"Being in the asphalt construction business looking at orange barrels on the road for days on end, I had plenty of time to think about how I wanted to build this truck." Considering how well the 1965 Chevy C10 turned out, we would recommend Tim Wilson's strategy to anybody planning a project.
What Tim decided was to build something simple, traditional, and fun. "To take something old and turn it into something I could drive between the barrels." He bought the truck in November 2007, after spotting it on eBay, despite the fact that he already had a 1965 Chevy pickup at home. He'd been driving that one since his high school days 25 years earlier and it carried a lot of sentimental value, which was his excuse for not redoing it. "I was afraid that if it was too nice, and some fool offered me enough money, I would sell it—and I don't want to sell it." Building another one was the practical solution.
The eBay 1965 was a pretty good driver, but needed some repairs and a cosmetic overhaul. The gold metalflake paint was out of date. The stock 283 engine wasn't making a lot of power and the two-speed Powerglide's best days were behind it. The rocker panels were falling off and, on a cruise to the ice cream shop, Tim's wife Kim could watch the pavement rushing past through the holes in the floor.
Tim decided to tear the truck apart and brought it into his backyard shop to begin the five-year build. Once he had everything apart and the body had been sent off for repairs, Tim turned his attention to the chassis. The stock frame was powdercoated and reassembled with new components including a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II-style frontend. The '65 rearend runs the stock 3.73:1 gear ratio and is narrowed 3 inches. Bumps in the road are ironed out by Bilstein coilover shock absorbers mounted in the front and rear, and braking is accomplished by Baer disc brakes with 14-inch rotors all around. A 20-gallon gas tank from Rock Valley Antique Auto Parts was located beneath the bed. Jason Smith from Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, routed the steel fuel lines and brake lines, in addition to installing the shocks and air conditioning.
The fender openings are filled with 20x10 and 18x8 Legacy 2 wheels with spinner caps from Billet Specialties. A set of 265/50ZR20 and 235/50ZR18 BFGoodrich g-Force radials were mounted on the vintage-style rims.
The 283 and Powerglide that had lived in the C10 for 40 years were evicted in favor of an updated powertrain. Now the C10 moves under the power of a 2002 6.0-liter LS1. Mark Campbell from Street & Performance provided a lot of help during this portion of the build; the engine is fed by a Street & Performance throttle body and Weiand intake manifold. S&P headers pipe the exhaust to a pair of Borla mufflers. An 2002 GM 4L80E transmission with a Lokar floor shifter is the perfect backup for the LS1 engine.
As the chassis and other parts of the pickup were being built, the body sheetmetal was being repaired and straightened at Shady Point Body Shop in Shady Point, Oklahoma. The rotten rockers and holey floor were fixed as well as the cab corners. When every panel was straight, Shady Point painter Adam Costello covered them in DuPont silver and white paint over a white base (Tim says that in direct sunlight it can appear white). Omar Dunn spent hours wet-sanding and buffing to make the finish look as perfect as possible. All-new glass for the truck came from J&J Auto Glass in Poteau, Oklahoma, where the Wilsons live. The bed floor wood was replaced with pine, installed by Tim.
The silver and white of the exterior, and black and chrome and polish of the engine compartment is dramatically contrasted by the interior. The custom bench seat was constructed by Chuck Rowland at CAR Upholstery in Tulsa, then stitched up in yards of tomato-red leather. Matching door panels and carpeting were chosen to complete the effect—and even the Budnik steering wheel (on an ididit tilt column) got the treatment. The stock dash was modified with electronic instruments from Dakota Digital. Vintage Air A/C controls the cabin temperature. The Clarion stereo and Memphis Car Audio amp and speakers provide the soundtrack. Tracey Morris and Keith Davis handled the wiring, made simpler with a Painless Performance kit.
The C10 was finished in October of 2012, just in time for its big debut at the Goodguys Lone Star Nationals. After five years of building, a week of cleaning and detailing for the show, and a five-hour drive from Poteau to Fort Worth, bad luck struck when the front bumper got bent as the truck was backing off the flatbed trailer. A cleaning rag, meant to look like it was casually left on the bumper, was carefully placed to hide the damage. Tim almost got away with it, until CUSTOM CLASSIC TRUCKS contributing photographer Joseph Dowling walked up to talk about shooting a feature story—but not with a bent bumper.
Suddenly Tim was in a one-man reality show, on a hunt for a '63-66 C10 front bumper somewhere at the Texas Motor Speedway—with the clock ticking. As luck would have it, vendor H&H Classic from Bentonville, Arkansas, found one socked away in the back of their truck. Tim bought a few tools from another vendor and was able to finish the bumper swap before Dowling came back to take these photos.
The success of this '65 Chevy has given Tim the incentive to rebuild his high school C10. With a 468 big-block, dual four-barrels, and a six-speed, he promises "It'll really be nice."