There are no two ways about it, when the subject comes to classic Chevrolet pickups, oftentimes it seems like the formula most truck builders choose to hop one up and customize it is about as varied as the floorplan of any one of a thousand-plus Wal-Marts. Right off the bat, the powertrain is most likely going to be a 350-inch small-block motor tapped to a Turbo 350 automatic transmission. That's not to say there's anything bad or wrong with this combination, but just like walking into a Wal-Mart, it's awful predictable.
For Tom Karp of Fullerton, California, there's just something about an old shortbed Chevy Fleetside pickup that he really loves. So much so that when the time came to buy a work truck to serve his needs as an electrician, he spent $10,000 for one of the cherriest '62 C-10s he had ever seen. The short-wide Chevy rolled off of its Flint, Michigan, assembly line standard-equipped with a 235-inch stovebolt-six hooked up to a three-speed stick transmission. ('62 was the last year of production for the 235; it was replaced in '63 as the base motor by the modernized 230-inch six.)
After utilizing the stock '62 as a work truck for a while, Tom soon found himself bit by the customizing bug. Right off the top, he wanted to drop more horsepower into the truck, but he didn't want to go the typical small-block 350 Chevy route. On the flip side of how common a small-block engine is, Tom was faced with the fact that the '62 came standard-equipped with front torsion-bar suspension, which in this day and age is not the easiest thing to get replacement parts for. As luck would have it, the solution to both problems came in one fell swoop with the appearance of a wrecked '73 C-10 with a 292-inch six that was hit in the rear. Bingo, this meant Tom had a front crossmember with a conventional suspension and disc brakes that would bolt right in, plus it give him the basis for an unusual engine that could be hopped up and ready to roar.
Starting with the L-25 stovebolt motor, after Tom rebuilt the internals to factory specs-including the camshaft profile-he installed an Offenhauser intake manifold to accept an Edelbrock four-barrel carb with an Offenhauser valve cover to match. To handle the exhaust side of the single port-face engine, Tom used a set of Sanderson headers. In place of the stock three-speed stick gearbox, Tom opted for a rebuilt 700-R4 automatic transmission. To set the '62's stance, Tom looked to the folks at Classic Performance Parts to supply him with a set of their beefy 2-inch drop spindles equipped with one of their disc brake upgrades as well. In the rear, Tom maintained the original early C-10 Chevy coil spring setup ('60-66 GMCs came with leaf springs), but he lowered the stock height with a set of CPP coil springs. For tires and wheels in the rear, the '62 rolls on 18-inch wheels by Ken Esejian shod with 285/40 Toyo tires propelled by 3.56:1 gears. On the front, it's ditto for the Ken Esejian wheels shod with Toyos, but the front tire size was bumped down to 245/40.
When Tom first approached the bodywork on his truck, he was full steam ahead to have Rod Alexander mold in or clean up anything in sight. Starting at the hood, the seams were filled and the turn signals were shaved, rounding the nose off and ending with just two small openings centered at the hood latch. Moving rearward, details like the C-10 emblems, complete with original chrome, were left as accents, including the addition of '66 C-10 Custom Cab emblems on the cab's B-pillars to lighten up the dark appearance created by Rod Alexander's flawless paint work.
All the '62's window glass was replaced, including the curved windshield by Santa Clarita Auto Glass. Inside the cab rests a super sexy beige leather bench seat by Tea's Design. To accentuate the Tea's seat, Tom covered the door panels in matching leather and laid the carpeting in his truck as well. Instrumentation is provided by a complete assortment of Auto Meter gauges in the forefront of a Colorado Custom steering wheel mounted on a '70 Chevy tilt column. Behind every great cab is a good bed, and the bed on Tom's '62 is no exception thanks to a beautiful ash wood bed kit complete with stainless steel skids from Bruce Horkey's Wood & Parts. Tom installed the Bruce Horkey's kit, citing the choice of ash over oak because he preferred the lighter, whiter look of ash over the yellowish appearance of oak.
For a pickup that started out as a basic work truck, Tom's '62 has evolved into a classic cruiser that he still isn't afraid to drive whenever he gets the notion. Interestingly enough, the stovebolt-powered C-10 Fleetside still lacks a radio and doesn't have air conditioning. Tom's future plans for the C-10 include a sound system, air conditioning, and yanking the six-cylinder engine out and dropping in a V-8...but not a 350!