The men in the Norman family are staunch fans of Chevrolet’s C10 pickup. Gene Norman is a longtime auto enthusiast, passing down his passion and talents to his sons, Sam and Rob. Together they have already built several ’68s and created more than twenty-five custom vehicles over the years. All three agree that their latest one ranks at the top. The process began when they found this original ’68 less than a mile from their home in Lawty, Florida. It was privately owned, hidden away inside a barn, and in terrible condition. Described as an absolute basket case, Rob said the only positive element was that almost all the pieces were there. Because of its condition, bringing it back to original was never part of the plan. The rebuild would concentrate on creating a smooth street custom with all modern options like air, automatic, power steering, power windows, stereo, disc brakes, and solid handling.

Once they trailered the truck home, the team had it torn down to the frame within two hours, thanks to the well-equipped shop at Gene’s home. At that point, they knew what they had to work with and what repro parts had to be ordered. They had already purchased a 1986 Chevrolet Caprice to be used as a donor car and soon had the entire front clip, complete with power steering and disc brakes, grafted to the C10. The 10-bolt rear from the Caprice was also adapted to the C10 rear trailing arms. To eliminate noxious odors in the cab, the original gas tank was removed from behind the seat and the gas tank filler hole welded shut. The Caprice tank found a new home under the C10 bed. The second donor vehicle involved was an ’87 Chevrolet pickup, also in terrible shape except for the motor. The team pulled the 350 V-8 and 700-R4 automatic trans, adapting the new powertrain to the ’68 with little difficulty. Everything on the motor was already working perfectly and the EZ Wiring kit simplified the install. Lots of time was spent detailing the engine compartment, smoothing the inner fender panels and firewall. The new V-8 created more than enough power for the family’s low and slow style of street rodding. Once the powertrain was complete, the team chose 18x9-inch Boss rims for all four corners with 55-series Cooper tires. The rolling chassis was put aside as they turned their attention to the body.

Lots of repairs were necessary on the original sheet metal before the customizing process could begin. The rocker panels, bottoms of the doors, cab corners, and the area above the windshield had to be replaced because of rust damage. Once structural integrity was reestablished, they smoothed the hood and shaved the side marker lights, side mirrors, and door handles. Wipers were eliminated for a clean look, augmented with a little Rain-X to keep the windshield clear. The grille is stock but the emblem was removed and a screen from an old satellite dish used to hide the radiator and core support. New bed sides with welded stake holes and a new tailgate upgraded the old pickup bed. For a custom touch, seatbelt latches were adapted to hold the tailgate in place and the inside of the bed was sprayed with color-matched Rhino Liner.

Moving inside, the remote opens the doors to reveal the gray tweed interior with bench seat and small armrest. Instead of using a stock gauge panel, the dash was smoothed using an extra glove box door, welded in place, then fitted with Dolphin gauges. The original pad on top of the dash was no longer usable so a piece of 1.25-inch PVC pipe was adapted to fit and molded in. In order to maintain the clean look of the custom door panels, the switches for the power windows were mounted almost out of sight but easily accessible, on the forward edge of the seat bottom. With no door handles visible, the doors are opened from the inside by pushing the door lock buttons down. Modern Bear Claw latches guarantee a solid connection. The sound system fills the cab with music, thanks to the Pioneer AM/FM/CD player, feeding the 6.25-inch Alpine coaxial speakers mounted in the kick panels. Mom and Dad covered the door panels and Vann’s Upholstery, in Starke, Florida, stitched the bench seat, the only work not done in the family garage!

When it came time for the final paint, all three agreed that they did not want to see another truck looking just like theirs. Using their well-equipped garage, Sam sprayed the distinctive two-tone, using DuPont Chromabase Sunset Orange and White Diamond, with a gunmetal gray pinstripe in between. Several coats of clear guaranteed that foot-deep shine. Although they’ve had several, Sam said, I think this is the best one we’ve ever done.

Homebuilt and proud of it, the rejuvenation process took a year to complete with lots of late night adventures and plenty of hand sanding. Everyone in the family is pleased with the outcome and the truck has become a regular at cruise nights in the northern Florida area. Since the fun is in the building process and the boys have had this truck almost a year, it will soon be on the market and they’ll be looking for their next challenge. Yes, probably another favorite ’68 Chevy! CCT

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