On the Road: Inspired by a legend

first_imgCreated with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Dave Clayton (left) with his childhood hero, George Barris in front of the Batmobile at a Calgary World of Wheels show.Courtesy Dave Clayton, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Chris Heighton of Heighton Restorations made all of the body modifications, and laid down old-school flames over top the Ford Thistle Purple paint.Chad Murphy, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Cascade Interiors of Calgary finished the inside of Dave Clayton’s custom truck in grey tweed.Chad Murphy, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2The custom aluminum grille was built by Derek Pauletto. He fabricated it without having the truck on hand to check his work, and when he was finished it fit like a glove.Chad Murphy, Driving Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Chad Murphy, Driving We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. Known as the King of the Kustomizers, Barris was responsible for creating iconic television vehicles such as the Munster Koach and Batmobile.“Barris and the Batmobile were going to be at the World of Wheels,” Clayton recalls. “I reached out to his car handler and asked if I could detail the Batmobile, and was told no. But on the Friday night of the show, I met Barris and asked him directly if I could detail his car, and he said yes.“He wrote on the back of one of one of his business cards, ‘It’s OK for Dave to detail my Batmobile’, and that was it.”The pair hit it off, and as Clayton was detailing the Batmobile he and Barris began talking about the GMC Jimmy project. That was all the inspiration Clayton needed to start thinking about building something a bit more radical.Chevrolet introduced the Blazer in 1969, and GMC followed with its sibling, the upscale Jimmy in 1970. These were full-size, truck-based utility vehicles, and were built to compete with the Ford Bronco and International Scout. Most often, Blazers and Jimmys were equipped with four-wheel drive, so the two-wheel drive 1977 GMC Jimmy Clayton bought is something of a rarity.“I’ve never liked the name Jimmy, so we call it a Blazer – even though it’s not the Chevy version,” Clayton explains. “My wife Lori and I bought it, and she drove it to work for a while. It looked good. It was lowered, had nice wheels and was painted black.“But after meeting Barris, who is a childhood hero of mine, we decided to go full custom.”As purchased, the Blazer had been properly lowered with dropped spindles up front and arced springs in the rear so Clayton left the suspension alone. The Corvette power train was ‘refreshed’ with ported heads, higher compression pistons and a lumpier cam.Clayton focused the bulk of his attention on modifying the body, and enlisted Chris Heighton of Heighton’s Restorations in Beiseker, Alberta to help.One of the most notable of the 11 major body modifications is the removable roof. In 1977, the Jimmy/Blazer trucks had only a partially removable roof. That was a style change from the earlier generation where the entire roof from the windshield back could be taken off for an open top experience.Clayton found a roof from a 1973 Blazer, and Heighton adapted it to the 1977 truck. The windshield was laid back, or raked, 114 mm. Doing this ultimately gave the truck a 140 mm chopped top.The vent windows in the doors were deleted, and all door and tailgate handles shaved while rear view mirrors from a 1990 Chevy 454 SS truck were added.Complex alterations were made front and back. A 1967 Chevrolet truck front end was grafted onto the 1977 fenders and hood. Most people, Clayton says, would have simply hung the 1967 sheet metal on the 1977 chassis, but Heighton cut apart the fenders and hood and seamlessly joined everything together, extending the overall length of the truck by 180 mm.A 1990 GMC truck front bumper was heavily modified to fit, and Derek Pauletto built the aluminum grille with all of its angles and compound curves when he was working at Aero-Tech Specialty Welding.“I didn’t leave him the truck, so we measured everything up and drew a diagram. I had it back in three days,” Clayton says. “When I picked it up, it fit like a glove, that was impressive.”Pauletto now runs his own shop, Trillion Industries in Calgary.At the back, the frame rails were shortened 10-inches and the gas tank moved ahead and up so a custom roll pan fabricated to accept 1980 Trans Am taillights, inverted and swapped side for side, could be welded in place.Heighton laid down intricate ‘old-school’ flames over the Ford Thistle Purple paint and Gary Miller added hand-painted vivid blue pinstripes around the flames. For all of the exterior alterations, the interior is upholstered in subtle grey tweed by Cascade Interiors.After finishing the Blazer, Clayton showed it to Barris at a World of Wheels event.Clayton says, “He walked around it twice, taking in all of the details, and then paid me the highest compliment when he said, ‘You guys nailed it on the head.’” Trending in Canada See More Videos PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? 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Contact him at 403-287-1067 or [email protected] RELATED TAGSGMCJimmyClassic CarsCalgaryClassic Cars & TrucksNew VehiclesAlbertaAutomobile Journalists Association of CanadaCalgaryCars and Car DesignChevrolet BlazerChevrolet CorvetteChris HeightonClaytonCulture and LifestyleDerek PaulettoFord BroncoGary MillerGeneral Motors CorporationGeorge BarrisGMC JimmyGreg WilliamsSUVs and CrossoversTrillion Industries ‹ Previous Next › Trending Videos The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever CALGARY — In 1996 Dave Clayton bought a GMC Jimmy.It had been lowered several inches and was powered by a Corvette L82 engine, but Clayton had plans to go further with the custom touches.It was also in 1996 that Clayton, a Calgary-based automotive detailer with his own shop, Personal Touch Car Care, met George Barris. last_img read more