When you experience the automotive hobby at an early age, the fun stays with you for life. Dan Rowland, from Grant, Florida, knows that firsthand. Doing professional upholstery work for a living, Dan and has been an enthusiast as far back as he can recall. “I remember taking a wrench to my pedal car,” he says smiling. Growing up on a farm in South Florida, when machinery broke, you simply fixed it. Those skills soon transferred to a teenager’s first ride and now, a half-century later, Dan’s enthusiasm for the hobby hasn’t diminished a bit. Over the years, he has created nearly a dozen custom cars and this is his first custom truck.
Found in the classifieds, this ’65 C10 Custom Cab shortbed truck was the right choice for nostalgic reasons, since it was similar to a truck that his father owned. The vintage ride was in rough condition, having suffered a hit in the rear that pushed the bed into the cab. Dan assessed the damage, however, and knew he could bring it back to life.
The restoration process began with separating the body and frame, and since he had some unusual plans for the suspension, Dan began by boxing the rear framerails, adding a crossmember from 2-inch square tubing, then triangulating it with 1-inch square tubing. Once all the custom bracketry was established, Dan installed something you rarely find on a vintage C10. He had previous experience with Jaguar independent suspensions, having installed one on a Model A he owned in the past. He found a V-12 Jag donor car and before long, the complete front clip and the independent rear suspension were installed in the vintage Chevy.
Although the swap sounds difficult, the work was worth it since it not only makes an impressive visual when anyone stoops to see the underside, but it also made a dramatic improvement in the old farm truck’s ride. The 11-inch, dual-caliper disc brakes up front and the corresponding inboard 11-inch disc brakes in the rear guaranteed modern stopping power. Jaguar coilovers in the rear and standard springs with GM shocks up front stabilized all four wheels.
Trimming the shaft of the Chevrolet steering column was all that was necessary to adapt it to the Jag power rack-and-pinion box. As an additional benefit to the new suspension, the truck sits at a pleasantly low static ride height on its 20-inch GFG Trento forged modular rims. Pirelli 245/35-ZR20 front and 275/30-ZR20 rear tires ensure the wheelwells are filled and plenty of rubber contacts the ground. The Jaguar track was slightly narrower than the Chevrolet, so machined adapters were added to position the tires correctly in the wheelwells.
The original 283 V-8 had seen its share of hard road miles and was in need of replacement. In an amazing bit of good fortune, Dan was attending the NSRA Southeast Nationals in Tampa and was already having a great time. But his weekend improved dramatically when he heard his name called as the winner of a 350ci/300hp Vortec crate motor. It became the perfect performance upgrade to the truck with its 600-cfm AFB carb, Edelbrock Performer intake, and MSD ignition. Dan added Block Hugger Hedman headers feeding dual Flowmaster mufflers. To give the truck a sporting feel, he mated the engine to a four-speed Camaro T10 transmission and Hurst floor shifter. Cooling is handled by the stock Chevrolet radiator with Dan incorporating a custom-designed fan shroud for increased cooling.
Since he does upholstery work for a living, Dan and his wife Mary worked together on the interior, redoing the original Chevrolet bench seat in supple Buckskin leather using a hide given to them by friends. It was just enough for the seat, door panels, armrests, and visors. Although much of the dash remains original, the idiot lights were eliminated in favor of actual gauges, upgraded by Dan’s son, Dan Jr., a machinist at Renntech in Palm Beach. Music was next and sound deadening was added to the floor and firewall to better enjoy the JVC CD/MP3 stereo and pair of 6x9 speakers. The Jag made one final donation, the classic 15-inch Nardi rosewood steering wheel.
Body mods on the Chevy are subtle, beginning with the unique door handles, using an inset grip that activates the latch. A custom gas filler cap replaces the original and keeps the body lines smooth. The power side mirrors were adapted from an ’85 Buick that also donated parts for the tilt-forward hood mechanism. Dan fabricated his own brackets to hold it in place. The damaged portion of the original bed was replaced and the bed floor was outfitted with traditional red oak planks and stainless-steel strips.
Eliminating the flanges and visible bolts sanitized the otherwise stock Chevy wheel tubs. Stake pockets were filled and Dan Jr. fabricated the custom latches for the tailgate. A NASCAR-style spoiler was added to the top of the tailgate and the rear bumper was eliminated, replaced with a custom rear pan that holds the angled license plate. Technostalgia LEDs replace the dim original taillights, ensuring modern rear visibility.
Moving up front, Dan added bright halogen headlights and closed off the original hood-mounted parking lights, replacing them with high-intensity running lights in the grille. There were subtle changes to the grille itself, now relocated 11⁄2-inch deeper into the opening. The bumper was also tucked in 1 inch closer to the body and the bumper bolts were welded to the rear for a smooth appearance.
Dan accomplished his own paintwork and, although he sprayed it in his backyard, the finish is flawless. From the PPG Glamour palette, the colors are Sahara Tan and Orangutan Orange, accented with custom pinstriping. Dan is proud to say he did all the work himself, part-time over a 10-year period. The truck has been on the road about a year and a half and is the perfect fun vehicle for local cruise-ins and car shows. Dan and Mary also enjoy picking up their two young grandchildren after soccer practice and heading off for a weekly treat at a local restaurant.
Chevy C10 Custom Cab
boxed, Jaguar front clip, custom crossmembers
Rearend / Ratio:
Jaguar XK12 / 3.00:1
20-inch GFG Trento modular
20-inch GFG Trento modular
300hp Chevy 350 Vortec crate engine
Manifold / Induction:
Edelbrock Performer / 600-cfm Carter AFB
Hedman Block Hugger
Exhaust / Mufflers:
custom / Flowmaster
Custom Cab pickup
custom door handles, custom fuel filler, forward tilting hood, filled stake pockets, shaved emblems, filled front signal light openings, tucked grille and front bumper
Bodywork and paint by:
Paint type / Color:
PPG / Sahara Tan, Orangutan Orange
Headlights / Taillights:
halogen / Technostalgia LED
Outside mirrors: ’85 Buick
Bumpers: modified front, rear roll pan
Dan & Mary Rowland (owners)
Material / Color:
leather / Buckskin