There are different schools of thought in the classic truck hobby when it comes to build styles. Some prefer by-the-book restorations, paying close attention to returning early pickups to their pristine stock configuration. Some follow the resto route but opt for minor deviations like non-stock or aftermarket wheels, tires, and possible improvements like suspension upgrades and maybe air conditioning or other comforts. Then, there are those who take it upon themselves to use their trucks as foundations to create their personal version of the perfect pickup.
We here at CLASSIC TRUCKS love 'em all and really enjoy the opportunity to showcase any and all of these build styles for our readers. That said-the awesome custom C-10 you see here is a great example of one hobbyist's version of the perfect pickup that we think you'll appreciate.
This '68 Chevy is the latest creation of Kevin Archer. Kevin has twisted wrenches on more than his fair share of '67-72 Chevy pickups over the years but this one is his first custom. His previous projects have all been by-the-book restorations, as he's always enjoyed returning his old trucks to their pristine showroom configurations. The experience he gained during the course of those makeovers was vast and opened his eyes to what he referred to as "the necessary evils" that go along with the mass-production process. And seeing as he's so partial to this particular body style, he thought it only fit that his latest creation address those "evils" and produce what in his opinion would be a C-10 in its cleanest, purest form-and we think he's done one heck of a job.
Kevin teamed up with Randy Huggenberger of Dakota Muscle Cars of North Sioux City, South Dakota-Kevin working as designer and Randy (as Kevin put it) as magician. The project began with Kevin sketching some ideas inspired by an aftermarket dash insert designed for '55-59 Chevy pickups that he'd seen on the Internet. He thought it was a cool design and wished '67-72s had a dash equally as pleasing-it was that thought that got the ball rolling. Soon Kevin was searching for a '68 Fleetside shortbed as the foundation for his first venture into the custom realm. As is often the case these days, eBay was the way to go and Kevin hit the jackpot by locating a pristine '68 in Harrison, Arkansas.
With a perfect rodstoration candidate in his possession Kevin continued to refine his ideas and worked closely with Randy so they remained on the same wavelength. The chassis was completely refurbished and treated to numerous aftermarket upgrades like a pair of CPP dropped spindles and four-wheel disc brakes, and an air ride system by Ridetech. He also C-notched the rear frame kick up and added an adjustable Panhard bar and sway bars. With the chassis upgrades accomplished the next step was a driveline that was up to the custom pickup's needs and standards. To this end, Kevin chose a 6.0L LS2 from Southern Performance Systems. The LS2 backed by a 4L65E was an authorized take out from a '06 Escalade with only five miles on the clock. The engine trans combo was totally complete from its fan belt to its ECM and wiring, though Kevin opted for a custom Nordstrom plug-and-play wiring harness that served to clean up the engine bay relative to the massive OEM harness-and he had Nordstrom tweak the ECM for a bit better performance while he was at it.
Though Kevin and Randy labored intensely on the chassis and driveline, it's the thought, imagination, and elbow grease put into the truck's body customization that sets this baby apart from the rest. The guys didn't make changes just for the sake of change, as you can plainly see, but did so to truly take the original design Kevin was enamored with to the next level. Kevin's goal was to, as he put it, remove the ugly stuff that made mass production easier. To that end, he replaced the original dash with one from a '57 Chevy pickup, shaved the cab's drip rails, filled the seam at the backside top of the cab, flush-fit the front and rear glass, converted the doors to one-piece glass (removing the wing windows), and filled the bedside stake pockets. As if that wasn't enough, he removed and relocated the fuel filler door, removed the Chevrolet lettering from the tailgate face, moved the tailgate latch handle from the exterior to the interior of the tailgate, shaved the body of all OEM trim and emblems, hand-fabricated a smooth firewall, fabricated pans to fill the space between the grille and the radiator support, and made a filler panel to eliminate the space between the rear bumper and the body-and the pair were still not satisfied. They continued the customization by flush-fitting custom taillight lenses and bezels, smoothing the bumpers, grafting fender vents from a '06 BMW M5 into the Chevy front fenders, and fabricating body trim from brass stock that they hand-formed and chrome plated.
With the myriad of details and bodywork completed, Randy then sprayed the pickup in multiple glass-smooth coats of Toyota Desert Sand Mica covered by Urethane clearcoat and handed it off to Darren Carlson for a custom interior that's every bit as impressive as the balance of the truck. Kevin got the '57 gauge cluster he liked so much as well as a 15-inch '57 Chevy passenger car-style steering wheel, custom low-back seating, and yard upon yard of meticulously stitched Ultraleather covering everything from its custom door panels to its handmade console assembly.
As you can plainly see, Kevin and his cadre of craftsmen have succeeded in producing one of the nicest C-10s we've had the pleasure to showcase-and with this one under his belt, we wonder if he'll ever go back to the restoration game ... Or will he set his sights on another custom to rival this one-only time will tell.