I built a truck. Twice. Two and a half times if you count that 4×4 V8 S-Series Jimmy winter beater, but really, that’s hardly a truck. First, there was Fast Orange, a ’72 C10 long box that was rusted right from asshole to breakfast. Every time I turned a knob, slid a lever, or flipped a switch, the fuse box would catch fire. Everything under the dash was done in white wire, so when there was a problem I just had to replace whichever one had turned brown. Under the hood, everything was done in yellow wire, and nothing under there ever caused problems, oddly enough. Why did I call it Fast Orange? Simple math, really. It had fat tires, glasspacks, a huge shift kit, and an open 12-bolt with 4.11 gears. It had about one-hundred horsepower, but that didn’t matter, it barked that passenger rear tire into third. Why did I take it off the road and actually fix it? I guess I got attached to the stupid thing, and one day I hit the train tracks a little fast, rupturing the passenger side rocker panel and causing the passenger door to open. Oops.
Next, there’s the truck I’m talking about. A 1964 Chevy C10 SWB fleetside. The Tornado. The Natural Disaster. My Sexy Suicide. Call it what you want, it’s literally the most painful thing that I’ve ever had to put on the road. First thing’s first, a little history: A fellow club member once had a trike. It was one of those long, wide, Roth-like show trikes with the big block and transaxle out of an Olds Toronado mounted in it. I guess it was hard to ride, and equally hard to insure (as it had to be plated as a Toronado) so he took it apart, bought a pro-street 1964 C10, and made one out of two. A rear-engine pickup, a pickup that can’t actually pick up. Unfortunately, it didn’t drive well, it didn’t handle well, and it didn’t sell well. Even after a couple price reductions, no one bought it, so it was laid to rest in his carport for a few years. That’s where I came in.
It didn’t run, it had a couple flat tires, the bed was right full of leaves, and it was filthy. Sold! He agreed to deliver it to me, and I agreed to do something with it, though at the time I had no idea what (I just really wanted a low 60-66 C10).
Fast-forward a week, and I’d cleaned it out, checked it over, and determined that it was ready for the street. Yep. A solid week. It didn’t come with keys, so I drilled out the Ford Aerostar steering column, and cranked it over with a screwdriver. It cranked great, all the lights worked, but it wasn’t getting fuel. I took the fuel line off, and nothing ran out. The tank was full of crud. Luckily I’d only poured a gallon of fuel in, so I strained that gallon back into the gas can, tossed a chain into the tank, and shook it around for a few minutes to loosen all the debris. Time for round two!
This time, the fuel ran out the bottom nipple just fine, but the fuel pump wasn’t pumping… Of course not, why would it? I picked up a fuel pump and a glass filter at the parts store the next day, assembled it all, and had success! The fuel pumped right up to the dirty old Quadrajet, filled the bowls, and sat there, as the old carb was gummed right up. A quick swap with the greasy stocker off of Fast Orange, and yet another twist of the screwdriver, and that big block rumbled to life. Test drive time! At night no less!
I didn’t die. Neither did my passenger. That’s all I can say. When I floored the accelerator, the truck pulled hard to the left, fighting it’s way into oncoming traffic. When I slightly touched the brakes, they basically locked up, sending me towards the ditch. But it drove! I cannot stress enough how determined I was to make this work in its current state. Unfortunately, determination ends up costing several thousand dollars, takes several hundred hours, and causes a guy like me to carry a suicide note around in case I took too many stay-awake drugs, or died on test drive version 2.0…
Today, this truck has probably 15,000 miles on it or something like that? It’s been painted five times, tanked the original engine, worn one set of rear tires out, and actually been a lot of fun. It’s loud, expensive, somewhat shocking, and works really quite well. The only problem with it? It needs paint and bodywork again, the bed still wears the tires out, and I’ve never been happy with the grille/front bumper combo, much less the color. Time for a re-do. I’m going to need a lot of stay-awake junk…