Some truck projects seem to take forever, building up momentum with the speed of a tree stump. The danger of that slow pace is the project veering off course into some unintended—and more expensive—direction.
That's not what happened here. Brandon Van Tassel knew what he wanted. Remarkably, the truck was built in six short months and turned out exactly as planned.
The only step of the project that took a while was making the first decision to buy the truck. "I had wanted an old truck for a long time," Brandon told us. "I came across this fully stock 1979 Chevy Scottsdale C10 on Craigslist. It was a one-owner truck that had been garaged with only 75,000 original miles on the stock 250 engine. I fell in love with it and knew right away what I wanted to do with it.
"After seeing the truck in person I was even more impressed. My only setback was the motor. I testdrove it with a big white camper shell on it and was a little worried about whether the stock six-cylinder could deliver enough power. But a one-owner truck this clean is hard to come by.
"About a week went by and I went back with my wife Rachel. I convinced the owner to take off the shell and we went for another ride. It was much better without the heavy camper shell. We were both smiling from ear to ear the whole time, and I knew I had to have it."
It didn't take Brandon long to get busy on the truck. The day after he bought it, he was buying new bumpers, a new rear window to replace the slider, and new tailgate hardware. His next purchase was a McGaughy's 4/6 lowering kit, including drop spindles and coil springs for the front and a flip kit and bolt-in C-notch kit for the rear. Belltech shocks were mounted at each corner. Brandon removed the bed to make it easier to give the underside some fresh black paint—and to make the rear suspension installation easier. He says he pulled apart the front end "about a dozen times" to carve a little more out of the coils until the stance was perfect.
When it was time to choose tires and wheels, Brandon consulted his brother-in-law Ryan Reed, owner of Reed's Ride Designs in Corona, California. After they decided on 17-inch cast finish E-T Classic V wheels, Ryan measured for the correct offset and ordered wheels custom-made to fit. Mastercraft sent a few sets of tires to the shop so Brandon and Ryan could pick the size that looked and fit the best, and make whatever modifications were needed to get the stance just right. Ryan suggested big 275/65/17 Courser HTRs to fill the rear wells, and 235/60/17 Touring LSRs for the front.
The body and bed were in great condition, and Brandon's plans didn't call for extensive body modifications. "The owner called it a creampuff and that it was." Abe Rodriguez at Abe's Custom Painting in Riverside, California, took care of the small amount of sheetmetal work and paint touch-up, particularly where the camper shell had been. Weather seals and window channels were replaced and new rear cab mount bushings were installed to get the cab molding to line up with the bed molding. The bed and tailgate were re-painted and Brandon commissioned the legendary graphic painter Dennis Ricklefs to finish the tailgate lettering in gold leaf.
Brandon admitted that back when he was still wondering whether or not to buy the truck, he decided to keep looking—primarily because of the stock inline-six engine. It was Ryan who convinced him to go after it. He'd get better gas mileage from the 250—a benefit for a daily driver—and he could replace the engine for something bigger down the road. Today, the truck's still running the straight-six, cleaned up, but bone stock. Behind the original engine is the original TH350 transmission. At the rear—you guessed it—the original 8.5-inch rearend running the 3.42:1 gears in order to make the most of the torque from the 250.
The interior was—and still is—pristine and completely stock. The Scottsdale trim package offered custom vinyl upholstery for the bench seat and color-matching rubber floor mats, both retained in Brandon's truck. Bonanza was an additional trim level for Scottsdales. No, Brandon's 1979 isn't an original Bonanza, but it wears the badging. "The previous owner's name is Bonanza, so he replaced the original Scottsdale emblems with Bonanza emblems, and I decided to keep that."
The C10's longest trip (so far) was from its first home in Escondido, California, to its new home in Corona, and it's been Brandon's driver since he bought it. It's a classic example of a simple budget-built truck that looks great, rides great, and gets driven every day.
The body and bed were in great condition, and Brandon's plans didn't call for extensive body modifications. "The owner called it a creampuff and that it was."