Building a truck to showcase one's talent is probably one of the most popular reasons to do so. Whether it's for self-promotion or to simply prove it to yourself, the challenges that come with restoring and customizing a classic truck and the pride that results when the project is finished is unequaled. Jason Stevens and his Temperance, Michigan-based '85 Chevrolet C10 are perfect examples of this. A paint and body man by trade at The Hot Rod Shop in southern Michigan, Jason decided that a classic pickup would be the best canvas in which to apply his skills.
Having scored an '85 C10 for a scant $500 that he used as a daily driver back in high school, the canvas was already in place. But as an ex-goat-hauling pickup, the truck was slightly worse for wear than what Jason had in mind for it. A complete teardown would be necessary to get everything squared away before Jason even thought about applying his magic.
Once the teardown was complete with the body, bed, and sheetmetal bits at one end of the garage and the chassis at the other, Jason began to tear into the suspension components. Up front, a pair of Chassis Tech 2 1/2-inch dropped spindles were mated to the C10 control arms, along with ContiTech 2,600-lb airbags and Monroe shocks to get the nose of the truck down in the weeds. Out back, the smoothed and molded framerails were notched to allow the Chevy 10-bolt Posi rear to tuck up nicely under the bed thanks to the use of an owner-built two-link and another pair of ContiTech airbags. Massive Rozzi 20-inch wheels wrapped in Kumho rubber at all four corners round out the rolling accoutrements.
Under the hood, Jason dropped a 406ci small-block Chevy between the framerails topped with 2.02 heads and a Billet Specialties flamed air cleaner cover and valve covers. Speed-Pro pistons wrapped with TRW chromoly rings and a Crane cam comprise the internal speed equipment, while up top, a Power Plus intake manifold and 625-cfm Demon carburetor, Mallory ignition, and Hedman headers are the resident go-fast goodies. Diverting the power from the engine to the rearend is a GM 700-R4 with a B&M Quicksilver shifter and a Perma-Cool trans cooler.
While the undercarriage of Jason's truck is no doubt detailed beyond belief, it's the exterior sheetmetal work that he's especially proud of. He began by shaving both slabsides of all things bumpy including the door handles, locks, trim, and marker lights as well as the stock taillights. A Goodmark cowl hood was also fitted and gapped to the fenders and cowl, as well as fitted to the '90 Suburban grille by LMC Truck. The bed received equal treatment as a smooth tailgate skin was welded solid to the bedsides in place of the original tailgate with an offset recess for the license plate. The lower roll pan area was blended into the bedsides as well before El Camino taillights were frenched into it. Topping off the custom bed is a Gaylord's tonneau cover. Once all the bodywork was complete, Jason then sprayed the truck in two-stage DuPont Torch Red before carefully buffing the finish to show quality.
Inside the cab, the custom work continued. The first item noticed is the fact that the doors operate in opposite fashion, with the driver side remaining stock while the passenger door opens in a suicide fashion. The next item to stand out inside is the fiberglass center console that houses a pair of cup holders, a B&M shifter, and the air suspension controls. Flanking the console are a pair of Pontiac Sunfire bucket seats wrapped in black leather and Ostrich by Krist Kustoms in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which partially hide a pair of molded sub boxes painted to match the body. A pair of door panels were ordered up from RodDoors and upholstered by Jason to match the custom seats. In the dash, a set of Auto Meter gauges were mounted in a billet aluminum panel, and then topped by a satin-black smooth dashpad. A tilt steering column topped with a Billet Specialties Holeshot steering wheel mounts below, wrapping up the interior compartment.
Taking a $500 goat hauler to the laid out custom you see before you doesn't come easy, as Jason can attest. He'd like to thank his father, Tim Stevens; and brother Travis; Howard at Dundee Truck and Performance; and Ken and Jaye at The Hot Rod Shop for all their help and guidance throughout the build. Without them, winning 1st Place at the Detroit Autorama on its virgin outing would not have been possible.