up as a kid was tough because I came from the wrong side of the tracks,” Chris Burgess, owner of this slick ’52 GMC pickup, told us. “I basically had nothing, and I learned at an early age that to get anywhere in life, you have to work hard. So I did.” This isn’t some kind of lead up to a story about a guy who has had the same vision of the same truck stuck in his head since childhood.
Chris has never owned a custom anything until this point in his life (he’s 43 as of the year 2017), but he’s always appreciated the look of older customized pickups.
After being discharged from the military, Chris drove a truck for a living. He wasn’t a stranger to putting in a full day’s work, and he has since done very well for himself riding the roads between coasts. The idea of buying or building a truck hadn’t been in the stars for him in the past because he was away from home a lot. He never really had a burning desire to chase a build until the day arrived that ended up taking his life in a different direction.
“I was hauling a load through Kansas, and I spotted a Model A two-door sedan with faded ugly brown paint and black wheels and fenders. I instantly fell in love with the vision of this look on an old pickup. I’d never owned a custom vehicle before, but at that point, I was able to imagine myself driving a truck that could look like that.”
After that first encounter, Chris went about his daily routine. Quick flashes of rolling around in a cool truck would surface in his thoughts, and then scurry to the back of his mind. More and more, though, he found himself daydreaming about what was becoming an obsession, and since he had a few informal connections on social media who could clue him in to how full-blown projects work, he figured he’d hit them up when he had some free time.
“I was following this guy Jeff Davy from Devious Customs on Facebook and Instagram who was always posting photos of all the crazy cars and vintage trucks he was piecing together. His shop was near my home in Riverside, so I messaged him one day and asked him a few questions about his operation.”
The two chatted for an hour and started bouncing ideas off each other about timelines and ideas relating to starting a project—if and when Chris actually locked down a truck. “At this point, I was all talk I guess since I didn’t even own a vintage truck for them to work on, but I was convinced that Jeff and his team would be able to build the vintage truck I had described.
We hit it off, shared similar tastes in cars and had a good hour-long conversation that first time we talked. The very next day, I went to Devious Customs and put down a $1,000 deposit to get on to Jeff’s schedule calendar. I may have been jumping the gun a bit, but I did have a lead on a pickup that I was sure I could grab.”
More and more, though, he found himself daydreaming about what was becoming an obsession.”
Just like that, Chris was on the board at the shop. He told Jeff all about the truck he spotted for sale not too far away. The next day, the two headed out with a trailer to see what was what. “Jeff picked me up in the morning the next day, and mind you, we had only known each other for two days at this point, but he was excited about my excitement …”
The two traveled through the winding back roads of the Temecula, California, wine groves to where the truck was stored. The previous owner was there to show the ’52 GMC to potential buyers. “There had been a substantial amount of work done to the truck already and a lot of parts that would come with it too,” Chris says of that first day looking at his future project vintage truck. There was some back and forth between the two parties, but Chris was ready to close the deal and take the truck back to the shop so Jeff and crew could get to work on it. The guys cooked up a plan of action on the way back to Devious HQ, and the vintage truck was left at the shop for the duration of the rehab process.
The idea of buying or building a truck hadn’t been in the stars for him in the past because he was away from home a lot. He never really had a burning desire to chase a build until the day arrived that ended up taking his life in a different direction.”
Jeff has years of experience in the one-off design and build game, and in that time he has created some memorable rides, which is why Chris was so eager to involve Jeff in his first custom project. “Like always, we try to make each of our custom truck builds unique …” Jeff says. “… We do our best to do something different to give us an edge in the sea of custom trucks out there in the show scene.” To give Chris’ GMC the advantage it would need to do that, Jeff wanted to run with the initial ideas inspired in Chris when he saw that Model A on the road months back. To push the truck past a lot of its competition right off the bat, the crew planned for a complete frame-off build. Jeff adds, “We wanted to powder coat the chassis, paint as many components as possible and make sure that the truck not only looked great but that it could be driven daily as well.” The Devious Customs crew spent a total of one year whipping the truck into shape. Once the guys had a rendering of the truck mocked-up, they had some of the best aftermarket manufacturers in the business champing at the bit to join the build as sponsors. Edelbrock played a huge part in hopping up the brand-new Chevy 383 stroker engine, Rocket Racing was looking forward to seeing its Booster series wheels worked into the build, and House of Kolor just knew its hues would give Chris the exact colors he’d want to see his truck wearing. “Some of my personal favorite parts of the build were the modified 1965 C/10 front bumper and dash work,” Jeff notes about the finished product. “Most people might not notice it, but we shortened the glove box to install AC vents that are equally spaced on the dash. Of course, the gold ice pearl over the brown paint really makes this truck what it is with all of the black accessories.”
Chris may not have realized just how amazing it would be to own a fully customized truck like the one he has now but he’s loving every aspect of it.”
As for Chris, he really couldn’t be happier with the outcome. He’s even gone so far as to incorporate his favorite movie into his first custom build, which further personalizes it.
“I’ve named the truck Sexual Chocolate after my favorite movie, ‘Coming to America,’ not just because it’s the same color as chocolate. I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan, and if you don’t already know, he plays 10 or 11 different characters in that movie. One was named Randy Watson, and he sings with the band called Sexual Chocolate. My license plate also reads ‘RWATSON.’ I don’t know if anyone else would’ve put that together, but there it is.” Chris may not have realized just how amazing it would be to own a fully customized truck like the one he has now, but he’s loving every aspect of it. “I can take this truck anywhere and it’s a huge crowd-pleaser and a great conversation piece. I love the attention it gets, not only from truck people, but the everyday Joes as well. Hope to see you all at the next big show!”
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.