Naughty Spice: Frank Lawrence’s 1948 Custom Chevy Truck

For the past few years, it has been our pleasure to attend the NSRA Western Nationals at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is home to some of the finer things, including country music’s Bakersfield sound, a hotbed of hot rod culture, and 10-percent of the nation’s domestic oil production. The area is filled with good old hard working, blue collar folks from the oil fields.

I own the truck but Rodger Lee did the work.                 – Frank Lawrence

Bakersfield is also the home of Ironworks Speed & Kustom shop, so it should be no surprise to find one of Rodger Lee’s most popular builds at the NSRA show, parked amongst the other great truck builds from the area. Frank and Mary Lawrence’s 1948 five-window Chevy truck looked very familiar to us, so we stopped to take a few photos. Frank Lawrence greeted us and started to take our crew on a guided trip around the truck.

“Who’s build is this?” we asked. “Well, I own the truck but Rodger Lee did the work,” said Frank. “Rodger Lee is a great builder, and a nice guy. I love the stuff he does,” we responded as we shot photos. Out of our peripheral vision we could see this body moving closer and closer to the truck as we were shooting photos.

The five-window cab allows the driver to see all around, and it also allows fans to see in to the immaculate interior. The brown leather panels and seats really add to the visual experience.

It is not uncommon to have bystanders get into the photo zone and even enter the photographer’s personal space as we work – but this body was getting too close. Pulling the camera down and looking directly over at the bystander, we saw the smiling face of Rodger Lee. As it turns out, Rodger’s sense of humor is as well developed as his sense of customizing.

A Huge Pile Of Parts

Frank Lawrence’s manufacturing business is three or four blocks away from Ironworks Speed and Kustom shop, so Frank was heavily involved in the build since he was able to stop by frequently. It was apparent that Frank was an encouraging spectator more than a bothersome micromanager by the current relationship the car owner and car builder have with each other. There is a mutual respect between the two that really makes this build work on higher level.

The brown leather is offset with the naughty spice paint and traditionally-styled gauges.

The team began with a “huge pile of parts,” mainly consisting of a couple of truck cabs, several doors, and a couple more hoods. The Ironworks crew found some NOS long bed sides and running boards, then added a some build-worthy front and rear fenders that helped start forming the foundation of the hauler’s body.

The grille was crafted so that the lines followed the hood lines, with the center protrusion gradually narrowing down toward the bottom.

Adding a reproduction tailgate and bed front, the team then combined parts of three different grilles to complete the truck’s custom grille mods. “Come here and take a look from the front,” Frank instructed. “See how the side lines narrow as it goes down?” he asked. “The grille was narrowed one-inch on each side in a tapering fashion to follow the hood line,” said Rodger.

Details, Details, Details

Rodger stated that the truck was chopped 1-1/2 inches, and the cab was lengthened by 3 inches. The cab, hood, and bed were sectioned 1-3/4 inches, which is barely noticeable with a detailed eye, but makes a huge difference in the overall look. That is a clear indicator that everything was done with the proper proportions, maintaining a great overall look. We’ve all seen panel sectioning gone wrong before, but this is a perfect example of sectioning done right.

The wood bed planks tip up to allow access to the goodies below.

According to Rodger, the running boards were shortened, tapered, and brought closer to the bottom of the cab. The front fenders were massaged and massively reworked by sectioning the fender to bring the bottom up to meet the cab’s lines, then they reshaped the wheel openings. The finesse came in when the team altered the fender to allow the highly custom grille to bolt directly to the front fenders. The inner fenders were also reworked to allow the air intake to come through the fender.

Powered by a 376ci LSX engine with a Magnuson supercharger, the truck doesn't want for power.

The truck’s turn signals are from a 1957 Chevrolet 3100 truck, while the front bumper is a heavily modified piece taken from a 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia economy car. The rear bumper is from a 1970 Chevrolet stepside truck that has been reworked by narrowing and sectioning the bumper. Rodger claims that there are over 80 body modifications on the truck alone, and it took more than 15 months to complete the project.

The truck has already won some of the biggest awards in the hobby.

Initial Awards

After the initial unveiling of the truck at SEMA in 2011, Naughty Spice went on to win the Goodguys Truck of the Year Finalist award at the 2011 Del Mar event. At the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona in 2012, the truck was awarded First in Class and Outstanding Radical, Full Custom, Hand-Built Truck. It received a Pro’s Pick award at the NSRA Western Nationals in Bakersfield the same year. Winding up that year, the truck also received a Builder’s Choice Award at the Goodguys Columbus and Pleasanton events. Naughty Spice ended up taking the 2012 Truck of the Year (Early) for the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association.


  • Engine: 376ci LSX with a Magnuson supercharger
  • Transmission: 4L60E
  • Chassis: Ironworks custom chassis with Schott wheels
  • Interior: Tan leather done by Ron Mangus
  • Rearend: GM 12-bolt with Currie 31-spline axles.
  • Third Member: GM with 4.10 gears and Eaton limited slip unit
  • Front Suspension: Ironworks IFS with 2.5-inch drop spindles
  • Rear Suspension: No Limit four-link
  • Brakes: Wilwood cross-drilled brake rotors with four-piston forged aluminum calipers
  • Fuel tank: No Limit 18-gallon
  • Paint: Naughty Spice, a sun kissed cinnamon hue

The Ironworks team found some NOS long bed sides and running boards to help start this build. They ended up crafting the hood out of three different hoods.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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