Finishing up my booth visits early at the 2019 SEMA Show allowed me to cruise at my own pace and search for the show’s coolest builds. Yes, there are a ton of stereotypical “SEMA Builds” here — the trucks with monster wheels and lift kits — but I was more focused on unique powertrain swaps or things you don’t see every day.
AMSOIL is known to have some pretty wild builds in their booths at trade shows, and SEMA 2019 is no different. This year, they showcased this absolutely gorgeous 1959 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck. In the late-’50s these trucks were equipped with an engine and transmission combo that wouldn’t exactly keep up with today’s performance numbers.
In fact, these pickups were equipped with a Chevrolet 235 cubic-inch Thriftmaster engine cranking out a whopping 145-horsepower at 4,200 rpm. We aren’t in the ’50s anymore and with this being a build for SEMA, you almost have to expect something outrageous. Insert monster diesel powerplant here. How about a 700-horsepower, 6.6-Liter LBZ Duramax engine.
It’s safe to say a chassis this old would be overtaxed when this monster V8 diesel engine starting thumping, but luckily for the original chassis, it was rejuvenated with a custom-built, hand-fabricated four-link suspension system, a Dana 60 14-Bolt rearend with 3:73 gears, and Fox 2.5 shocks.
Like the engine, the transmission was completely changed too. The old Apache had four transmission options in 1959 but I can guarantee the six-speed Allison transmission and Atlas transfer the Apache now sports case weren’t one of those options. After all, this rig needs some serious insurance to handle the 700-horsepower and probably 1,500 lb-ft of torque the engine is producing.
This whole package was coated with a perfect mixture of Axalta Apache-D Blue paint, which stands out as the brightest blue of the show. As for a wheel and tire package, this Apache rides on a set of 20-inch diameter, 13-inch-wide Fuel Off-Road Wheels, wrapped in 35-inch tall Toyo tires.
Things are a little different now than they were in the late ’50s, as this truck came from the factory originally with 15×6-inch wheels wrapped in a 235/75 R15 tire. Regardless of anyone’s personal style, almost anyone can appreciate the effort involved with revamping this old classic into a fire-breathing diesel.
Stay tuned to Diesel Army for more of the diesel-powered trucks we spotted at the show. What are your thoughts on this ’59? Is this a swap you would consider cool or would you try another powerplant? Let us know in the comments below.