1958 Apache

If you'd like to know how Hammerfab began, this truck has a lot to do with it.  Hammerfab started as a product company creating unique metal working tooling that would help car builders around the world (both novice and pros) add details to their work that sets them apart from most others in the industry.  "It's the details that makes the difference" is the phrase we use at Hammerfab and it's those details that set Levi's 1958 Chevy Apache apart from all others.  The original Crater Maker dimple die was developed to be used on the engine bay on this truck to add strength and style to the fasteners under the hood. 

It was circa 1995 when young Levi acquired this Apache from his late Uncle Billy.  The truck had been sitting out behind his house along with two bel air hard tops in Holt, MO for years.  The truck was not in great shape but it still managed to capture the imagination of the young Levi.  Uncle Billy, along with Levi's father Dennis were both car guys from of old so there were always stories of cool cars from their pasts.  Those stories are what sparked the interest in Levi to build a truck of his own. 

Both Levi's father and uncle worked for General Motors for their entire careers so GM vehicles were the norm in the family.  Uncle Billy gave Levi the choice of either one of the Bel Air hard tops or the truck for a first vehicle and Levi chose the Apache Truck.  There was just something cool about having an old truck, and there still is by the way!

Levi and his dad took the truck home and began disassembling it in the driveway.  "I really had no idea what I was doing but I was learning fast."  The cab and original frame got sand blasted and epoxy primered as a base to start doing some metal repairs to the truck.  Then the truck parts addiction started.  Parts started coming in from Classic Parts of America right down the road in Kansas City, MO.  

"Dad and I had slightly different views on the direction the build needed to go", said Levi. "Dad wanted to "restore" the truck to original but I had visions of a cool, low, fast, custom truck running through my veins."  It was time for Levi to go to school so his other Uncle John hauled the truck out to Wyo Tech in Laramie Wyoming where Levi learned the basics of metal working, i.e., shaping, welding, chassis fabrication, high performance engines, custom painting, and even business school.  The Apache soon became Levi's class project.  Getting all your school comps done meant you had extra time to get out in the shop to work on your ride for extra credit.  In that time (2000-2001) the truck received a new front clip from a 1978 Trans am as well as a C-notched rear frame and the beginnings of some 3" widened fenders.  Stuffing some "meats" under the back was always part of the plan!

After returning to KC from school Levi dreamed of landing a career in a top hot rod shop anywhere in the country.  So he sent around 50 resumes to well know shops such as, Foose Design, Pinkees Rod Shop, Rad Rides by Troy, Boyd Coddington, Posies Street Rods, Wood N Carr, etc.  After months of waiting for replies, Levi only heard back from a few of these top builders and all of them politely declined the opportunity.  So Levi searched for work in the local KC area where he ended up working for Suburban Body Shop in Meriam, KS during the day and V8 Rod shop at night in Blue Springs, MO.  Soon he transitioned to a TIG welding job at Carriage Works in Grandview, MO while still working for V8 Rod Shop at night.  During this time Levi attended the World of Wheels car show in Kansas City where he was introduced to Rad Rides by Troy and the infamous "Chicayne".  Most people in the custom car industry are well aware of this beast of a car.  It is a twin turbo 62 biscayne built to a high level that to this day has stood the test of time.  Moose invited young Levi to sit in the car and enjoy the experience of the Eagles Live on DVD with surround sound Diamond Audio stereo.  After handing Moose a resume along with several sample TIG weld coupons, Moose relayed the inquiry for a job to the boss man Troy Trepanier. 

Long story short, Levi landed a "dream job" of working for the best of the best but it meant moving to Manteno, IL just south of Chicago.  And you guessed it, the truck was headed that way as well.  The Apache had to go in storage for a few years but it eventually saw the light of day again and some major mods were done while working at Troys such as the custom 14ga pullmaxed firewall, fully welded interior seams and body worked interior (by Levi) and painter Warren Lewis helped spray the bed liner on the bottom of the cab. 

After 8.5 years at Troys, it was time for a change for Levi and his wife, Kristine.  They decided to move to Austin Texas for an opportunity to work for another shop where Levi would hone his fabrication skills and several other skills even further.  This 5 year span would better help prepare Levi for his next step of starting and building not only this truck but a successful business of his own, Hammerfab. 

In late 2016 Hammerfab had it's own building in Liberty Hill, Texas.  Finally, time to get the Apache out of storage and put it to use for promoting the new business.  Over the next two years Levi would put in lots of extra hours working on his own truck all while gaining new clients and keeping their builds going at the same time.  Eventually the goal of taking it to SEMA '19 was in sight so Levi buckled down, got some key people involved like Jay Schluter for the custom seat, Donnie Finger for some initial body work, and Vastines Paint Garage for the final paint job, John Wrights Custom Chrome plating, AM Hot Rod Glass, Vintage Air, Leslie Webb Designs, and many more.

There was a last minute decision to submit the truck for a GM design award for the 2019 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada so Levi got the paper work in and submitted photos of unfinished but promising build.  The truck was granted a spot in the HRIA booth at the show which is a prime spot for new builders looking to gain the right kind of exposure.  The truck was finished but not without the typical SEMA crunch deadline. 

While heading off to SEMA in the wee hours of the morning all was good and the crew was tired but excited to have a chance at a major award not to mention a great spot inside the SEMA show.  After stopping 10 minutes down the road to double check the straps some shocking news was revealed.  The truck shifted inside the trailer and one of the fenders got damaged by rubbing up against the door of the trailer, taking the paint all the way down to the primer!  Can you imagine the sense of defeat after all the hours and determination to get this far only to settle for the lose?  No way, not this time!  Sleep will have to wait.

 Immediately Levi reached out to several people who might be able to help repair the fender on the way to Las Vegas or in Las Vegas prior to move in day (2 days).  Levi was able to link up with a fellow painter Heath from Cim Tex Rods in Jarell, Texas who was flying in on Saturday and was eager to help save the day.  Starting at about 1pm on Saturday and ending at about 12 midnight, Heath was able to do an amazing blend repair on the truck fender all while still inside the trailer and with limited shop supplies and no paint booth or bake capabilities.  A diesel shop heater was used to cure the fresh paint! That evening Levi got a call from Valspar paint saying they would like to do a photo shoot of the freshly finished truck out in the dry lake beds the following morning!  No pressure whatsoever!

With the repair completed just in the nick of time we made it to the photo shoot the next morning and Tim Sutton Photography captured some of these amazing shots of the truck.  This was the first time the dream of building a nice truck, a first truck, a 25 year long build, a father-son-uncle project, finally came to become reality.  It was surreal!  The truck made it to the show and a couple days later it was awarded the Chevrolet Performance GM Design Award for Truck of the Year for 2019.  A huge billet C8 Corvette trophy was the hardware along with a large high quality print of the truck by Anthony Ross Tyler Photography.  The truck has gone on to grace the pages of Wheel Hub Magazine (Spring 2020), Goodguys Gazette, It received a Goodguys Pro's Pick in 2021 (amidst Covid), and most recently came out in the May 2022 issue of Street Trucks Magazine.