This guy is definitely into '72 Chevy pickups. He's owned a whole bunch of different classic cars and trucks in his lifetime, but the prominent vehicles on Fernando Chavez' long list of projects are Chevy pickups-mostly '68-72s, with '72s at the top. Over the years, he's built everything from stockers to Pro Streeters to four-wheel-drive Blazers.
"I just really like the lines of these trucks," is his uncomplicated explanation for his passion for '72s. But even love doesn't always mean long-term devotion and most of the Chevy trucks Fernando has built have come and gone, fixed up and sold. We have to say "most" because this bright blue C10 Shortbed is the exception to the rule. This one's been around for 12 years now, and it still gets driven, still gets worked on, still gets shown, and still gets a lot of attention.
When Fernando bought it from his cousin in 1998, the Chevy was a recently retired work truck running a six-cylinder and three-on-the-tree transmission, and finished in primer.
"It really needed a lot of help," he said. "The seats were falling apart. I remember my niece Giovanni and me driving around the neighborhood sitting on milk crates with no windows."
The first buildup took about a year and a half. Since then, Fernando-with help from his brothers Edward and Carlos and others-have taken the truck through several upgrades, a couple of different engines, numerous wheel and tire combinations, and other changes, finally arriving at the point it is today.
The Chevy still rolls on its factory frame. There was no reason to make a lot of modifications to the stock 'rails, but some fresh and upgraded suspension components were called for. Fernando revived the ride with Doetsch Tech shocks and Classic Performance Products springs. He dropped the front end 3 inches and bolted in an Early Classic Enterprises sway bar. The stock steering setup was retained. At the rear, 3.73:1 gears spin in the 12-bolt, and a CPP adjustable track bar (Panhard bar) and Hellwig sway bar control the ride. The factory front disc brakes have been modifed with custom chrome calipers and slotted rotors. The rear brakes are the stock drums. The CPP master cylinder and booster are chromed to help dress up the engine compartment.
Since pulling out the original six-cylinder, Fernando has switched a couple of different small-blocks in and out of the truck. Ultimately he decided he wanted something that made some power but that would not be past the point of streetability, which led to this 2006 GM Performance 350. Fernando reports 450 horses from the blown small-block, and we don't doubt it. Engine builder Rick Roche topped the 350 with a Weiand supercharger, Weiand intake manifold, and Holley 750 blower carburetor with a Holley PowerCharger air cleaner. The ignition system is from PerTonix, and the serpentine belt system is from B&B Street Rod in Lake Havasu City. Cylinder heads are Vortec-style Edelbrock E-Tec aluminum high-performance heads, wearing valve covers from Billet Specialties. The exhaust ports empty into Hooker headers. Flowmaster mufflers and MagnaFlow exhaust tips with resonators provide the tone Fernando likes. "That's my favorite part, the way it sounds," he said. "People hear it and think it's a big-block-but it's not."
Harold's Transmissions in Phoenix built up the 200-4R AOD from an '87 Buick Grand National. The 2,000-stall torque converter, finned deep pan, and other components came from Hughes Performance.
The interior has come a long way since the milk crate days. Fernando and his passengers can now park themselves in style on an '88 Chevy pickup bench, upholstered in gray leather and tweed by Dominic Dominguez. Some of the tweed was saved for the top of the dash. Rick Roche installed and wired the Dakota Digital gauges and the A/C. In the Phoenix area, air conditioning is a requirement for any truck that gets driven, and a unit from Old Air Products keeps the cab from overcooking. The B&M shifter and two-tone Lecarra steering wheel are other custom components inside the cab, further modified with custom billet door handles, and a molded headliner.
We never would've learned any of this information if our attention hadn't been grabbed by the overall looks of Fernando's Chevy in the first place. Give Fernando's brother Carlos credit for that; he's the guy who smoothed out all the dents, patched up all the rust, and added the molded rolled pan. A custom billet grille replaces the stock egg carton piece and a cowl-induction hood was put in place to provide some fresh air to the engine-and to clear the air cleaner. Fernando retained the factory bed, which now features a smoothed tailgate and a Gaylord cover. His cousin Humberto installed the glass, provided by 20th Street Auto in Phoenix. The paint was shot by Carlos, but not during the latest rebuild. We were surprised to find out that the NAPA Bluebird Blue had been sprayed during the previous buildup, 11 years earlier. It still looks great.
The billet aluminum five-spokes are from Intro Wheels' V-Rod series. With 20x8.5s in front and 22x10s in the rear, there's still enough room in the wheelwells for the low-profile, high-performance Nitto Extreme radials, sized P255/35ZR20 and P285/35ZR22.
Nowadays, Ferrnando tries to drive the truck on a weekly basis, and shows it off whenever there's a show to go to.
Don't count on it. "I think this is going to be a never-ending project. Just when I think I'm through working on this truck, I come up with something else to change."
Why, we wondered. Since so many other cars and trucks have come and gone over the years-what's different about this one that has kept it in Fernando's possession for 12 years and counting?
"I can't bring myself to part with this one. I just always liked the way it sits. I drove it for three years as an everyday driver and I've been through this truck so many times, I know all the ins and outs. Now it's resting in my garage waiting for the next show or cruise. Every time I start to think about selling it, I just start looking at it and then change my mind."
Then turning practical, he said, "I know I'd never get my money out of it anyway."