Illness is often a subjective scenario for both physical and mental conditions. Some things are easier to diagnose through simple blood tests or routine physical or psychological exams, but what about the all too common yet incurable automotive disease? We're not sure if there's an official medical term for it yet, but it affects millions worldwide and is commonly coupled with severe addiction tendencies to collect things like signs, old mechanical parts, and complete vehicles; it almost shows no rhyme or reason as long as it's automotive-related. Doctors don't know how to treat it, so most of the afflicted self-medicate.
For Rene Martinez, it started early on in life when his dad bought a brand-new Chevy Cheyenne C-10 pickup in 1971. The truck was Hugger Orange with an unusual blue interior from the factory, and maybe it was the odd color combination that set something off in Rene's head about '67-72 Bow Tie trucks that would surface years later. Perhaps it was a long-term effect from drinking bad water his whole life, lead paint poisoning, or a hereditary neurological disease that stayed dormant in his brain until the right (or wrong) time. At first, he paid little attention to the truck, and after his dad gave it to his older brother in '74, it was offered to Rene in '78, but he turned it down in favor of finding a '57 Bel Air to cruise in.
In '84, Rene admits he finally matured and decided he needed a truck. He saw a lowered '71 Cheyenne shortbox gliding down the road, which prompted him to call the uncle who bought his dad's '71 when he refused it to see if he could talk him out of it now. His uncle laughed and told him to find his own.
It wasn't until '87 that Rene found his own after mentioning to some co-workers that he was in the market for a Chevy shortbed truck. It just so happened one of them had a brother-in-law who had one for sale. Rene bought the black '70 from him and kept it for nine years before letting it go, which he regrets to this day. Selling the truck wound up exasperating his C-10 sickness even more, which started a hunt for the right truck that has put Rene's name on 14 '67-72 Chevy titles, including two Blazers, one Suburban, and one panel, on top of the 10 shortbeds to date! It's gotten so out of hand that people actually stop by Rene's house in the small Central California town of Atwater to sell him their truck or tip him off about one that needs a new home.
This '68 CST is number 13 in the bunch, and it came by way of a phone call asking if Rene knew anyone who wanted to buy the truck. It was 90 percent restored and just needed all the finishing touches. Rene had seen the truck at a show six years previous to the call and asked the owner if he'd sell it to him, but he declined. Fate swung Rene's way again, and he took the truck home and called his now old friend Kevin Hernandez at Kev's Classics in nearby Fresno, California, to finish the resto.
The Custom Sports Truck, or CST, is now back to stock. It came dressed from GM to the hilt; unlike most trucks that were bought and used hard, this was a cowboy Cadillac. The CST has a deluxe interior package that was supposed to offer the comfort and appearance of a passenger car, which leads to one of the truck's most unique features, its rare bucket seats. When perched at the helm, a fully instrumented dash complete with a tach keeps Rene aware of the truck's vital signs. Kevin added a period GM tilt column Rene requested, which looks and functions perfectly almost like the original owner checked its box on the build sheet in '68. The rest of the interior is bone stock, with the exception of the Custom AutoSound stereo. The drivetrain is a no-frills yet dutiful rebuilt stock 307 V-8 topped with a Rochester two-barrel carb backed by a Powerglide. In '68, the 307 replaced the 283 as the base V-8, which outsold straight-sixes for the first time in Chevrolet truck history, a fitting 50th anniversary milestone for the automaker. Always wanting to hear his trucks, Rene put some 22-inch old-school glasspacks on the Chevy to add some rumble.
Hiding rebuilt stock suspension and brakes is a somewhat elusive light green color Rene dubbed Gumby Green paired with a creamy white the truck received during the unfinished restoration by the previous owner. In fact, so many people are interested in the green color's origin that Rene has been trying to contact the guy he bought it from, but to no avail. Being restored, one would think it'd be a stock '68 Chevy color, but it remains a mystery. There are even a few threads on Chevy truck message boards with people who want to know. Regardless, the paint is gorgeous and dressed with rechromed original trim by Specialized Metal Finishing in Atwater and stock chrome bumpers. The whole package is striking, to say the least. Original wheel covers are surrounded by 1 1/2-inch radial whitewalls from Coker Tire that kick the class meter up another notch.
The all-show resto on this '68 has seen more miles of California's highways than many people dare to drive in their late-model trucks. Rene has driven it several times down the well-used 5 freeway to Southern California to attend shows like the annual Brothers Truck Show, where we met him, which is about an 800-mile roundtrip. That factory air conditioning comes in handy while he's singing to the oldies on the open road. We think he's found the perfect prescription to cure all ills.