ISAAC MION May 25, 2023 Chevrolet
A Chevy Cameo on its way to spanning four generations and two “hot rodifications,” cleave simpson’s former farm truck has been transformed into what could very well be the meanest, cleanest chevy cameo on the planet.
The year was 1967. The radio played Cream’s “Disraeli Gears.” Longhaired kids gathered at Haight-Ashbury to protest the Vietnam War and hippies gathered in upstate New York to frolic in the plasma-colored rain. At the time, Allan Simpson was in the middle of a move away from all that. He’d just bought a stock ’57 Chevy Cameo and used it to relocate his family from California to Alamosa, Colorado.
The truck served dual purposes as a farm and work vehicle up until 1976 when Allan gave it to his son Cleave (no relation to the Beav). Cleave, 16 at the time, commuted to and from school for a while until the high-test started flowing through his veins as it does many of us when we reach that age. He and his dad put a 396 and a turbo into the old farm truck and slapped on a coat of white Imron paint. Mullets and Sho-Los more than likely grew in unison as Bob Seger resonated through the Kracos while Cleave and his high-school sweetheart (now his wife, of course) cruised Main Street on Saturday nights. Cleave took the truck to college at the School of Mines before moving to Texas. The truck sat there for a few years before it eventually found its way home like one of those cats you hear about. Enter Johnny Martin of Johnny’s Auto Trim and Rod shop, also in Alamosa and also a childhood friend of Kevin Simpson, Cleave Simpson’s younger brother. “I remember this truck from a very young age,” said Martin. “Cleave was the older brother with the bitchin’ ride. When he asked if I would bring the car back to life, I was honored.” This isn’t Martin’s first rodeo. Around the same time Cleave approached him to do the build he happened to be in the middle of one of the biggest projects of his career, a Corvette he called Elegance. This tour de force received accolades from the Detroit Autorama when they named it one of the Great 8 builds Martin eventually took Elegance to Barret-Jackson with no reserve and pulled down a whopping $412,000 for his pristine creation. The same type of effort and then some has gone into Cleave’s project, being so close to the family and all. Only this time, of course, the vehicle’s not for sale. “I intend to one day hand the truck over to my son Jared,” said Cleave. “But only after I have driven the hell out of it can he pry my hands from the steering wheel.”
This tour de force received accolades from the detroit autorama”
OWNER: Cleave Simpson
BUILDER: Johnny Martin
FRAME: TCI boxed frame with Mustang II front clip
SUSPENSION: Front: Ride Tech upper and lower control arms with 2-inch dropped spindles and Ride Tech Shockwave pneumatic ‘bags; rear: TCI 4-link with panhard bar anchor the Ford 9-inch rearend: Ride Tech coil-over shocks and pneumatic ‘bags
WHEELS: Front: Billet Specialties polished billet aluminum Legacy 17 x 8; rear: Billet Specialties polished billet aluminum Legacy 17×10
TIRES: Front: Michelin Pilot Sport 245/45R-17; rear: Michelin Pilot Sport 335/35R-17
ENGINE: GM Performance 502-ci,500 hp; Street Performance billet aluminum pulley system; Street Performance headers and exhaust; Be Cool aluminum radiator; Billet Specialties valve covers and air cleaner painted body color; GM 700R4 automatic transmission
BODY AND PAINT: Bodywork by Alternative Automotive Design by Wayne Saunders, PPG custom blend Pearl White By Johnny Martin and Emmett Flowers at Santa Fe Paint Company
INTERIOR: ididit chrome tilt steering column; Billet Specialties 14-inch Stiletto half-wrap white steering wheel; Classic Instruments white face gauges; Billet Specialties Profile Street Rod pedal assembly; center waterfall console and upholstery by Johnny Martin at Johnny’s Auto Trim and Rod Shop; custom-made, red leather reupholstered bucket seats by Johnny Martin; dark red carpet
AUDIO: Alpine head unit, amp and speakers