Joel Cornuet’s Duramax-Powered 1957 Chevrolet 3600 Truck Restoration

Wow. In an attempt to start this story, I was at a loss for words. While streaming through the internet looking for news in the industry, high-end builds, or to help out new enthusiasts, we stumbled across a comment of Joel Cornuet. His comment was a photo of what can only be his beloved restoration that looks to be complete.
So, we reached out to Cornuet. We had to see where this truck came from. We finally got ahold of Cornuet to get the tale on this beaut and what a story it is. What you see here is his 1957 Chevrolet 3600 truck. The truck rides on the original 1957 chassis that has been trimmed down from its long bed form to the now short bed anatomy.

In 1986, Cornuet’s father purchased the truck with the intention of fixing it up. “Yeah, after about four years of dad owning the truck, when I was six years old, my dad and I worked together in completely tearing it down for a full rebuild,” said Cornuet. “Well, after twenty years, as you can see, it hasn’t changed a bit. As Cornuet grew older, like money burning a hole in your pocket, he couldn’t just let it sit there.
“Once I got a place of my own with a shop big enough for a project like this, I had a serious conversation with dad deciding whether or not we were going to finishing rebuilding this truck or sell the thing all together,” said Cornuet. “It’s pretty clear that he gave me the go ahead to start in on the rebuild, but after some time, it’s complete.”
Cornuet tells us that it was a two-year journey rebuilding this machine and that totaled to 3,500-hours of labor invested into this project. That takes dedication. A lot of times you will see trucks set up for a rebuild, but never are completed, but Cornuet stuck to his guns and knocked it out of the park.
“In the beginning, I started with a donor 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and salvaged anything I could from it and sold what I didn’t need,” said Cornuet. “Also, since I was on a budget, and the truck only weighed 5,800-pounds, I decided to leave the engine stock and just have used some custom tunes.” The truck now cruises at 385-horsepower and 750-ft/lbs of torque.

“Stil budget-oriented, I decided to transplant the existing donor interior into the 57′. It took an unbelievable amount of time, but I’m very happy with how it turned out. The first year was nothing but mechanical and fabrication work, and the second year was all body and paintwork,” Cornuet said. “I did 98-percent of the work myself and my home shop.” To take the initiative and complete a project like this basically alone shows the integrity of Mr. Cornuet.
This beautiful black coat is credited to Summit Racing‘s single stage Satin Hot Rod Black paint. Once it was complete, he cruised around for a few years with the factory chassis, suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes for a few years. But, over that time, Cornuet realized that all this work he put into this truck is completed with the ride quality in the garbage.
As 2018 struck, Cornuet did a complete suspension and brake upgrade that turned this truck around completely. Now, a year later, with the truck in more of a pleased-state, Cornuet tells us he’s invested about $25,000 into the build to this point. With that being said, there must be something he can add or change. Believe it or not, the list of changes are very small.
“The only thing that I would like to do in the future is to construct a fan shroud for better cooling performance. Although the existing one functions, better performance is always a good idea,” Cornuet says. “Other than that, 19.5-inch steel wheels to portray that more retro look,” Cornuet says he’s really not that pleased with the wheels that are on the truck, so this 19.5-inch steel wheel upgrade could happen sooner than later.

Even the bed floor has been redone and with that redwood color, it pops with contrast against the satin black.

On the front end, to hopefully improve the steering technology over the 57′ style, Cornuet decided to use a Crown Victoria front suspension with RideTech shockwaves. For the rear, to completely customize the rear suspension settings, Cornuet did a full four-link suspension, again using RideTech air bags and shock absorbers.

Slowing this powerhouse down, Cornuet relies on four-wheel disc brakes that are mounted to the Dana 60 dual rear wheel axles geared to a 3:73 ratio. The original rear fenders were widened six inches to clear these monster Goodyear Wrangler tires wrapping the black KMC XD Rockstar wheels. With all of the power and torque the truck makes, Cornuet needs to lay down a large footprint to maintain traction.

Under the hood is the home of an LB7 Duramax engine measuring out to 6.6-liters. Although the engine is still stock, these engines are very capable still. With merely a few extra add-ons, this truck could really be a tire burner.

Ensuring the engine is fed with super-cooled air, Cornuet utilizes a Turbonetics custom intercooler. Also, among the beautiful interior transformation, the truck has a Vintage Air air conditioning system. Not only can Cornuet engine this truck as a cruiser, but he can also enjoy the comfort in cool air this summer.

Custom tuning of the engine is performed by Idaho Rob. By using EFILive and the expertise of Idaho Rob, this truck will operate at full potential to give Cornuet the best driving experience possible. Using an Airdog Fuel System, Cornuet makes sure his Duramax engine stays fed with plenty of clean fuel.

We are stoked to have found this truck online and can’t wait to see it in person one day. You can really tell that time was taken and things were done right. Stay tuned to DieselArmy for more action from the diesel industry. Have a truck you’re rebuilding? We want to see them!

About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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