One common aspect of adulthood is nostalgia for the things we had in high school. Some of those things—algebra, acne, and all that hassle from mom and dad—might not be on the list of things you miss the most. A few others—no bills to pay, fitting into that old football jersey, and a full head of hair—might be gone for good. But driving a truck like the one you had in high school is an entirely achievable way to recapture the glory days of youth. Where would the custom classic truck hobby be if it wasn't for all the gearheads out there who'd like nothing more than to own a cool pickup like the one they drove when they were a teenager?
The '65 C10 that J.R. Garcia from Irving, Texas, owned in high school was followed by a few other pickups, including an '82 Chevy shortbed and a bagged '95 Chevy dualie. A few years ago, Garcia—now a grown man in his mid 30s—was feeling nostalgic about the '65 and started looking around for another one. This '64 popped up on Craigslist. Located about three hours away, it had no motor or trans, but did have a $500 price tag and the potential for a really good project.
His plan called for a low-budget build. Something a few notches up from a rat rod, with the simplicity of the truck he'd driven in high school and some of the quality he preferred—and could afford—as an adult.
Art Busche Designs is a well-known shop in Irving, but Busche was still working out of his home garage when Garcia started talking to him about his project. Busche said that the word from J.R. was that he wanted it simple: Z'd in front with a four-link in the back.
Custom frames are a signature component of vehicles built at Art Busche Designs, and this chassis gives you an idea of how Busche defines simple. The boxed 3x5-inch 'rails were built to center the wheels and tires in the fender openings. A 3 1/2-inch Z in the frame, drop spindles, and Firestone airbags bring the frontend low enough to scrape the coating off a playing card. A notch was built into the rear, where another set of airbags drops the back of Garcia's C10 as low as the front. VIAIR compressors and tanks were mounted at the back of the frame. A chromed four-link and a Watt's link located right behind the rearend housing round out the rear suspension.
Up front, those 'rails carry a 383 Chevy small-block (350 block and stroker crank) with 11.5:1 JE pistons. Garcia topped the Procomp intake manifold and Holley 650 carburetor with a finned air cleaner, painted to match the body (as well as the finned valve covers). The Hooker headers are wrapped to keep the heat inside, and a pair of Flowmaster 40-series mufflers provides the right exhaust note. A Turbo 350 transmission was pulled out of an '81 Chevy pickup and mounted to the 383, matched with a B&M 2,500-stall converter. A chromed driveshaft ties the tranny to a '79 Chevy Posi rear, spinning 3.73:1 gears.
Torque is transferred to the pavement via a pair of G78-15 Coker Classic tires, dressed up with 3 1/4-inch wide whitewalls and mounted on 15x8-inch GM steelies with rings and spider caps. The same size combination is used in the front. Stopping power is provided by '72 Chevy truck brakes—discs in the front and drums in the rear.
By running the truck minus a hood and bed floor, Garcia guarantees that the craftsmanship that went into the chassis gets properly shown off. The rest of the body and bed panels have been respectfully allowed to age with dignity—minus any cosmetic surgery to erase the wrinkles earned with age. With the sheetmetal prepped for paint, Garcia sprayed the C10 a shade of jade he identifies as "Acetylene Green." A butter yellow off-white color was chosen for the modified firewall, chassis, wheels, and interior panels.
The interior was finished as clean and simple as the exterior. Garcia kept the stock steering wheel and instrument panel—adding a Sunpro oil pressure and water temperature gauge, a dual-needle pressure gauge for the airbags, and a JVC receiver to the center of the factory dash. The JVC audio system includes a 600-watt amp and dual 6x9-inch speakers. The original seat was replaced with a bench out of a '94 Silverado. Ten minutes away from J.R.'s house, the crew at Carlos Auto Trim wrapped the new seat in leather upholstery—Garcia describes the color as peanut butter. The 32-inch aftermarket shifter came from Lokar.
In addition to Art Busche, J.R. gives credit to his wife Robyn and to Alex Garcia for the success of the truck. He is now in the process of building another pickup, a '48 Chevy closer to the style of a rat rod. In the meantime, Busche is making a set of custom hood hinges and a raised floor for the '64 and J.R. is having fun driving it on the weekends and counting the number of people who almost hit his low C10 while trying to take photos.