Mike Warren’s 1997 Chevy C3500 Transformation

Auto Shop is Not Dead

In the heart of a bustling high school, amidst the clang of lockers and chatter of students, there is a man like no other: Mike Warren, the Career Technical Education/auto shop teacher. With Mr. Warren’s passion for all things automotive, he’s the kind of teacher who leaves a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to be in his class.

We don’t think anyone would disagree that teachers are among the most unsung heroes out there. From tons of unpaid hours to putting in their own financial resources to make sure their students don’t go without, they go the extra mile school day after school day. Because of this, free time is pretty much nonexistent during the school year.

Mike pitched the idea to his students, and their eyes lit up with excitement. They were more than eager to get their hands dirty and help bring Mike’s vision to life.

And since Mike is a car guy and teaches others about the world of automotive repair and customization, it makes sense that he was itching to dig into another project—if he could just find the time! Summers came and went, but with a family of his own, it was easy to forgo personal projects in order to spend much-needed time with his wife and kids.

Then one day, inspiration struck. Why not turn this dream into a collective effort, involving his high school students in the process? Mike pitched the idea to his students, and their eyes lit up with excitement. They were more than eager to get their hands dirty and help bring Mike’s vision to life.

HANDS-ON TEACHING, LEARNING

The school’s auto shop transformed into a bustling hub of creativity and camaraderie. The students dove into the project with newfound enthusiasm, each one contributing their unique skills and ideas. Under Mike’s guidance, they learned the value of precision, the importance of patience, and the joy of working together as a team.

Jumping ahead a bit, one of the first things that a lot of people notice right off the bat when looking at Mike’s truck is the set of running lights just above the windshield. After all, what is a set of running lights doing on a half-ton truck? Well, it’s actually the only remaining clue that this ‘97 Chevy crew cab used to be a one-ton! Converting to all half-ton parts would be just one piece of the giant puzzle that Mike and his merry crew would need to tackle before calling the project done.

The challenges were real, of course. They faced setbacks and roadblocks along the way, but Mike’s unwavering support and encouragement kept them going. He taught them that failure was just a pit stop on the road to success, and that with determination, they could overcome any obstacle. Before long, the suspension on the custom chassis was carefully treated to airbags at each corner, and a body drop was incorporated for maximum lowness.

DIGGING INTO THE DETAILS

Custom bodywork was next on the class schedule, resulting in shaved handles, shaved third brake light, shaved gas door, front and rear wheel tubs, and custom sheetmetal throughout the bed. Oh, and we’re sure you didn’t miss that ’65 Chevy dash swap! Before too long, the truck was ready for its Grabber Blue paint, which was applied by both Mike and his students.

The addition of the ’65 dashboard kind of made the rest of the interior a bit bland in comparison, and so a custom center console was constructed with plenty of billet thrown in to brighten things up. TMI bucket seats, upholstered in brown vinyl, replaced the well-worn front and rear bench seats.

The final touch before rolling the truck out of the workshop was bolting on the large and in-charge staggered 24-inch MHT wheels, which were wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion tires. With a rebuilt 454 under the hood, the Chevy rumbled to life and began its new life as one of the baddest show trucks to hit Florida in recent years.

Mike’s Chevy has won a bunch of awards since its completion, including the Street Trucks “Top OBS” award at last year’s Blood Drag, all thanks to the A+ determination of his students.


TRUCK SPECS

OWNER

Mike Warren
Port St. Lucie, FL
1997 Chevy C3500

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION

  • Custom built chassis
  • 1/2-ton conversion from one-ton
  • Custom 4-link
  • Air Lift Dominator airbags
  • Ruff Stuff brake master cylinder
  • Stainless steel brake lines
  • Tanks, Inc. ’68 Ford Mustang fuel tank
  • All stainless steel bolts

WHEELS & TIRES

  • 24-inch MHT wheels
  • 24-inch Pirelli Scorpion tires

ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN

  • Rebuilt 454 engine, bored .040 over
  • Edelbrock camshaft
  • Edelbrock intake manifold
  • MSD HEI ignition
  • Billet Specialties and Lokar billet accessories
  • All fittings converted to -AN
  • Stainless steel headers
  • Custom 2.5-inch exhaust
  • 4L80E transmission with shift kit
  • Lokar shifter
  • Custom driveshaft w/Spicer U-joints
  • Limited slip differential

BODY & PAINT

  • TYC headlights
  • Sonar taillights
  • Rear roll pan
  • Custom front and rear wheel tubs
  • Shaved door handles and tailgate handle
  • Shaved third brake light
  • Shaved gas door
  • Custom sheetmetal bed floor
  • PPG Grabber Blue paint

INTERIOR & STEREO

  • TMI bucket seats front and rear, brown vinyl
  • Custom center console
  • 1965 Chevy C10 dashboard
  • Custom billet accessories
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • Forever Sharp steering wheel
  • Stinger stereo head unit
  • Kicker speakers and amplifiers

 

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