History behind the 1959 Apache Shop Truck, by Thomas Staub (Shown at 2013 RMAS)
To many Hot Rodders and car enthusiasts here in Colorado, the Name Staub and Sons Custom Machining was a known as a small machine shop where guys knew quality machine work always exceed everyone’s expectations. My father and along with my 2 brothers and myself started Staub and Sons in the garage attached to our family home in the early 1980’s. We began our business making custom aluminum dashes, steering column brackets, and miscellaneous hot rodding parts. We later began building custom building 9” Ford rear-ends and shortening axles for custom hot rod and drag racing applications.
As years flew by, Staub and Sons grew and eventually found their way to Sheridan Colorado in a small yellow warehousing facility. My father, the late Tom Staub Sr. spent the last 20 years of his life building and engineering parts and custom applications to many of the hot rods on the road today in Colorado. The door was always open at Staub and Sons. Many of you who knew my father experienced his knowledge, experience, kindness, and generosity first hand. No question was ever turned away. He treated people fairly and the cost of machining was never above anyone’s financial means.
Growing up, us boys spent the majority of our weekends going to the drag races and car shows. Dad carried his Nikon 35 mm camera and took pictures of the cars and trucks he said one day he would build for himself. In fact, most of the people who had worked done by us received our business card. On the front, was a picture of a 1948 COE Custom Crew Cab Truck. It was his dream to build that truck and be able deliver finished parts to his customers around the Front Range. As time flew by, my dad and I never had the chance to build his truck. The work continued to stack-up in the shop and we found ourselves constantly building parts for our customers. Tragically about 3 years ago, my father suffered a untimely stroke which he never was able to recover from and later died. It has been a deficit that I have not been fully able to comprehend or recovery successfully from. In all the years my father and I worked side by side, we rarely had the chance to enjoy a project of our own. Shortly after my father’s death, I decided I would fulfill his dream and began looking for an old Chevy truck to build. One thing was for certain. The truck would have to a Chevy because dad was a Chevy guy through and through.
I remember I had met the man with the ZZ-Top beard only a couple of times while I was working at our shop. Dad had talked about Joe frequently and the builds he had completed. And this is where my journey began with the truck and a 2 life changing events I would never forget.
I had heard Joe originally had a place in Weld County but he had subsequently moved to North Denver. I called around and finally got word Joe was working out a small unit on 28th and Sheridan. I dove there a couple of times in hopes of meeting with him. The timing was never good but we were finally able to link up and I asked if he was interested in helping me build the truck and more importantly to commemorate my father and his dream.
Our first meeting was not what I expected. Joe was very blunt and disinterested with the entire idea. He told me he had heard the news about my dad’s death and that he was not interested in making new friends. Time was money and I was simply wasting his time. It was a typical response I had heard several times before with our customers in similar situations. His time was booked out several months and wasn’t really interested taking on any new projects. To Joe, I was just another dude looking to have some work done and was clueless about what kind of project I wanted to build. A few weeks later I got a call from Joe. He said he would consider taking a look at my truck and that he would give me a few pointers on where to start the project. He was still very much apprehensive and was not ready to make any type of commitment on the project. After a several calls and weeks of bartering we were able to agree on the build.
The 1959 Chevy Apache Shop truck has come with many heart-aches, starting with extracting her from the farm field in Nebraska on one hellish summer day in July. The temperature approached 108 degrees that day as we struggled for a good 5 hours trying to pull her out of the weeds and dirt. I got the truck to the shop and left her parked there for a couple of months as Joe mulled it over about even considering for a build.
When Joe looked at the truck, he was not overly optimistic about the initial build. The truck was in rough shape and needed a lot of work. I told him I was willing to help and would do all the dirty work that was possible. He laughed and said the Apaches were notorious for their body panel rust and various build issues. It was not encouraging needless to say. During this time, I started looking at various pictures of trucks on the web. I remember my dad telling his customers to select the wheels and tires first. Then set the stance that fits the build. With that in mind, I found some pictures of what I thought looked like a classic hot rod truck. From there, the idea of an old “barn find” shop truck began to take shape.
Joe liked the idea. We began to think about what a gritty shop truck should look like. One of the requirements was to give the truck a real mechanical feel and presence. Certain parts needed to be exposed and somewhat unfinished. Dad was into drag racing and so we applied some drag racing-like features like the chrome foil for the floor board and metal door panels. We lowered the truck to extenuate the fat fendered body style of the Apache. We added a rub-through paint job to age it to what it might have looked like if it was left in the sun for a good 30 years. To top off the muscle truck feel, a big block Chrysler 392 Hemi is now under the hood and a 3” exhaust to let everyone know we are driving down the road.
After a year of intense effort, blood, sweat and tears we entered the truck at the Rocky Mountain Auto Show – Crème de la Chrome and took 2nd place in for our respective classification. It was a fantastic experience, but It did not come easy. There was much more heart ache that might have not been known to others. Besides my father’s death, the truck somehow survived the great Colorado flood last summer.
I remember Joe called me on a Friday in a panic telling me his shop was being washed away by the flood. He said the water was flowing hard and that my truck was in serious danger of being submerged under water. I left work in horror trying to make my way to Weld County Colorado. It took several hours trying to navigate on back roads to get to Joe’s shop. At that point, we had sacrificed so much time and effort. It was hard to believe that all was going to be lost in a matter of a few hours.
Fortunately, Joe had some close friends that he called and were there on the scene helping rescue what looked as a complete disaster. The water was already 3’ deep and was still continuing to rise. The guys were great however. They were able to help rescue some of Joe’s belongings and salvage what was left of the various projects that were still inside his shop. Through all this chaos, Joe was able to find some high ground on his property. It was there where Joe’s 1969 Chevy truck and the Apache sat until we were able to pull it out of the rapidly flowing waters. It took some serious effort and some creative driving maneuvers, but we were able to get it out just time.
Needless to say, it was a devastating blow to Joe and his wife Vic not to mention his business. They lost the shop, house, and most of their personal affects in the disaster. With nothing left, Joe and Vic were forced to leave Colorado in search of a new jobs and a place to live. They were literally starting over with nothing but a small duffel bag of some clothes they were able to save. It was gut-wrenching to see it all wash away in a matter of moments.
In the end, the emotions ran deep for everyone. All the effort of relocating a shop back to Weld County was tough enough. But to have it all taken away by an event that was completely out of his control was simply unbelievable. Part of the reason to enter the truck at the Rocky Mountain Auto Show was partly for my dad but for Joe as well. It was the right thing. We had to let people know symbolically that no matter how hard things might be, the stronger will prevail. It was important to illustrate that effort of resilience at the car show. Part of resilience is deciding to make yourself miserable over something that matters, or deciding to make yourself miserable over something that doesn't matter. The flood in the end really did not matter. What matter was our strength and courage to see things through what appeared to be the end of the road for both of us.
Frame: stock 1959
Modifications: 2.5” dropped spindles - Front IFS, cross members, body and trans mountsRearEnd/Ratio:
Custom 9” Ford POSI 3:70 Differential
Rear Suspension: 3-inch aluminum blocks and GM Spring/Shackles
Rear Brakes: GM 10-inch disc Front Suspension: IFS Tubular A-arms
Front Brakes: GM 10-inch disc
Steering Box: power rack-and-pinion Mustang II
Front Wheels: Boss 338s, 18x8.5
Rear Wheels: Boss 338s, 20x10.5
Gas Tank and Filler Neck: Custom – Weld County Kustoms
Engine: 1958 392 Chrysler Hemi
Heads: stockValve Covers: Repo M/T
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock Performer
Ignition: MSD Mallory
Exhaust/Mufflers: 3-inch Custom
Transmission: 2009 GM 700-R4
Style: 1959 Chevy Apache
Modifications: 6” Raised Bed
Fenders Front / Rear: stock 1959, front / stock 1959, rear
Hood: stock 1959Grille: stock 1959
Bed: OEM Oak Bed distressed
Bodywork and Paint by: Weld County Kustoms
Paint Type/Color: Sherman Williams
Outside Mirrors: stock
Bumpers: stock 1959, front / 1959 rear
Gauges: Classic Instruments
Stereo: GM OEM
Steering Wheel: Budnik
Steering Column: Flaming River
Seats: 1964 Ford Galaxy