I’m something of a popular culture junkie. Perhaps not to the extent that I subscribe to any websites, blogs, or the like, but when I’m surfing the internet in my spare time, I often find myself drawn to stories about recognizable figures I find interesting. My default setting is to want to think the best of people, so my intent in reading such stories usually isn’t to find fault or something tragic to discuss with my friends or for the sake of trolling someone I don’t even know. I’m just naturally curious about the human condition and what makes people tick, including people from backgrounds and lifestyles that are different from my own. Often times, I have read about a celebrity or well-known figure who has undergone the knife, so to speak, to enhance their appearance.
Most of the time, it’s women who are featured in such stories, but make no mistake – lots of men also have elective cosmetic surgery, even if it’s a small percentage of the general population that does so. According to the American Society Of Plastic Surgeons, males accounted for almost 290,000 aesthetic surgical procedures in 2020 (better than 12% of the 2.3 million overall figure last year), with the five most popular for guys being, and in this order: nose reshaping (65,000), eyelid surgery (46,000), cheek implants (29,000), liposuction (23,000), and ear surgery (22,000).
1990 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Scottsdale long-bed, with photo as sourced from the internet.
Without passing judgement on any of my favorite celebrities, male or female, who have had some work done, I’ll just say that I think it has worked really well for some, but not at all for others, some of whom simply became almost unrecognizable to me as the figures who had earned my admiration. I suppose it’s different for those in the entertainment industry, in that their looks are more closely tied to their public images and success in the business. Many of us want to emulate our heroes and heroines, so the more we might read in some clickbait article about a famous person who had just come back from the plastic surgeon, the more we might think it’s okay (or even encouraged) for us “regular folks” to do the same.
I’m in my mid-40s and it’s clear from looking at my face in pictures of myself from a decade ago that I’ve been doing a lot of smiling, which I view as a positive. When people tell me I look youthful for my age, I’m careful to correct those who might also tell me dismissively that “Black don’t crack”. I cite some of my personal choices as having inherent benefits to my appearance, in addition to (yes) fortunate genetics, on both sides. Also, I hope it’s obvious in my writing that I’m proud of my African American heritage, but I’m also proud of the European half of my roots, which wasn’t magically “swallowed up” by my Blackness even from just a physical perspective. I am not a clone of my father, great man though he was. We all originated from two biological parents, each of whom had an ethnic background of his or her own.
Cultural identity is a separate topic (I identify as both Black and biracial), but my mom is 0% Black and my African immigrant father was 0% White, as also confirmed by DNA tests taken by my brothers. With all of that said and to offer one example, I have a stout, west African nose that is also long, like those on my mom’s side of the family. It’s there. It’s prominent. It’s a big, ol’ honker, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a visual tie-in to where and from whom I came from. My face is also asymmetrical, which becomes obvious when I flip selfies around to correct their perspective. GQ material I may not be, but I like the way I look. I’m me and wouldn’t want to look like anybody else – Black, White, or otherwise. I could think of probably at least a hundred things I’d want for my money over Botox, rhinoplasty, or any other cosmetic procedure. There’s more to me than what you see, and even so, for some it can be a profound act of self-love to embrace one’s natural appearance.
When I came across our featured truck, it took me a little bit to find some clues as to what the donor vehicle might have been. I found my answer in looking at its greenhouse, with its smooth, aircraft-style doors. A license plate search confirmed that this is a 1990 Chevrolet C/K 1500 pickup powered by an electrically fuel-injected 350 V8, which had 175 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque from the factory. It’s got what appears to be the shorter six-and-a-half foot bed mated to the standard cab. According to Consumer Guide, a “factory” example in this configuration was good for EPA ratings of 14 mph city / 19 mph highway with a three-speed automatic, though their combined test figure at the time was only 13 mph with the five-speed manual. The base engine was a 4.3L V6 with 160 horses to haul around what originally had a starting weight of about 4,400 pounds.
1939 Ford DeLuxe brochure photo, as sourced from the internet.
Aesthetically, I think these trucks in their original form still look great today, with an almost timeless, modern-classic style to them. Their utility, ease of operation, and reliability are also first-rate, from many articles I’ve read about them. I drove one during my time as a landscaper and greenskeeper back in the ’90s, and it did what it was supposed to do very well. I also like a customized vehicle, and I have been quick to defend more than a few rides featured here at Curbside Classic that have had their exteriors altered to some polarizing effect. I think this one looks pretty cool, and it probably turned even more heads when the bodywork had been freshly completed.
My question here, though, is why what looks to have been a 1939 (or 1940) Ford DeLuxe was chosen as the inspiration for the customization of an example of one of Chevy’s few home-run hits of its era. Talk about a mixed identity. “Hey, man! Check out my Chevy truck that looks like a vintage Ford! Cool, huh?” I’ll state my opinion that the 1939 and ’40 Fords are terrific-looking cars, and when I looked at pictures of Chevrolets from the same era, it becomes a little more clear to me why the owner of this truck had moved forward with the Ford theme. I don’t think the ’39 Chevy looks bad at all. It’s just that the essence of the 1939 Ford actually sort of looks correct to me on the front of this ’90s Chevy pickup. This is just like how the results of plastic surgery are sometimes successful even when the newly-assigned physical features might be atypical of one’s family or ethnic background(s).
To this blue truck’s detractors, I’ll just remind you that you don’t have to drive or be seen in it. And I’ll still sing along to Kenny Rogers’ (RIP) “The Gambler” in good company, regardless of whether or not people think his facelift was a good idea. People may tell me, “Just you wait until you’re older,” with respect to my current ambivalence toward elective cosmetic surgery, but I’ve often thought that comfort in one’s own skin (sometimes with the help of a good therapist) can be one of the most physically attractive qualities in a person. That’s my game plan for now, anyway.
Irving Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, August 20, 2021.
Though unintentional, there’s also a resemblance to the retro-styled 2001 Lancia Thesis (arguably at the back too with narrow, upright tail lights).
Wow. I’m unfamiliar with this model, but I totally see it. Great call.
Love the story, Joe. To your pop culture celebrity cosmetic story analogy to the truck, I offer 2 words… Jennifer Grey.
But to each their own, and in the end, it the owner’s face, or vehicle, to do with I guess as they please.
Thanks, Jeff! Many people loved Jennifer Grey as “Baby”, but for me, she’ll always be Jeannie Bueller with the white Fiero. (Or should I call her “Shauna”? LOL)
If the owner of this Chevrolet is happy, that’s all that really matters. It is his/hers, so let them do what they want with it.
You’ve got me wondering with your plastic surgery comparison as there is often an undiscussed downside with most types of surgery.
Late last year I had nonelective surgery and the incision is on the side of my face. My face is now slightly more asymmetrical along with an obvious void below my ear. Incidentally, the surgeon’s wife is a plastic surgeon.
But…the outcome is the entire right side of my face is numb, likely permanent. None of this bothers me and I mentioned it only as a parallel and to illustrate my curiosity about what on this Chevrolet has been an unforeseen downside due to this surgery. Engine access? Suspension travel? Ride and handling changes? Frame enhancements? Body creaks? Likely no big deal but the mind wonders.
The “Automotive Aesthetics” van in background of the first picture is a nice touch!
Jason, good points and questions. Looking at the front of this truck and being unfamiliar with how things would normally look under the hood, would these mods have needed a new radiator / supports?
I’m also glad you noticed the van in the background – “Automotive Aesthetics” was in the running for my subtitle. And as for your face, if all is working well aside from being numb, I’m glad it sounds here like it worked out.
When I think of plastic surgery, I often think back to when I was growing up in Philadelphia. The most well-known plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the 1980s was a man maned Dr. Newman, though he was more widely known as Dr. Nose.
He was probably a very skilled surgeon, but he was equally skilled at seeking publicity and creating/maintaining an image. Part of that image involved his car. He drove a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit with a vanity license plate of “DR NOSE”. I recall seeing him driving around a few times – his publicity worked… after all, three decades later, I still remember his name.
I think after a while he changed his license plate to “DR LIPO” as his industry changed, but he’ll always be stuck in my memory as Dr. Nose.
Good choice of nickname for him, makes me think of Bond’s Dr. No.
Dr. Nose, coming from the 1980s, sounds like the precursor to a few reality shows, what with the Rolls, image, and vanity plates! It sounds like he was effective in building a brand and name recognition, so that deserves credit.
Cosmetic surgery, like vehicle modifications, can be a mixed bag. A subtle tweak of either can enhance the look. As an example, I added a thin red pinstripe to my dark gray metallic daily driver. My wife thought it looked cheap, but everyone else liked it and most of them thought it was OEM. I considered going farther, but decided against that. Surgery is the same way. At what point do you stop. In the finally analysis, when I look in the mirror, I except who I am, both inside and out.
Those red pinstripes look tasteful and “factory” to me, going with the actual contours on the side of the Cruze. You make a great point about knowing when to stop. When I had my ’88 Mustang back in the ’90s, I added little accessories one at a time. With each new thing, I asked myself, “Was that too much?” I eventually stopped getting things for it, but not before I had probably one foot over to J.C. Whitney-land. Kudos to you for what looks like a great, simple, effective addition to your Chevy.
I look at this and wonder how that low area between the fenders/headlamps and the grille doesn’t interfere whatever was under the hood in those areas as originally built.
No cosmetic surgery for me; I look like what I look like and sorry if anyone doesn’t like it. Fortunately I did alright with the genetic lottery looks-wise; healthwise not so much.
That’s a great question. I wonder if it needed a different radiator, but I admit I’d be the wrong person to ask about that.
I used to joke with my friends that once I hit 40, my “factory warranty” had expired and I expected things to start breaking. I’m with you, though – take me or leave me. I’m mostly good with either.
Save for some teeth, I still have all my original parts. That’s not to say they all work as well as they once did 🙁
First, thanks for a great personal intro. I always get a lot out of your writing, whether it’s about the car itself, the locational context, or the personal context. As for the truck, I don’t really see much Ford in it. I think the shape and the details are different enough that someone in 1940 might not have even considered that. Of course, they’d have been too distracted by the back half. Overall, I think it’s a nice effort but doesn’t work for me, with an odd mix of smooth curves and angles. And who knows, maybe it is an homage to Lancia.
Thanks, Dman. I think that if the grille were slightly wider and had vertical ribs in it, it might have made what I perceive to be a Ford look to be much more pronounced. The mesh in the grille takes away some of that. I thought of the Ford also because of the slightly pointed, elongated-oval headlamp surrounds.
If Mitsuoka did pickups…
That was my first thought too!
This wasn’t my first thought, but now I can’t unsee it. 🙂
As always, a really thought-provoking read. It is odd in this day and age that anyone is 100% anything, but my father was 100% Irish, and from what you have said, your father was a 100%er too, just from a different place. As for the plastic surgery, I have come to look at those like house remodels – when you do it, it looks all great and wonderful, but as time passes, not so much – like the great 1920s tudor that got gutted and redone in, say, 1970 – it was great in the early 70s but now most folks wish it had been left alone. Most of us age reasonably gracefully, and I usually think that natural aging works better than aging after work has been done.
On the truck, I love 1939 Fords and I really like these Chevy trucks – just not on the same vehicle.
I’ll say this about backgrounds. Those DNA test results were surprising. Liberia itself is a relatively “new” country (independence in 1847) and was also settled by freed U.S. slaves, so I knew there was going to be a percentage of my dad’s half of my ancestry from various west African nations, which was the case.
It was my mom’s side that was the shocker. Perhaps because of my grandfather’s German surname, I had always gathered that my mom’s side of the family identified primarily as being of German descent (with some Scots Irish on my grandmother’s side). However, my mom’s side of the family was at least as varied as my dad’s, with countries in there I never would have guessed. German was the dominant percentage, but barely.
To your point and at the end of the day, unless one’s parents came to the U.S. in the last century from their country of origin, you’re probably going to be a mix of something, regardless of whether you’re Black, White, Latinx, etc. All of us want to belong to a group larger than just our immediate families, and I think part of the psychology of identifying with one ethnic group or another based on our surname is just another way of saying, “Rah for our team!” in a way that’s not necessarily bad. It’s just important to keep it all in perspective and not use it to put others down.
I like the analogy of the 1920s tudor with the 1970s harvest gold update. I think the mods on this truck were done well enough, and I’m sure that once it had just left the garage, it probably looked great when all the panels lined up. 🙂
Wow, what a wacky find! Thank you for the honest self assessment. Being happy with the way God made you and with how you’ve aged is the best way to live! We all need a little encouragement in that area sometimes.
I think perhaps this truck is the Joan Rivers of vehicles. She famously had a huge amount of plastic surgery done and was always very upfront and lighthearted about it. In fact, unlike most altered celebrities, she was probably better known in her older, modified form than before.
Likewise, this truck has an absurd, almost cartoonish amount of alteration and it clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. A 1990 Chevy looking like a 1940 Ford is an entertaining subject and it is obviously not trying to hide the fact it’s had some work done.
Being happy with the way God made you and with how you’ve aged is the best way to live!
Amen to this.
I like the whole Joan Rivers comparison. She seemed like a fun lady, and the mods on this truck are also fun. This fits.
A very cool style of writing which you were able to meld humanity with automotive cosmetics quite well…..
In some respects, the appearance is shocking yet not horrible (panel gaps not withstanding). The rear treatment is perhaps the most irritating because it doesn’t mesh fluidly with the frontal styling, i.e. too modern vs. old.
Trim around the grille needs better attention and grille work itself should be a better grade of hardware cloth. A 40’s style bumper would go a long way in adding beauty to this beast.
Thanks for an interesting read, Joseph !
Thank you so much! I agree that a better, more “finished”-looking grille texture would have taken the look of the front to a different level. I wonder if the body integrity / panel gaps looked a lot better maybe even five years ago, and how old this customization is.
I think that promo pic might be the uncommon light-duty 2500 (GVWR 7200 #). It has 6-lug wheels, but no 4×4 sticker, and it’s got the typical 2WD rake. 2WD 1500s would have only 5-lug wheels.
That’s cool. This is the kind of fact I would never have uncovered, so thank you. It was amazingly hard to find a picture of a non-classified ads 1990 Chevrolet C/K pickup online when I had originally drafted this essay three weeks ago. I spent probably an hour searching for just this one picture, believe it or not.
It takes a brave soul to take a vehicle and make it over in their personal style. I love daydreaming about and drawing what I would do to make my ideal car, but taking out the tin snips is a very different matter. Hats off to who ever did this. I like the look, and it made me smile, and seeing this in gnarly traffic would lighten my mood which is a big win.
Excellent. There is also something in me that mentally high-fives this kind of automotive self-expression.
A mixed heritage is interesting. My mother’s people, the Petschacks, came out from north-eastern Germany/Poland (the border moved) to escape being conscripted into the Prussian army back around 1860, and I tend to identify more with that side of my family. Interesting back-story, and I saw them every school holiday. Lovely people. Dad is of English, Irish (O’Rourke) and Scottish (Dalgleish) stock, but he grew up in an orphanage separated from his brothers, and I only saw their families every few years. He was never close to them. He never spoke of the orphanage years, except to say that he was entrusted to drive their Model T to collect the mail every day. I guess you call that focusing on the bright side of things. Then he’d had enough of it, broke out of the orphanage one night and became a swaggie (hobo) just as the Depression broke out. I’m sure he could have told some interesting stories of those years – but he never did.
Cosmetic surgery would never have been on my radar either. I’ve never seen the point of prettifying my appearance. Take me as you see me or, as Peggy Lee sang, pass me by. I have to say the metalwork on this Chevy seems particularly well done. The headlight surrounds and the peak on the fenders have more of a Willys vibe than Ford; period Ford fenders are rounder, but that grille shape is definitely Ford-inspired.
Great find; thanks for showing us!
Thank you for sharing your own family history. I enjoy reading about things like this. Peggy Lee is also a favorite of mine. Now, I feel like searching for classic Willys pictures to see what you mean.
Your self-described default setting, Mr D, shines through the lovely contemplations you provide on this site. A correct approach to the world: the alternative is corrosive.
As for facelifts, perhaps this car illustrates the irremoveable flaw in the logic of such, which is that they do not work. Just as the senioring Hollywood star (a bit faded and needful of new work) looks like the same person from memory yet somehow startled and unable to express anything, so the Chev ute whose owner has imposed various ideas on its fading frame has not noticed its inability to cope with a look and time not its own.
Thank you so much, Justy. I hadn’t even considered how some surgeries limit facial movement when I was originally drafting this. It’s been said of me that I have a “rubber face” (very expressive), so I can’t imagine not being able to react to things the way I normally do.
Ok this is growing on me. I like it better today than yesterday, but could this be (fibreglass reinforced) plastic surgery rather than sheetmetal surgery? Those flat spots on the lower front really need a bumper to cover them up a bit.
And the idea must not be that farfetched, there seem to be several commercially produced 1940 Ford front ends for the S-10 pickup. Who knew??
Wow – I think this looks cool! The only disharmony from this front three-quarter aspect is how rounded the front looks compared to the linear styling of the rest of the S-10.
I am pretty ambivalent on plastic surgery. If you want to do it, it’s OK with me and none of my business, just be sure you have a competent surgeon.
As to the truck, it reminds me of kits that were made and maybe still are to turn your S10 into a 1939 Studebaker. The results were different but more of a caricature of the Stude than anything else. The thing that gets me is that people were advertising these for sale as a ’39 Studebaker truck. In fact, I saw one in a trader just last month. No mention that it was a Chevy. I think they were marketed to people who wanted to build a quickie street rod. Look up the ’39 Studebaker Coupe Express for an idea of what it pretended to be.
These kits to transform your ’90’s T Bird into a ’49 ish Ford shoebox are still available. I don’t think that they are an improvement on either design, but the builder does end up with something different! I worked with a women who got a nose job, honestly I really couldn’t tell that there was any difference, and I had worked with her for years. She looked fine before, but she said that she could see the difference, which was all that mattered.
Accepting who we are, and becoming comfortable with that person is an important life’s lesson. Unfortunately some people never achieve this. As a man I am lucky, women have so much more pressure about their appearance, so much of it unrealistic and artificial. To quote the great philosopher, Popeye: “I am what I am, and that’s all that’s I am!”
…Women have so much more pressure about their appearance, so much of it unrealistic and artificial.
I agree with this unfortunate assessment. This very topic came up this week among friends on social media. This is also true within some subcultures, like among queer-identifying males, where a much higher premium is placed on looks than in the general population.
I have seen pictures of these Shoebox Ford conversions before, and I’m on the fence in terms of it being to my personal taste. I do like the individuality expressed here, and pride of ownership will always shine through with a car that is loved and well taken care of by its owner – which seems to be the case here.
And lastly, Popeye never lies. 🙂
I’m surprised that the moderators of the classifieds (are there any? I don’t know) would allow this to fly. I’m sure in the description of the vehicle, the powertrain and other details were mentioned, but that would be sloppy to advertise it as just a Studebaker.
That said, I just looked up both “S-10 1939 Studebaker” and also the Coupe Express, and I think both look really cool!
As you could tell the Coupe Express used the passenger car front sheet metal. Kind of a Studebaker Ranchero/El Camino.