Howard Stubbins relationship with all things four-wheeled started at the tender age of 10 when he went to work with his father at his service station and garage. His first car, a 1938 Chevy coupe, was purchased a few years later when Howard turned 15. It wouldn't be until he married his wife Janet that he'd purchase his first new car, a 1968 Chevy C20 pickup truck. Powered by a 392ci big-block Chevy engine, they eventually handed down the keys to their son Mark.
It wasn't long before Howard and Janet realized they needed a 1968 of their own. Luckily, Howard knew of a truck that had been in a state of constant upgrade and the owner, wanting to expand his business, would probably be motivated to sell. Originally a six-cylinder truck upgraded with a 305ci V-8, Howard had always told the owner that what it really needed was a big-block Chevy. At the time he never thought he'd be the one to make good on his own advice, but before they knew it, the Stubbins were hauling the C10 over to Hot Rods & Hobbies in nearby Signal Hill, California, where it would stay for the entirety of the build.
Scott Bonowski and his crew wasted no time tearing the truck down to the bare frame, while creating a game plan with Howard. Naturally, plans called for big-block Chevy power, along with the necessary suspension modifications to get the truck to handle, stop, and steer better than stock. For that end, the guys decided to retain the stock chassis, boxed, C-notched, and modified with a custom crossmember built to accept the modified trailing arms that locate the Chevy rearend. Packed with 3.73 gears, that Chevy axle hangs by a pair of JRI coilover shocks and provides stopping power via 13-inch Baer disc brakes. Up front, modified stock control arms add extra strength to drop spindles and lowered coil springs, tamed by a pair of 5-inch-travel shocks with roll control governed by a beefy sway bar. Baer 13-inch disc brakes match the stopping power put down out back, powered by a dual piston remote hydroboost master cylinder. Steering duties are handled by a 605 power box mated to a Chevy van tilt column topped by a Billet Specialties steering wheel. The entire chassis was then detailed nose to tail before being sat on a custom-sized set of 18-inch Budnik Famoso wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza tires, 265/40R18s up front and 275/45R18s out back.
True to his word, when it came time to replace the tired V-8, Howard set his sights on one of Chevrolet Performance Parts' biggest and baddest offerings—a Ram Jet ZZ502. With forged internals, a hydraulic roller cam, aluminum heads, and that unmistakable Ram Jet intake manifold, Howard's truck has no problem getting from here to there in a hurry! Scott and his crew gave the motor the true Hot Rods & Hobbies treatment, detailing every square inch of the big-block, massaging the intake and block before bolting on the Vintage Air Front Runner accessory drive system, D.A.H. Works headers, and Clay Cook Custom valve covers. The 500-plus horsepower monster was then mated to a TH-400 trans coupled with a Gear Vendors under/overdrive unit and breathes through a stainless D.A.H. Works 3½-inch exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers.
Turning his attention to the sheetmetal of the truck, Scott and his crew proceeded to tick off a laundry list of modifications. The driprails around the roof of the cab were removed, along with the seam above the rear window that runs from door to door. The roof skin was also lowered a ½ inch to create a sleeker roofline. One-piece windows from One Piece Products and flush-mounted rear glass also complement the redesigned cab, while the shaved door handles, cowl, and firewall further enhance the truck's smooth lines. Scott also removed and smoothed the void where the side marker lights once sat as well creating a rolled pan, front and rear, in lieu of the stock bumpers. The turn signals in the front grille were also removed, as was the Bowtie emblem and "Chevrolet" lettering across the hood. The tailgate received a similar treatment with the removal of the embossed marque replaced by a smooth panel. Once the myriad of modifications were complete, Scott blocked the truck to perfection and then brought it into his booth where he applied the PPG three-stage Pearl Orange paint. Dennis Rickleffs was then brought in to further enhance the truck with a little beltline pinstriping.
Inside the cab, which was painted to match the cappuccino leather upholstery stitched up by Sid Chavers, Scott modified a spare glovebox door to accept a sextet of Classic Instruments gauges. A Vintage Air climate control system was installed behind the dash, complete with hideaway vents to keep things sanitary. A Pioneer audio system ensures the ride sounds as good as it looks, tied to the rest of the truck via Painless Performance wiring harness. The modified stock bench seat was reworked by Sid Chavers before being wrapped in the aforementioned leather to match the door panels. Wilton Wool carpet and Ultrasuede cover what leather does not.
The long-awaited completion of Howard's truck was perhaps a bittersweet moment, as both he and Scott enjoyed the experience of planning and executing such a build, from start to finish. Staying true to the original plan being one of the most challenging aspects of any build, it was especially so for the Stubbins' build. New products would come on the market and it was difficult to not want to incorporate each and every piece in order to build what they thought would be the ultimate truck. At the end of the day, perseverance paid off with what we think is one incredible C10.