Technically Speaking

Project White Trash: Polishing a Turd


Welcome to part three of the Project White Trash series; an on-going story highlighting the resurrection of a 1964 Chevy truck that was rescued from the scrapper.


As soon as I bought the truck, I went on a parts safari. I hit up every wrecking yard in the area and started raiding the 1960 to 1966 Chevy and GMC trucks. I would arm myself with a list of the needed parts and go hunting. Even if I already had the part and I found a better one, I would buy it. On my way home from work at Edwards Air Force Base, I went by a local self-service yard and spied a 1963 C-10 in the “Hold” area. This area is for vehicles that are waiting to be released into the yard. I asked the Manager when the truck was going to be released, and was told that it would be available in two days. I took a good look over the truck and made a mental list of what was there. I’ll be back…

Two days later, I showed up with my toolbox and proceed to strip that poor truck like a rat on a Cheeto. You have to be ready to jump on stuff like this as soon it comes available. If not, those parts will disappear within a few days. Here’s a picture of it’s tailgate that I picked up for a whopping $45. It was a nice, straight piece.

That rear bumper has got to GO, along with all the junk in the bed. Check out the “trick” turn signals off of a motorcycle. This truck was loaded with odd stuff like that. The prior owner must have been an interesting dude.

64 Chevy truck with a 63 tailgatre



Part Two left off with the filthy truck getting a much-needed cleaning. As the truck was drying off, I stepped back to take a look at the difference. It was certainly better, but it still had a lot of issues that bothered me. The body was beat-up, but I had plans to fix most of that. Replacing the damaged trim was not going to be an issue, either. The sight of all of the surface rust was driving me nuts. I don’t want rust on anything I own, regardless of how stylish some guys might think it is. My vision was to have a well-worn vehicle that was as clean as possible. Yes, I’m one of those guys who will be washing and polishing his beater truck every weekend.

64 Chevy truck after washing



I realized that this next step was a bit premature, but I had a few reasons for it. The first reason was that as I said earlier, I disliked the look of rust. The second reason was that I wanted to figure out a way to rid the surface rust without removing a bunch of the original paint. I ran up to the local Lowes and grabbed a bottle of CLR, a spray bottle, and a pack of green Scotchbrite sheets. I tested a small area on the passenger side fender by spraying the CLR directly on the paint and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. With a Scotchbrite, I lightly rubbed the fender and the rust began to disappear. Knowing that I had figured out a proven method, I proceeded to CLR scrub the entire truck. What a difference!

64 Chevy truck, L/H bedside after CLR

64 Chevy Truck, passenger side rear after CLR treatment


Before we move on, I have to show you something that was discovered during the rust removal. Once the rust started disappearing, I found that White Trash must have had an interesting history. It appears that somebody had shot it in the ass with a shotgun. For the entire time I own this vehicle, this area will never be repaired. It is a visual reminder of the hard times that this truck endured during it’s life. It adds character!

64 Chevy truck, passenger rear bed side shotgun damage



One of the items that needed immediate attention was the missing rear window glass. I have to assume that this truck had a cabover camper on it for a good portion of it’s life. The front cowl extensions had brackets for strut rods, and the tailgate and rear window were missing. Another clue to my theory was that the inner fenders inside the bed were actually really nice. A truck with a body this thrashed should have inner fenders to match, but not this one.

A quick trip down to my pals at The Truck Shop in Orange, California got me the rear window glass and the weatherstrip. Because my truck was equipped with air conditioning, it had the factory tinted glass, so I got a tinted rear window to match. I have always loved the look of the factory GM tint. It has a green hue that looks like a vintage Coke bottle. Brad and I installed the rear glass, which put up a pretty good fight. It had probably been decades since a piece of glass had been in that opening. The cab was not sealed from the elements.

64 Chevy truck with a new rear window installed


Another item needing immediate attention was the grille. The original looked like it had lost a fight with a bulldozer. I searched Craigslist and found an original aluminum grille in Fullerton, California for $75. It had a couple of dents and the factory anodizing had turned a grayish brown. I carefully pushed out the dents and scrubbed the aluminum with oven cleaner to remove the remainder of the anodizing. I had a couple of headlight rings and picked the best two. It’s not perfect, but what a difference!


64 Chevy truck with original grille




64 Chevy truck with an aluminum grille


Stay tuned for the next episode of project White Trash, where I start on the suspension mods. I’ll be bringing the torch, the air chisel, and other weapons of mass destruction!

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The Author

Alex Welsh

Alex Welsh

1 Comment

  1. Tony Velasquez
    August 6, 2021 at 9:06 am — Reply

    Well??? I am wondering what happened?

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