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Too Fancy for Grandpa
Every classic car has a story to tell. The story of Wyatt and Amy Scepaniak's 1955 Chevrolet pickup is very special.
The '55 Chevy pickup belonged to Wyatt's grandfather, Ray Wyatt, whom he was named after. Wyatt's memories of the car revolve around Ray's farm
"The truck was one of a couple my grandpa had on his farm when I was a kid. It was one of the first vehicles my cousins and I ever drove," says Wyatt, who lives in Aberdeen with his wife and kids. "After he died, I got this truck and my cousin got another. It was a 60-year-old farm truck in rough condition."
Wyatt decided he'd like to rebuild the truck to its original glory. That's where Cliff Avenue Upholstery & Restoration of Tea, South Dakota comes in.
Ennis Lund, the shop owner, calls the work done on the pickup “nothing short of a masterpiece.” The '55 Chevy is a true restomod, embodying the style and aura of its original decade while boasting modern conveniences. It has its original body, but it has a new frame and suspension; a stunning Kona blue paint job; beautiful wheels and tires; all-leather interior; air conditioning; power steering; and power brakes. Ennis estimates the shop put a total of 1,500 hours into the build.
"My God-given talent is my eye for detail," says Ennis. "I can paint the picture in my mind and know what's still missing on the vehicle."
Ennis is experienced in body work and painting, but he credits his team at Cliff Avenue for helping him score home runs
on rebuilds. "I've been doing this for 60 years, but you can't play ball alone," he says. "We pride ourselves on flawlessly restoring old cars and trucks."
At Cliff Avenue, each person on the team brings specific strengths to the table. Aaron specializes in body work, mechanical work, engine and frame builds, and painting. Kenny also specializes in body work and painting. Jerry is the master upholsterer, with support from Andrew's upholstery talents.
For Ennis – who started his professional career in the insurance industry – working on cars was always a hobby. He'd subcontract areas of restoration projects to other people, but the quality of the work often fell short of satisfying him. That's when he realized the secret was in the detail work, and he knew he wanted to learn those details to make his cars even better. He did much of that learning from Bill LaPay of Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1990, Ennis purchased the old fire station building at 26th and Cliff Avenue to house his insurance business as well as his increasing number of car projects. As his passion for restoring old cars continued to grow, he built another space behind the building to house more cars. He officially opened Cliff Avenue Upholstery & Restoration in November 2000.
As his team attempted to do complete restorations at the Cliff Avenue building, they found out body work and painting were not allowed in city limits, and they invested in their current facility in Tea at 27096 Kerslake Place (just off the Tea exit). There, they perform all aspects of car restoration.
Over the years, Ennis has had several favorite rebuilds. There was a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, a 1962 Pontiac Super Duty, a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville, and a 1968 Chevrolet Biscayne.
"They made 600 - 1957 fuel-injected Pontiac convertibles, and there are probably only 100 left. I built three of those," says Ennis. "I bought one from a little old lady in Tennessee. It was a car show winner, and now it sits in a museum in South Carolina."
The 1962 Pontiac Super Duty that Ennis rebuilt was featured in the October 2014 issue of Hemmings Motor News. "They made six Ventura Super Duties in 1962. They were rated the best in the world, and I had one of them. I found it in a garage north of the station, only about a block away. It was parked in there for 35 years, just hidden away. One day the door was open, and God led me to it. I rebuilt it and sold it to Jack Steele of Huron."
The 1968 Chevrolet Biscayne is a favorite because Ennis ran it at Thunder Valley Car Show when it first opened. "What can I say...men enjoy watching hot rods run!" he chuckles.
The 1955 Chevrolet pickup that Cliff Avenue rebuilt for the Scepaniaks is another of his biggest accomplishments. "It truly turned out fantastic," says Ennis.
The Scepaniaks appreciate the work done on the restomod. "It looks awesome, but my grandpa would probably hate it, because it's so fancy!" Wyatt laughs.
Wyatt says that after he and his wife take the pickup home in mid-October, they plan to drive it. "It's a truck that's meant to be driven," says Wyatt.
For more information on their services and what they can do, contact Cliff Avenue Upholstery
& Restoration. Jasmine, who is a great people person, keeps the shops organized and is happy to take your call.