I started looking for a 1966 to 1972 C10 about 2 years ago on Gumtree and Junkmail. As I wanted that particular Pickup because I like the shape and also, they have coils springs which allow for easy fitment of an air ride system. Eventually, I found a 1972 Chevy C10 Pickup for sale in Bellville, Cape Town. I sent a friend of mine, Gavin Williams to go and have a look to confirm that this truck was the real deal as I was worried that it may be a scam.
Fortunately, this pick-up was the genuine article and I paid R55 000-00 for it and it came with spare keys and a log book. The Pickup had an egg crate grill which I was not fond of as I prefer the bars of the 1968 and also had vacuum-assisted disc brakes as standard. It had been used as a tow truck for 40 years and the bin had lain in the back yard as a home to some chickens and was rusted quite badly. I was keen to keep the natural patina on the truck. However because the bin and cab had aged differently, this was not possible.
One evening, whilst surfing the internet, I found an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. It was the one where he drove the Holley shop truck. Of course, I was immediately sold on the colour, which was Sea Foam Green, an original Chev colour. I had the truck shipped to Port Elizabeth and once it was there, I used it for about 2 weeks before I started stripping it.
With time, I found that this Pickup gets very hot on the inside as there is no insulation on the firewall. The manual gearbox was also horrendous. A mate of mine had a workshop in town and I managed to secure some space there and began the process of pulling the motor and stripping the entire vehicle down to its frame. I worked mainly at night and on weekends as I have a full-time job. The build took me a year and a half to complete as I did virtually all of the work myself including the motor and air ride.
The truck has a manual air ride (no solenoids as it is simpler that way). It has four bags, plates, top hats, air tank, Viair compressor, dual needle gauges and paddle switches on the dash (each wheel can be controlled individually).
I acquired 2-inch drop spindles for the front and cut and notched the frame rails at the back to allow the diff to move high enough. This initially created an issue with shock travel which made it necessary to make new top shock mounts, then the Panhard rod was too short as the angle was too steep which would, in turn, make the back end unstable.
The motor is a stock 307 bore with an Edelbrock cam, manifold, carb, Z28 heads and electronic dizzy. The gearbox is a rebuilt TH350 auto 3 speed with a floor shifter. I am in the process of boring and stroking the motor and installing a TH700 4 -speed box with overdrive. The wheels are 20 inches with 275/35 tyres. Unfortunately, the only standard wheels that are available for this pick-up are Jeep. They did not suit the look I was going for and therefore I had to have wheel adapters made as the original PCD was 5 inches.
I kept the original fuel tank inside the cab as I think it adds an element of excitement knowing you are travelling with 75 litres of fuel right behind your seat. Then I had a company in Port Elizabeth mix up a dye in the same colour as the truck for the seats, dash pad, armrests and sun visors. After this, I painted the interior of the truck and the steering wheel with the same Sea Foam Green as the exterior.
I found a set of NOS bottom sweeps mechanical gauges on eBay for USD 25.00. This kept the old school look and is coupled with a Retrosound head unit which includes USB and Bluetooth. I have 2 Rockford 6.5’s, 2 x 10-inch subs and a 4000-watt amp which are all hidden under the seat and as I drive along I can feel AC/DC pumping through my entire body.
The dashboard and cubbyhole are both original. I did, however, add a set of colour-coded seatbelts. As I was writing this article, I realised just how many hours of blood, sweat and beers went into this type of build and do not know how they can build a car in 45 minutes on TV every week.