Moving on to the power portion, Darran says, "My requirements were aluminum heads and fuel injection, but after doing the math it cost less to buy an all aluminum LS1 than to rebuild the 327, so the LS1 it was." He tossed in a 5.7L GM LS1 motor in the Panel and kept all the internals stock. It's still a pretty strong puller, when utilizing most of the 350 hp it produces. Darran chose Corvette headers to begin the exhaust flow from the powerplant to the Flowmaster 21/4-inch pipes, which run into the Flowmaster 70 series universal dual mufflers that release a nice, mean growl. All this is breathing in some fresh air from the K&N CAI Darran tossed in. He then fabbed a custom adapter, which moved the mass airflow sensor to mount to the throttle body-again a nice little custom touch. The LS1 needed a good counter partner for a tranny, and the 4L60E was a great choice. The tranny, stock wiring harness, steering column, fuel tank with pump, and cruise control were all swiped from a wrecked Trans Am. Darran built all the motor and tranny mounts as well. A couple of little finishing touches were added for appearance along with Lokar engine and tranny dipsticks.
Designing and building his own rotisserie and cart to move the body around Darran was ready to tackle the body and whatnot. He started by blasting the underside and inside firewall. He also decided to tear out the old wood floor inside to get it ready for some fresh new oak. Darran then replaced the quarter-panels, driver doorskin, floorboards, and rocker panels and welded the seams on the hood. A lot of custom bodywork went into this project, including the front fenders, grille support, rocker panels, and the rear doorframe-all done by Darran. One of his most notable and unique mods is the pop-out taillight gas tank door-a very slick mod that can go unnoticed if you don't look close enough. The body was now ready to be put back on and ready for paint. "I blocked the whole thing down and took it to White's Frontier Motors in Gillette, where Jeff Poplin and Luke Schmidt sprayed it, and it looked awesome," Darran says. He went with a PPG Peacock (Viper Red) for his color of choice. Once he got the Panel back home Darran wanted to get some nice wheels put on for a finishing touch on the exterior. He went with 18x10 American Racing Torq-Thrusts 2, front and rear, wrapped nicely in Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber.
Moving on with the body freshly painted, the interior was next and last on Darran's list. Bucket seats were fabbed with custom-built armrests upholstered in Naugahyde with crushed velvet inserts, and the carpet was then redone all in gray. Carol's Upholstery in Gillette did all the upholstery. Dakota Digital VFD3 gauges were Darran's choice for the instrument panel. Another very unique and noticeable custom piece is the steering wheel. A custom billet piece with bicycle tire for the grip and shift buttons on the backside was fabbed by Zach Peterson at SoDak Machine. Darran also fabricated numerous interior pieces, including the prism-finished dash panels, hidden switches, pull-out shifter, air-ride control, and prism-finished sides in back. The Panel was just about buttoned up and ready for show time, but Darran had one last project he needed to do. You can't have a custom hot rod without good beats. He went with an iPod Nano for his head unit, a Rockford Fosgate P400 amplifier, which feeds power to his front and rear Alpine SPS-609 three-way 6x9s. Nothing overpowering, but every hot rodder has to have their cruising music whether it's for long road trips or just a quick trip to the corner store.
After all this work, and 33 years later, Darran still has the Panel he had to have because his older brother had one. Except now it is more than just a '65 C10 Panel; it's a family's past, present, and probably future. Darran says he would not have done anything differently, but he would "take a lot more pictures of things all through the build, and pictures of when I first got it."