The Perfect Patina: Chris Yoder’s Supercharged Chevy 3100 Finds New Life

In the aftermarket automotive world, there are all types of builds and products. Just take a peek into the classic car sector, and you’ll find anything from factory restorations to resto-mod builds that bring both worlds together and fuse them into a distinctive vehicle. What about something that’s not a complete restoration, but possesses that modern technology feeling that we all love? Step into the realm of Patina, where the factory vehicle paint used—in typically faded, but acceptable condition—accents whatever shape the builder found and comes together with updated underpinnings to create a memorable, unique finished product. Chris Yoder of Hickory, NC, has a passion for this particular look. Chris found his 1952 Chevrolet 3100 truck in an old tobacco barn, quietly waiting to be brought back to life.

The body had mounds of dust on it but no rust, and the build process, which took a year and a half, began in earnest. Drivability is Chris’ primary concern, and the appearance took on secondary importance; he wasn’t even worried about scratches at all. Back at the shop, he—along with his father and brothers—started on the project he’d been dreaming of since the tender age of five. It wouldn’t be his first rodeo, though, as he grew up in the garage with his grandpa, working hands-on with all sorts of projects. He had his first build experience with his dad’s 1956 Ford F100, which they finished together.

First and foremost, his mind was made up that although he wanted to be able to drive the 3100 anywhere, it needed to be slammed on the ground. The whole family is incredibly talented, and his brother owns Smitty’s Speed Shop Inc., which is where all the magic happens. They decided that the old frame had to go, and he chose a replacement frame from a 1987 Chevy S-10, which was subsequently shortened in-house to achieve a 113-inch wheelbase. A full bagged suspension came to mind to get that stance he was after. A built GM 10-bolt rear end is held in place by a complete hand-fabricated rear suspension, which features a triangulated four-link setup designed around Slam Specialties airbags. Out front, Slam Specialties bags hang off the factory S-10 independent front suspension and are mated with 2-inch drop spindles from Belltech. Ridetech shocks accompany both the front and rear bags to keep the suspension under control. The whole system is plumbed with copper tubing, which runs to an Accuair VU4 manifold and is controlled by an AVS switch box.

The patina look comes together on the outside, as the 3100 Chevy lays down on Billet Specialties Smoothies, which cater to that classic throwback look. When I walk around Chris’ 3100, all I see is what a fantastic job the boys have done with its construction. The factory body panels flow seamlessly together thanks to the handcrafted body and bumper mounts. I enjoyed just stepping back and taking all the little details in until Chris eagerly took me around to the back and popped open the custom tilt bed. I was impressed with the skills displayed in the truck’s construction.

I first saw Chris’ truck while some friends and I were walking around a car show held at Kooks Custom Headers here in North Carolina. My buddy smiled and said, “I think you’ll like this one.” I walked over to introduce myself—gazing over the menacing laid out stance—and as the hood was open, a small-block Chevy came to mind. But no, as I’ve stated before, Chris wanted a driver, and nothing appears to be suited better in the modern aftermarket automotive industry than an LS swap. The 3100 does not use just any LS though: a GM LS2 crate motor with an LSA blower is sitting on top. He didn’t stop there, though, because who wants a cruiser without a little pep in its step?

Tick Performance tore apart the stock LS2 and replaced the factory cam with their custom-spec blower cam, while the LSA blower got a porting job done by Jokerz Performance. To support the extra horsepower the drivetrain will see, Fuel Injector Clinic supplied 850cc injectors while a factory S-10 fuel tank feeds the engine. Once the drivetrain was fitted into place between the frame rails, getting the exhaust fitment settled wasn’t the most straightforward task.

Jonathan from Tick and Nigel from Brutal Speed and Tuning worked out the kinks in the build. A set of modified S-10 mid-length swap headers from Hedman get the supercharged 3100’s exhaust out quickly. A completely custom 2.5-inch stainless exhaust was built to clear everything, with Vibrant Performance resonators and Black Widowmaker mufflers inline. They were able to get the exhaust note just right; it will let people know that Chris is coming—and going—but not be annoying when he is behind the wheel to drive long distances. With Nigel’s tuning on the dyno, the truck put down a robust 538 rear-wheel horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to put a smile on Chris’ face.

Driving an automatic transmission vehicle gets downright dull. It seems that Chris agrees, which is why he opted for a Tick Performance-built Stage 2 T-56 six-speed transmission, an unusual find in a vehicle such as this. Bringing the heavy Chevy to a halt are Wilwood two-piston calipers mounted around 11-inch rotors.

Chris and his family put just as much time into the interior of the 3100 as they did to the exterior and powertrain, and it’s equally as stunning. The work—all of it, right down to the wiring—was done by either him or by a family member. When sitting behind the wheel, you hold onto a Billet Specialties steering wheel, while sitting on a repurposed nightshade leather-covered bench seat.

Down below, your feet rest on German square-weave leather in honey brown while the door panels are covered in custom leather and have custom guitar amp inserts built into them. The dash looks clean and smooth, and the gauges flow well with the rest of the interior, all done by Chris himself. He even took the extra time to install and wire an entire Polk Audio sound system complete with a 10-inch subwoofer. The final touch to modernize the 3100’s creature comforts is the Vintage Air HVAC system, great for keeping the interior cool on those hot and humid North Carolina days.

It’s amazing what a few sets of talented hands and bright minds can accomplish. Chris, his family, and friends spent many long nights and 12-hour days bringing this build to life, and he says there’s nothing in the world he would do to change that.

In 2018 he and his dad successfully completed the Hot Rod Power Tour as a long hauler—which is no small achievement! He’ll forever cherish the memories of quality time spent with family during the build process of the 3100. Chris appreciates things that came from this era, a time where pride in your work was everything. He’s learned a lot from this build, including the importance of patience during the design and assembly process. He’ll carry this knowledge over into his next build, which is already underway.

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