From the age of 16, Phoenix, Arizona-native Mark Barbee has been actively involved in customizing fullsize trucks. His first effort was an '02 GMC Sierra 1500-and then two years later an '04 GMC 2500 HD. While 16 might sound like a tender young age to some folks, Mark told us that his passion for trucks started at a much younger age, when he must have still been in kindergarten. The truck that Mark traces it all back to was his grandpa's '65 Chevy Big-Window shortbed Fleetside. Unfortunately, when ethe time came for his grandfather to pass the truck on, it was one of Mark's uncles who outranked him in age and inherited the '65. As fate would have it, the uncle parked the short-wide Fleetside in a doomed spot and returned to discover the truck had been run over by a damned old train. In January 2003 Mark bought the '63 Chevy C-10 gracing our cover from a friend at work for $2,500. Tracing the '63's history, he found that the pickup was originally a farm truck from Casa Grande, Arizona. The original owner must have spotted it at the dealership and chose it because it had 283 V-8 with a compound four-speed-and the Big-Window option was just along for the ride. Mark used the Chevy as a daily driver for around two years before he commenced with the truck's radical transformation.
The first thing Mark did to launch his '63 into its new incarnation as a radical show truck was to set the stance. Mark's decision to lay the C-10 out hard on 26-inch wheels meant a severely modified chassis was in order. There wasn't a whole lot of the stock frame left by the time Mark and his friend Kevin at Grunion Fabrication in Phoenix were done. The two teamed up with a stack of 2x4-inch box steel-and didn't stop until the truck was laid out on 26-inch wheels. The only commercially available suspension parts used were 21/2-inch drop spindles from Belltech and a quartet of bags from Firestone. Mark and Kevin modified the stock Chevy A-arms to take care of the front suspension and a four-link setup to handle the rear. To pump the truck up to drive at ride height, Viair compressors rely on two optima yellowTop batteries placed under the bed floor to provide an ample supply of 12-volt juice. Speaking of the bed floor, it's a solid oak beauty from Bruce Horkey of Windom, Minnesota. The blind bedstrips are polished stainless steel.
A 20-gallon fuel cell is the start of the food chain for the '63's powertrain. Up front, rick and Mike at rick's Automotive built a ramjet 350-inch Chevy small-block motor estimated to put out 340 hp with 400 lb-ft of torque. To transfer power to a 10-bolt Chevy rearend packing 4.11:1 gears with a posi, Mark's friend Mario rebuilt a 700-r4 and stuffed it in. A custom exhaust system with Dynomax products is tucked up within the framerails to allow the '63 to sit completely flat when it's laid out.