Hammer Time – Levi Green’s ’58 Apache Chronicles the Journey of a Craftsman
You likely recognize the name HammerFab for a number of wicked truck builds, or perhaps the name of its proprietor, Levi Green, who also teaches metal fabrication classes at the Liberty Hill, Texas-based shop. Like most of enthusiasts, Levi’s passion for hot rodding can be traced back to a young age. He was just 14 when his uncle offered him a choice of three vehicles sitting behind his house: a ’58 Apache or a couple mid-’50s Bel Airs. He chose to save the pickup.
Levi and his dad started working on the truck, sourcing parts from junkyard F-bodies and scoring a 350c.i. V8 from a ’76 Caprice. After high school, Levi packed up his belongings to attend WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming, where he got a hands-on education in the school’s Street Rod Specialty and Fabrication program. He towed the Apache pieces along with him when he moved there.
The original truck frame became a class project to which Levi added the front stub assembly from a ’78 Trans Am, and then adapted the rear suspension from an ’86 IROC Camaro. With the chassis done, Levi did his metal working homework by widening the rear step side fenders. When school wound down, Levi took a position at Rad Rides by Troy and the truck followed along. While he worked on projects during the day, he found time to work through some details on the truck cab after hours. The firewall was filled and smoothed, and seams were tightened, welded, and finished, followed by a coat of primer to seal everything.
Another opportunity took Levi and the ’58 south to Texas where he eventually settled just north of Austin and went all in for himself by forming his own fabrication shop, HammerFab. Not only would the shop focus on hot rod and custom fabrication work, but Levi also decided to share his metalworking abilities by offering special tools, dies, and even courses on how to use these tools. As you could imagine, the ’58 was parked for a few years as he focused on growing his business.
Finally, it was time to finish the two-decade-plus project and Levi set aside time to work on the Apache. He raised the bed floor 2.5-inches, filled the stake pockets, crafted a trick tailgate flanked by ’61 Impala taillights in the fenders, and deleted the vent windows in favor of one-piece door glass. Donnie Finger and his son, Evan, started in on the bodywork and once deemed worthy, Levi turned to Vastines Paint Garage to lay down a Valspar/DeBeer custom blue that was based off a ’56 Bel Air Nassau Blue complemented with a white roof.
A lot of details helped to bring the exterior appearance together. This included rear bumpers used on both ends, flipped upside down and tucked close to the body, with custom exhaust outlets flanking the license in the rear. The custom bed wood floor was treated to countless hours of sanding and clear coating, plus a custom recessed fuel fill cap. The truck rolls on 20×9- and 22×11-inch Raceline Classico wheels wrapped in Continental 265/35/20 and 325/35/22 tires.
All of the custom metalwork under the hood that Levi started years ago is covered in a subtle satin black finish, so you need to take some time to admire the details. Smack in the middle of the cavernous engine compartment is the same small block Levi and his dad rebuilt years ago. It was a budget build with a 0.030-inch over bore topped with an Edelbrock intake and Holley EFI system. The front accessory drive was boosted from a ’97 Yukon with coolant pumping through a Walker radiator and a set of Flowmasters presenting a nice hot rod rumble.
The interior is as understated and cool as the rest of the truck, with the dash being balanced by matching Packard knobs, a stock radio delete cover, and a tilt column pinched from a full-size GM van. Sharp eyes will notice a Pontiac Chief center cap on the Corvair steering wheel (and on the seat), which Levi saw fitting to the Apache nameplate. Modern refinements include a stock-style Dakota Digital instrument package, Vintage Air, and a thumping JL Audio system hidden throughout. A square body bench seat was modified before Jay Schluter started covering it in distressed Garrett leather with insets made from NOS ’55 Bel Air fabric.
Levi had the opportunity to debut the truck at the 2019 SEMA Show, where it earned the Chevrolet Truck Design of the Year award. We’ve admired the truck at multiple events since then before we selected it as the Goodguys Feature Pick at the 2021 Lone Star Nationals. Sure, it’s an amazingly cool truck, but what’s better is how the Apache tracks the beginnings of Levi’s passion for hot rodding and fabrication. He easily could have ditched the chassis he modified years ago in favor of an off-the-shelf aftermarket frame, or even made the move to a modern Connect-and-Cruise powertrain, but the Apache’s modified and massaged parts are what make the story of this long-term project truck.
Photos by John Jackson