In Stephen King’s Classic The Green Mile one of the prisoners has a special gift to share with the world. In comparison, Johnny Toneman’s 1953 Chevy 150 Coupe also has a very special gift. Upon first sight it’s clear to see the resemblance to the 1999 classic. Not only does this ’53 capture the audience’s attention with it’s stunning proportions, but it seems to transcend back to another time, almost as if traveling back to the early hot rod days of the ’50s. Continue along as we take you on a journey of this perfectly executed Slam’d coupe.

Mr. Toneman hales from Lancaster, California and just so happens to be your average car guy that just can’t seem leave well enough alone. Having started like many in the custom scene today, it was minitrucks that was Johnny’s original “gateway drug” into the custom world. Shaved, ‘bagged and body dropped are the words that describe most of Johnny’s builds throughout the years. Moving from minis to lifted rides and then to motorcycles was the natural progression for Johnny as he pursued his love for anything with wheels. When it came time to add another full build to his resume he decided upon a 1953 Chevy Coupe having read some favourable Chevy Dealer Reviews. What better reason would he need than a build inspired by his new born son, Johnny Cash. In 2006, with the birth of his son, he decided to move on from motorcycles to something a bit more family friendly. This is when the search began for this American classic.

Belair-15Belair-07 Photos: Nico Jarrett | Words: Jason Ballard

The project began with a clear vision. Chop the roof and make for perfect flow, thus the metal work was placed ahead of everything else on his list. They stripped the car down and sent it to Troy Ladd over at Hollywood Hotrods for the full custom treatment. Troy is a vet in the hot rod scene and was the right choice to undertake such heavy body modifications. This included recessing the headlights, welding the hood together, shaving the door handles, antenna, trunk handle, key holes, gas door and windshield wipers. Then Troy proceeded to chop 4-inches out of the roofline giving the Coupe an aggressive yet well proportioned slant. The sheet metal work was the foundation for such a righteous build and of course Johnny did not stop there.

A project of this caliber surely has an undercarriage and chassis setup to match the perfection you see on the outside. In order to maintain the high standards set for this build, Johnny called upon Art Morrison for the updated 21st century chassis. A family friend, Tim Riley, stepped in to assist Johnny with this aspect of the project. The front suspension setup consists of custom a-arms and airbags on the Morrison chassis and the rear is setup with a custom 4-link and air as well. Tim handled the motor and body mounts and a RideTech AirPod setup was used to control the air management side of things. The brakes were upgraded to Wilwood discs upfront and a set of American Racing Salt Flat Specials wrapped with Stockton Wheels whitewalls rounds out the look. The wheel and tire combo undoubtedly adds a period element to the build while still giving it an aggressive look and feel.


Once Hollywood Hotrods finished up with the body modifications, the car was taken to Little Designs for the killer paint work laid down on this slick ’53. Dave Little sprayed a candy green over a silver base and added in a slight mix of gold and silver flake to give that subtle that hot rod custom look. And of course no hot rod would be complete without a killer drivetrain to boot. An Edelbrock 383 Vic Edelbrock Signature Series motor numbered 153 of 250 was installed as the icing on the cake. The engine was completely blueprinted straight from Edelbrock to achieve 460 horsepower and 460 foot pounds of torque. A 200r4 automatic transmission transfers the power to the Ford 9-inch rearend. Tim Riley also stepped in to help with the motor installation, electrical wiring of the car, and final assembly.


The interior of the Chev was kept clean and classy. Classic Industries gauges were added to keep tabs on the Edelbrock under-hood action and the factory bench was kept upfront with a custom bench seat added in the back. The dash was painted two-tone with a green and black treatment and to bring in a bit more modern convenience, a hide-a-way Vintage Air kit was installed to help keep the fam cool during those hot desert summers. Tim Riley was there once again to assist with the killer confines of this beauty along with Malott Upholstery. Words of wisdom from the owner is simply “Don’t short change your ride, start with quality and you will end with quality,” and of course we couldn’t agree more here at Slam’d Mag as QUALITY is one of our founding principles. The healing power of The Green Mile continues on, and this family chariot is definitely in good hands!

Slam’d Specs:

Owner: Johnny Toneman
Vehicle: 1953 Chevy 150 Coupe
Hometown: Lancaster, CA

Wheels: American Racing Wheels Salt Flat Specials 16×8
Tires: Stockton Wheels custom whitewall radials

Chassis: Art Morrison
Front: A-arm front suspension with airbags
Rear: 4-link rear suspension with ‘bags
Brakes: Wilwood front discs
Air Management: RideTech AirPod
Performed By: Art Morrison & Tim Riley

Shaved: Door handles, antenna, trunk handle, key holes, gas door, and windshield wipers
Mods: Frenched headlights, two piece hood converted and decked, and roof chopped 4 inches
Paint: Candy green over a silver base with a mix of gold and silver flake
Performed By: Hollywood Hotrods, Little Designs, and Tim Riley

Factory Bench up front, and custom bench in the rear
Two tone green and black dash with a hide away vintage air kit
Classic Industries gauges
Performed By: Tim Riley and Malott Upholstery

Engine: Edelbrock 383 “Vic Edelbrock Signature Series” motor #153 of 250
Completely blueprinted from Edelbrock to achieve 460 horsepower and 460 lb/ft
Transmission: 200r4 automatic
Rearend: Ford 9-inch
Performed By: Edelbrock and Tim Riley

Special Thanks from Owner:
“I would like to send a special thanks to JP Toneman and the Toneman family, Tim Riley, Troy at Hollywood Hotrods, Mark Malott, and Dave Little for all of the help and professional work. And an extra special thanks to my wife Laurie Toneman for giving me our son Johnny Cash, who this entire build is dedicated to, it’s all about family!”

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