For Ariel Higareda of Santa Ana, California, wheeling and dealing collectible customs is a way of life. Ariel works all day as a loan officer, but at night he's the guy the neighbors all hate. Well, maybe the word hate is a little harsh. When Ariel gets home, it's time to grind some steel and bang some sheetmetal, not a good scene for the couch potato next door trying to watch TV. Ariel, along with some good buddies, has flipped a string of Chevelles, Camaros, and, of course, 1965-72 Chevy pickups. When Ariel located the '71 C10 Cheyenne Super gracing these pages, it was supposed to be just another truck to fix up and flip for a profit. But that was not to be. Instead, Ariel's friend Manuel Ortiz convinced him he should do a really nice restoration on the '71. After Manuel told Ariel all about the '71 C10 his dad owned when he was a kid, Ariel soon discovered he was forming an attachment to the old Chevy.

Ariel credits Manuel as the driving force behind taking the C10 from a decent old pickup to how it appears today. The first step for the crew was to yank the 350-inch small-block motor installed at the factory in '71 and plug in an updated 350-inch version from GM Performance. Perhaps for cosmetic reasons as well as performance, the cast-iron intake manifold topped with a Rochester Quadrajet was tossed in favor of an Edelbrock aluminum intake with an Edelbrock 650-cfm carburetor. A low-restriction K&N air cleaner supplants the AC-Delco cartridge. To fire through the 350's intake charge, HEI ignition combusts fuel under compression, then exits spent gases through a set of Hooker headers, dumping into a dual exhaust muffled with a pair of Flowmasters.

Next on the agenda was to bring the '71's transmission and differential into the 21st century. The original Turbo 400 automatic tranny, although bulletproof, takes additional horsepower, doesn't lock up, and only has three speeds. In place of it, a 700-R4 snagged from a '91 Camaro featuring four speeds forward and a lockup overdrive on the top gear was installed. Not to stop here, the 4.10:1 rearend gears were swapped out for a set of 3.73s. The C10's suspension was left stock, with the exception of hanging Belltech 2-inch drop coils on each corner. To dampen the increased unsprung weight created by the 22-inch cast wheels, KYB gas-filled shock absorbers replace the original Delco-Moraine units. Ariel didn't mention if he did anything to improve the '71's original brakes. Fortunately, '71 marked the introduction of front disc brakes for full-size Chevy pickups. On the phone we discussed the 22-inch wheels. Ariel said they weren't his first choice, but he got them for the right price from a friend who had them on a Tahoe.