Some things in life are like a two-headed coin. Either way you flip it, you win. For some people, that could be having a job that's fun and pays well. For others, it might be having a wife who's good-looking and loves your truck. For Allen Thompson, the proud owner of Big Al's Ol' Red Truck, it's having a best friend who also happens to own a hot rod shop
The best friend is named Don Waldron and the shop is Rods West in Ridgecrest, California. Allen said that he had just retired from a career in the aerospace industry when Don encouraged him to find a project "to keep me out of trouble." In fact, Don found one for him-this '72 Chevy C10. When Allen went to look at it, the shortbed Fleetside had been through some wear and tear, but wasn't in bad shape. The owner was asking for a little more money than he wanted to spend, so Allen walked away-for awhile. Six months and a second look later, he bought it.
"Restification" is the word Allen uses to describe the frame-off buildup-something in between a meticulous restoration and a full-on custom job. He started on the chassis with the goal of improving the ride and lowering the profile. C-notches in the stock 'rails and Early Classic Enterprises 2-inch dropped spindles, and front and rear lowering springs, gave the truck the perfect stance, but after bottoming out a few times he switched to heavier KYB front and rear shocks and swapped the coil springs out for an air ride setup from Air Ride Technologies. Now he can clear the end of his driveway and still drop the truck over the tires and wheels. Check out the meats on the rear axle. Allen stuffed the tubbed fenderwells with 29x18.00R18LT Sportsman S/R radials from Mickey Thompson, matched with a pair of 28x10.00R18LTs in front. Rods West opened up the wheelwells and modified the 18-inch five-spokes to make them fit the tires. Braking is handled by factory GM F-44 heavy-duty discs in front; and the rear drum brakes were replaced with Ford Explorer discs.
The decision on the powerplant was made "a long time before the current gas crunch hit." Torque and horsepower were bigger priorities than saving a buck at the gas pump, and a Chevy big-block delivers the kind of muscle he wanted. Don at Rods West came up with a 402ci core, rebuilt for the C10 by LTR Racing Engines in Onyx, California. "Nothing wild, but strong," Allen requested. That means Keith Black 9.5:1 pistons with Sealed Power rings, an Isky hydraulic roller cam, and Edelbrock cylinder heads, fired to life by an MSD 6AL ignition system. A carburetor was feeding the Rat motor until about six months after he thought he was finished with the truck. That's when Allen saw the big-block electronic fuel injection system on the Hilborn website and knew it was just what he needed for his 402. He was right; the injector stacks and dual oval air cleaners look a lot cooler-and definitely provide more horsepower-than the single four-barrel. At the exhaust end, Hooker headers feed the gases to a pair of DynoMax mufflers. A Mike's Transmission TH400 three-speed automatic with a Gear Vendors over/underdrive setup drops the rpms at highway speeds, and add a few extra speeds to the mix. The Dana 60 Truetrac limited-slip rearend was narrowed 10 inches and loaded with 3.70:1 gears.
Big Al said, "El Segundo Auto Body did a fantastic job on the body and bed." After straightening the beat-up sheetmetal, replacing all the rusted out areas, and shaving the fuel filler neck, they shot the custom candy apple red paint. Things were kept low-key in the bed-some Line-X bedliner and a Gaylord's lid to top it off. All the brightwork was done at Verne's Chrome Plating in Gardena, California.