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.
The '63 model was the last year for the pod-style dashboard with a wraparound windshield for Chevrolet trucks. The dual-pod dash design provided a natural progression for Steve at Definitive Auto to create a totally radical environment. The head unit is an Eclipse with DVD and navigation capabilities. Steve built custom cabinetry to house a load of high-end sound equipment from Memphis Audio. A 12-inch Memphis subwoofer mounted in the console handles the bass, while Memphis Audio mids and separates mounted in the kick and rear panels dispense harmonious musical sounds throughout the cab. once Steve had the sound system up and running, Todd at the Interior Shop in Phoenix wrapped the panels. The source for the bucket seats in Mark's cab started out as a pair of '85 Camaro buckets, but by the time Victor had cut, chopped, and sewed them up in two-tone brown leather with a baseball stitch, it would be hard to identify where they were from. The air conditioning from Vintage Air helps fend off the blazing Arizona heat. Unusual features of Mark's '63 are the power reverse hood and suicide doors. The power hood gets its boost from a pair of screw-type linear actuators from the folks at Electric life. Proving that Electric life has more to do with the inner workings of a classic truck than just electricity, the mono hinges Mark used to suspend his suicide doors are from Electric life as well.
In contrast to the '63's radical fullcustom stance fronted by its 24-inch Devino wheels shod with Toyo tires, is the stark simplicity of the super-deep, pearl-blue paint applied by Jim Michaud of Phoenix. Jim started with House of Kolor's lime-green-colored DTM primer and didn't stop until the topcoat was a stunning HoK True Blue Pearl buried under a deep coating of HoK clear urethane.
After winning best custom truck at the 2007 SEMA show in las Vegas, Mark learned that Mattel is going to issue a Hot Wheels version of his truck. It should be in a toy stores everywhere by the time this issue hits the newsstands.