My love of Cameos began in 1969. While I didn’t know it at the time it developed into a wonderful relationship that has lasted over 44 years. I purchased my 1958 Cameo from an acquaintance in Orangevale, California for $300. It was a classic basket case. Over the next 18 years it was utilized strictly as a work truck, which included hauling firewood out of the California woods. Originally equipped with a stock 283 and a “three on the tree,” it has developed over the years to a 345 horsepower LS1 coupled to a 4L60E transmission.
After my retirement as an aircraft mechanic for the Air Force I began restoration on the Cameo with a complete body and custom paint restoration. During the next 30 years no expenses were spared to upgrade this classic rare Cameo. Upgrades include but are not limited to Camaro front end clip, coil over suspension, cruise, power brakes, windows, and antennae. A custom leather interior is accentuated by tilt steering, VDO analogue instruments and vintage air conditioning. The bed of the truck is comprised of custom red oak with stainless steel runners and bolts. A locking hard tonneau cover provides security for items transported in the bed.
During the next 20 years our Cameo garnered hundreds of trophies at local, regional, and inter-state car shows. Perhaps the most memorable was winning the Police Chief’s trophy at Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada.
While all the custom upgrades would put this Cameo in a “resto-mod” category, the body remains in a pristine original show-quality condition.
Due to recent physical limitations, I am forced to sell one of the loves of my life and hopefully purchase a 1967 Chevelle which is closer to the ground! I am confident the future owner of this fine classic Cameo will love it as much as I did. More info can be found at classiccars.com or call Duayne at 916-708-2364.
Duayne Hart #0333 Folsom, CA 95630
My Chevy Cameo is a six-cylinder 235 straight shift. My brother's father-in-law, Ed Tune, was the second owner of this truck. Ed and his family lived in the Inglewood section of Nashville, Tennessee. We don't know who the original owner was, but Ed purchased the truck in the early '60s mostly to drive back and forth to his job with L&N Railroad. Ed took good care of his truck and kept it in his garage as much as possible. Ed's daughter, Julie, who became my sister-in-law, occasionally had to drive the truck to and from Litton High School. Julie was not very happy about having to drive the truck to school mainly because often the three-speed on the column would stick and she would have to get under the hood to fix it and get dirty. Julie married my brother John Haley in 1965. By then Julie had decided she liked the truck after all and Ed gave it to her. In 1972 John started a new business, Southeastern Telecom, and the Cameo became the first company truck hauling telephone cable and equipment all around the Nashville area. The business was successful and after one year, the Cameo was replaced with a real company truck. So in 1973 the Cameo was parked in the Haley's basement where is stayed, except for an occasional trip to take trash to the landfill, until 1988 when I was fortunate enough to buy it from John and Julie. When I acquired the truck it was complete. Nothing was missing. I think finding a Cameo in this condition is most unusual. I made the decision to keep the truck as original as possible. I have replaced some of the chrome with used chrome that is in better condition than what I replaced including the hood bird, bumper guards, hubcaps, vent windows, and the 3100 emblem. I have added a used, original visor. The interior of the truck is untouched except the seat which had deteriorated more than any other part of the truck. I searched for an original seat in good condition with the original upholstery fabric without success. So I had the seat recovered in red fabric as close to the original as I could find. I would still like to find the original fabric for the seat and an original floor mat.
When I take my truck to car shows, people tell me they appreciate that I have kept it original and encourage me to keep it that way. I get a lot of thumbs up. I like watching others enjoy my truck.
Jack Wedekind #0255 Hendersonville, TN
James A. Alwine #0499 1955 Cameo Mexico, Indiana
John Olgin #0518 Gilbert, Arizona
The 57 Cameo pictured is a long story while not beginning as an original, has been together with all the parts to make it very complete. Originally it was a 56 stepside. The grill and hood were first replaced and Gary Rich of Washington supplied most of the bed and rear bumper. My dear wife gets very nervous during these truck builds (having gone through two of them) when the UPS guy starts delivering parts on a regular basis. She says all she can think of is the Johnny Cash song of building a car one piece at a time. Johnny is buried just down the road. Most of the bed chrome pieces were rechromed. A Camaro front and rear end were installed. The third tailgate was finally good enough to repair. The rear window had to be cut out to accommodate the big back window and then the glass had to be ground down to fit (aftermarket imported parts aren't always a perfect fit). A low mileage 2006 wrecked Corvette was acquired and the engine and transmission from this was swapped out. Seats from a VW Jetta were reupholstered and installed. Again with the help of a very understanding wife, the colors for the interior and exterior were chosen. The entire project took over four years but it now is a classic vehicle with all modern conveniences including Vintage Air. The Corvette power plant combined with disc brakes all the way around gives it plenty of go and stop. The first public viewing at a local car show in June of 2013 brought a great gathering of men and resulted in a Best of Show.
It's a great truck for cruising. You get lots of thumbs up. It's also certainly good enough to gather attention on the show circuit. Thanks to all the team it took to put it together especially the Main Man Lawrence Holler of Union Hill Paint and Body. You really find some friends in projects like this as it takes a lot of bailing out to get to the end result.
Reggie Mudd #0463 Gallatin, Tennessee
1956 Cameo Fred Lemon #0470 Tulsa, OK
I am the fifth owner of the truck, it is originally a North Carolina truck. It left the Atlanta, Georgia, facilities on September 14, 1956, and was sold to the first owner on September 19, 1956. The original owner kept the truck until April 1975, then it went to the second owner also in North Carolina. In October 1979 it went to Kingsport, Tennessee, where it stayed until June 1983. From there it went to Ironton, Ohio, then I got it on February 22, 2006.
If you want anymore historical information on the truck, let me know. I also have the original title indicating that this is a true Cameo.
Lon S. Patton #0411
This 1957 Cameo was purchased new by James D. Henn at Town Auto Company, 1211 Hanover Ave, Allentown, PA. The dealership changed owners several times throughout the years. It became Booty Chevrolet, then Bennett Chevrolet, then Sands Chevrolet (2008).
Mr. Henn kept the truck at his ESSO gas station, on the lift in the garage. Over the years, his children would wax the truck often, which yellowed the paint somewhat. When Mr. Henn got out of the gas station business, he no longer had a garage to store his truck in, so he had it stored at a friends house for a few years. Mr. Henn lost storage around 1981, at which time it was moved to the garage of Mr. Robert Hess (the future 2nd owner).
Mr. Henn passed away in 1990, and then Mr. Hess purchased the Cameo from the estate of the original owner. At this time only 27,000 miles had been logged. Mr. Hess cleaned/painted the inside-front fenders black, and painted the engine blue. He took the truck to many local car shows over the following years.
I became the 3rd owner in May 2009, with mileage showing 29,600. The only changes that I have made were to rebuild the original carburator and replace the two outside mirror heads. All of the above mentioned history was obtained from the son of Mr. Hess, who assisted the sale and transfer. The Cameo runs great, and I drive it occasionally in the winter months in Florida.
Tim Lincoln #0365
I'm currently working on a 1957 Cameo project. It is a vintage Triple A truck from Southern California Service Patrol. I have been in contact with So. Ca. AAA archives department and they have sent me a lot of great information about these trucks they had back in the day. I will send you a picture of what one of the trucks looked like and I will send you pictures of my restoration. Dave Smart #0405
My ’57 Cameo V8 Hydro - This truck was purchased new by Robert Coleman of Vaughn, New Mexico when he traded another Chevrolet for it. In 1959, the truck was purchased by Tom Fendy of Clovis, New Mexico, who owned it until 1986 or 1987. A man name Mr. Smith then purchased it and drove the truck to Carl Weiss of Odessa, Texas for restoration work, which was completed in August 1987. I purchased the truck in 1997. Bob Soule’ #0298, Fallon, Nevada
Celebrating 100 Years of Chevrolet By Tom Harmes #0399
Owners of General Motors vehicles share much enjoyment and appreciation for old iron produced by the world leader of the automobile. The General is my first choice when it comes to seeking out classics, and trucks certainly tweak my interest.
Chevrolet Motor Division has set the bar high and has created a truck with such styling that it is still foremost in design and appeal.
The Cameo produced from 1955 thru mid year 1958 was the first truck to incorporate slab sides in place of fenders for its truck box. Not only slab sides but formed from fiberglass and this design was a fore runner for all trucks that followed.
This 1958 Cameo is truly a survivor as it shows low mileage and absolutely no sign of repair or damage for its 53 years since it first left the assembly line as a true 3124 Cameo model. The tartan turquoise and onyx black color scheme seems to attract interest wherever it goes. This truck is truly a pleasure to drive as it shifts very smoothly through its 3 speed manual transmission with a strong 235 cu. ins. 6 cyl. engine.
Chevrolet motor division produced 1405 Cameo proto type models for 1958 before changing to full steel box sides half way through the year. This design has truly set the stage for all truck beds designers to follow as most trucks of the day have slab (fleet) sides.
Not only was the fiberglass bed side innovative, but designers also incorporated a big clear view back glass that wrapped around the cab corner to truly give these trucks curb appeal.
Discreet car owner and collectors truly see the quality and superb appeal of these iconic designed vehicles and current retail prices attest to a job well done by Chevrolet Motor Division. The 100th anniversary of the world’s largest automobile manufacturer is proof that Chevrolet had car enthusiasts in mind when they designed and produced the Cameo truck.
Although I have several General Motors vehicles this Cameo has to rank high with me as it shows well and gets a thumbs up wherever it goes. Driving my Cameo is truly a pleasure as the cab is comfortable and bright with its large visible glass area and high seat that eases wheeling the large steering wheel. The iron horse 235, 6 cyl. engine is coupled to a stout 4:11 gear differential that produces lots of power and minimum shifting.
General Motors Chevrolet Division ranks high in their creative design and production of vehicle over the last 100 years and has created a niche for car lovers and collectors to share and enjoy.
1958 Chevy Cameo Dean Meyer #0483 Cleo Springs, CO
This truck has served by family for years and is still hanging in there. I have found most Cameo owners are very friendly and will share any help you might need plus just out and out being nice people. I met Mr. Norm Correll, who is one of your members. Super nice guy! Thank you.
Bob Heilman #0489 Apple Valley, CA
I was riding my motorcycle out in the country in 2000 when out of the corner of my eye I saw this 55 GMC black beauty sitting on a grassy knoll with a For Sale sign on it. I had admired Chevy Cameo pickups for many years, starting in the late 50’s when I saw one in a watermelon field in So Cal, but had no idea GMC made a look-a-like. I wasn’t in sound financial shape to purchase right then. However, after three days of debate, I realized how rare of a find this was and finally placed the call to the seller, only to learn it had already been sold on eBay. The seller said the purchaser was not acting responsibly in sending the check and the first one to present the check would drive away with the pickup. I quickly made some arrangements to borrow money and made the 2 hr drive the following day to complete the sale.
The pickup was restored between 1978-1980 in The Dalles Oregon, using a black and silver scheme. The Olds engine and hydromatic transmission were replaced with a ’72 Chevy 350 cubic inch engine and 3 speed column shift. Many dealer options were added during the restoration: inside right hand visor, armrests, original radio, deluxe fresh air heater, outside original mirror arms, outside sun visor, electric wipers, and hood ornament. The owner used the pickup to get married in, and then sold it to make a down payment on their home.
Following the purchase in 1986, the pickup was taken to Alaska for three years in storage, and then returned to a rural area an hour north of Seattle. An admiring neighbor purchased the pickup in 1998, adding "Rhino-liner" to the sides of the pickup bed, custom wheels, a throaty-baritone exhaust, and a CD player with 5 speaker sound system.
I purchased the pickup in 2000 and took a leaf spring out of the front springs to soften the ride. A complete brake system replacement, including front wheel bearings, was performed in September 2009. With mixed feelings, I’m selling because I’m entering a new phase in my life. I will miss the "thumbs up" from many casual admirers, and will hold on to the memory of the little girl holding her mother’s hand while walking in the store parking lot who said, "Cool twuck mommy".
Gene Garat #0352
I have a 1955 Cameo which I bought in 1981. It was a Tennessee truck that was flipped in a snow bank. I restored it from 1981 to 1985 and about 10 years ago repainted it back to include the red in all the right places. It is a 6 cylinder 4 speed hydromatic. It’s great for driving in the summertime.
I bought a 1956 GMC Suburban from a local junkyard in 1984 for parts to help in the rebuilding of the Cameo. It was too nice to be a parts truck so I restored it from 1995 to 2004. It was a frame-off restoration with a V-8 4 speed hydromatic.
Both are stock but the Suburban has AM/FM radio and rims from a 1975 GMC. I prefer to drive the GMC Suburban. Maybe I will do a frame-off restoration on the Cameo in a few years. I’m working on several others right now.
I enjoy reading the newsletters and plan on staying a member of the club. Thanks.
Donald F. Brown #0429
Since I'm about 99.9% finished with a two and a half year complete body off restoration of my Cameo, I thought I would send you some pictures of it. I have all the original documentation such as the original registration, original sales contract and original insurance contract. It was quite a project since it was a home for several generations of desert rats for about 15 years. This truck was originally purchased in Bellflower California by the father of one of my 6th grade class mates and I remember seeing it when he picked him up from school after our Christmas vacation in January 1957. I saw the truck up through our high school days then lost track of it. I found it around 1990 and had visions of it in my garage completely restored. I couldn't talk my old time school friend out of it until 2006 after he has some serious medical problems and he realized he wouldn't be able to restore it himself. I purchased it in September 06 and immediately started the restoration. That's the original plate issued to it in December 1956 as shown on the original registration. I let my friend drive it about a month ago and he said it sounds, rides and drives just like he remembers it when it was new, however, he said it looked better now than it did in the 50's.
Thanks for letting me share my truck with you.
Norm Correll #0427
This is a picture of my ‘55 GMC Suburban. I’ve had the truck since 1972 when I bought it for $500 dollars off a soldier stationed at Fort Dix, N.J. It had a 3-speed 248 Pontiac engine and was painted dark blue on the outside and gold on the inside. I believe the gold was original colors. Being 22 years old at the time and not thinking of the future, out came the 3-speed and 248 and in went a 4-speed and a 283. I drove it until 1982 when the restoration began. I soon learned that this is an expensive hobby, if you want it done right. Chrome was all done by Martin’s of Phila. Show quality and we all know how expensive that is. The body had rust in all the typical places and like I said I wanted it done right so I found Tom Kristoff of Good Earth in Warminster, PA to do the body work. He cut out the bad parts and welled in new sheet metal and leaded it. Beautiful work! I did the tearing down of the truck, sanding and painting of the frame, rebuilding of the 283 motor and wood in rear bed. I left the 283 4-speed in for a little more get up and go and I painted it color that I liked. Three years ago I found another 248 engine and transmission from a ‘55 GMC 3/4 ton truck and stored that away in the corner of the garage just in case another 20 years or so I change the truck back to original.
Well it was done in the spring of ‘95 after 13 years of piece-by-piece restoration. I have all the receipts in a large manilla envelope but I have never totaled all up... why ruin it? I don’t drive it as much as I’d like to. It’s too nice and already I had a stone or something from the road take a nice nickel-size chip out of the hood. I miss the old beat-up blue truck that I used to drive everywhere and use for work and camping. Who knows? If i keep the truck for another 25 years, I just might go full circle with it.
Keep on Truckin’
...Bob Kleinhans, Member #0143
I purchased this Cameo in 1991. I am now the third owner.
It was originally manufactured in Kansas City and sold by Bradley Chevrolet Co., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. It was then delivered to Barnes-Manley Laundry and Dry Cleaners, Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 6, 1958. After the cleaners was sold, the truck was purchased at auction by a broker and I later bought it from him.
The Cameo is V-8-283 Cu. In. engine with a Hydro-matic transmission, RPO 447A, Paint 729C which is Golden Yellow with Jet Black. The paint we used is base-coat-clear coat Chroma Premier by Dupont.
I did the disassembly and assembly and the paint and body work was done by Coblentz Collision of Wagoner, Oklahoma.
…John & Carolyn Penner, Member #0120
My cameo story. My girl friend and I were at fall Carlise when we spotted some bed sides for sale and she said, “Where’s the rest of the truck?” The guy that had the parts said he had one in New Hampshire that he would sell. So we went to New Hampshire to see and buy the truck. He said it had belonged to a pit boss in Las Vegas and it had been restored in the 70s. He used the truck to tow his ‘56 Cameo show truck to shows (picture that a ‘57 Cameo towing a ‘56 Cameo down the road on a tow dolly). I drove it home - 380 miles - then tore it apart for a frame off restoration. I tried to restore it as original as I could except for the motor, transmission and rear end. It wins at all shows and we love the attention it gets. We now own a ‘58 Cameo driver and a ‘55 in pieces, another ‘57 we are doing in white/red now, and another ‘58 shell.
Dean has a 1957 Cameo V-8 Hydromatic truck with a 350/350. His frame off restoration took four and a half years to complete. Since its completion in July of 2006, the Cameo has had six first place showings. He also won First Place 1957 Trailered Custom Truck (963 out of 1000 points – Gold) at the CCI/WCC 33rd Annual Convention in Hagerstown, Maryland, July 4-8, 2007.
Dean Russell #0367
My wife bought the truck for my Christmas gift in 1967. We are the second owners. The truck only had 18,000 miles at purchase, and only has 32,740 now. The speedometer was reset to 0 when we did a factory restoration on the truck in 1992, and has 740 miles on it now. The truck is totally original except the new factory paint and upholstery which is NOS.
Ernest and Louise Morehead #C144
Tom Harmes, Member #0399, traveled many miles and braved the most severe hurricane season in U.S. history just so he could bring home this 1958 Cameo.
Charlie and Sylvia Morel, Charter Members, restored this 1957 Cameo. Charlie and Sylvia live in Opelousas, LA. Brady Como, Member #0433 from Broussard, LA, recently took ownership of this show quality truck.
Ralph Wescott, Member #0005, owns this collection of 1955 through 1959 GMC Suburban Carriers. His 1957 Palomino and his 1959 are one of a kind trucks.
Kenneth Whitcher, Member #0129, owns this 1955 original Cameo. He also owns this collection of Cameos. From Left to Right: 1955 Cameo, modified; 1956 Cameo, original V-8; 1957 Cameo, original 6 cyl; 1958 Cameo, original V-8; 1955 GMC, original 6 cyl hydromatic; 1956 GMC, original V-8. Kenneth lives in Platteville, WI.
A Cameo owner shared this information with the club. This is a source for tailgate latch handles: