Jason Fonte’s “Project Fired” Brought This Totally Charred 1959 Chevy Apache Back to Life
Life ain’t fair and it ain’t easy. Sometimes the universe can deliver a wallop of a hit and leave us reeling. The irony is that only after a tremendous setback, can true metamorphosis occur.
The Camp Fire in Paradise, California in 2018 was such an event. The flames spared nothing and devoured everything in its path, including the 1959 Chevy Apache truck before you. Charred almost to the point of melting, this truck survived the depths of Hades and survived.
Luckily, Jason Fonte from Los Angeles found the old hay hauler under a tarp at a friend’s shop and struck a deal to buy it. With help from Jeff Davy of Devious Customs in Riverside, California, they transformed the truck into Project Fired, the burly, flame-broiled beauty it is today.
Jason was seeking a new project at the time, but his wife Dina was skeptical. “She thought it was a piece of junk and didn’t see the potential,” Jason recounts, “but knew I was determined to bring it back.”
Not only did the Apache go through one devastating event, but Jason snagged it right at the onset of the Covid pandemic. Jason leveraged the downtime, grabbed some Scotchbrite pads and some CLR cleaner, and scrubbed off the scale and ash from the burned carcass. Then, he had it sprayed out with three coats of matte clear and sent it off to Devious Customs. Roughly 16 months later, the Apache emerged from its chrysalis, ready to rewrite the rules of custom trucks.
Project Fired rides on a Roadster Shop Spec chassis and a Accuair E-Level air spring system. Jason left the welding marks on the frame and went for a matte finish to complement the rough-hewn look of the body, courtesy of Mother Nature. Big Wilwood brakes live inside Detroit Steel “Ambassador” wheels, 20×12-inches in the rear and 20×9 up front, finished off with Lexani rubber all the way around.
Under the hood resides a 6.0 LQ9 V8 built by SoCo Auto Salon in Costa Mesa, California. With a Brian Tooley Racing cam, MSD ignition, and Holley Sniper EFI, the mill produces roughly 500hp. Backed up by a 4L80E transmission, it delivers a boatload of twist to the 9-inch Ford rearend with TruTrac Positraction. The engine is nestled into an intentionally “sterile” engine bay designed to showcase the finished mill, coated in a muted combination of smokey hues.
The guys rebuilt the bed, tubbed the rear wheel wheels, and added unique badging. The wood in the bed was replaced and they swapped unusable metal with new anodized pieces that blended in perfectly with the existing palette of heat-cured materials.
Inside, the cab is painted satin black, except for the patina’d dash. The interior has a Snowden custom bench seat in black leather and suede, with matching door inserts and a headliner. Classic Industries dash cluster, RestoMod Trumod stealth air conditioning, and bespoke interior touches from Devious Customs finish out the cabin.
We loved the truck – and the story – so much that we chose the Apache as our Fuel Curve Pick at the Goodguys 2022 SoCal Nationals. We think Jason and the maestros at Devious Customs deserve a hat tip for saving Project Fired. The truck had a stroke of bad luck getting caught in the fire, but hit the jackpot when Jason saved it. The old Chevy literally went to hell and back, came through indelibly changed, and is now able to share its story of hope and renewal, metamorphosis complete.
Photos by Steven Bunker