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Like Clockwork – 1960 C-10 Apache Daily Driver

I think we all can agree that attention to detail leads to success, and the earlier we understand this, the better. James Voit might be standing at the threshold of his 40s, but he’s been working on custom rides for as long as he can remember, and he’s been sweating the small stuff for that long, too.

“I've been messing with anything with wheels as far back as childhood after watching my dad work on his own projects,” James recalls. But it wasn’t until he was out of high school that he started to take the lead on a variety of wheeled projects. “I started custom builds in my early 20s with ’bagged rides, rock crawlers and bikes, and I’ve been messing with one or the other since then.”

One that James has been “messing around” with is this ’60 C-10 wearing original paint that he likes to call Clockwork, perhaps because that’s how it runs, or maybe because he has spent a great deal of time at night and on the weekends building this daily driver in his two-car garage in Tyler, Texas.

The Base Project
The two-wheel-drive C-designated trucks started production in 1960 and lasted for nearly 40 years. They’ve been important to restorers and customizers because, the 1960 model specifically, featured several firsts for GM. Most important of these milestones was the drop-center ladder frame, which meant the cab could sit lower and the independent front suspension, which gave the truck a car-like ride. James’ C-10 is a 1/2-ton, which was known before 1960 as the 3100, while the new C series designation means “conventional” (aka two-wheel drive) and the “10” denotes a 1/2-ton truck. Apaches, the model name given to 10, 20, 30 and 40 series, could be had in smooth fleetside or fendered stepside versions. James’ original example here is a stepside.

The overall appearance of the truck was left as Chevrolet had originally produced it and with what Mother Nature has done to it throughout the last 58 years. The paint is faded with a weathered patina. The interior is sparse, the seats torn, the carpet worn and the dash sun-beaten, but this is exactly the way it’s supposed to look. Every scratch earned, every rip a story, and every faded panel tells a survivor’s tale, and they’re meant to stay. What’s important to James and custom builders like him is what’s under the hood, between the frame rails.

Suspension Changes

The overall wheelbase wasn’t changed, but work began in earnest on the frame rails to accommodate suspension changes and wide tires and wheels. Though James custom built the rear half of the truck’s frame, the front came from an S-10, a setup better able to handle his engine choice.

The oddball Ford 8.7 differential in back, used for a dozen years or so on its full-sized trucks, offers a strong alternative to Chevy’s stock diff. Plus it was easily shoehorned into James’ project and his homemade 6-link suspension kit for the rearend. James’ custom-built 6-link suspension leaf kit features a set of 2.63 joints from Ballistic Fabrication in Tucson, Arizona. They feature one-piece steel construction and polyurethane races. The extra bumps in the road are handled by a set of Fox shocks.

Up front, in addition to the S-10 front clip, the original torsion bars were dumped in favor of upgraded suspension gear, like the upper and lower arms and the modified sway bar from Michigan Metal Works of Midland, Michigan.

The stock drum brakes at the back were scrapped in favor of a set of disc brakes from Ford, while the front brakes are big brake kit versions sold by McGaughy’s Suspension Parts in Fresno, California. The truck sits deep on its tires thanks to a Slam’s Specialties SS series airbags.

Rubber and Wheels

A quartet of 695 satin black wheels from Ridler Custom Wheels with a machined face and a polished lip at all four corners keeps the truck off of the ground. All four are 20s, but the fronts are a scant 7 inches wide, while the rears are 10s. Wrapped around the retro-looking rims are Falkin tires, P225/35R20 up front and P275/35R20 out back.

The Project’s Heart

The faint original engine that GM placed in the C-10s simply wouldn’t do; after nearly 60 years, only a replacement would be good enough for James’ dreams of a meaty daily driver. While you’re dreaming, you might as well dream big; at least big enough for a 1/2-ton truck. Instead of the likely inline-six that occupied space under the hood, James opted for a 3.9L Cummins four-cylinder from a 1992 GM truck. With only a rated 105 original horsepower and 265 ft-lbs of torque, the eight-valve 4BT engine is poky (taking up just 16.5 cubic feet of space), perfect for a smaller ’60s-era pickup truck.

The biggest drawback of the 4BT is that it’s not a modern diesel, which is a plus for a lot of custom builders. It’s a bit antiquated and unrefined, and while that’s not always all bad, for the uninitiated, the rattle, shake and noise of this diesel engine will be too much. But this is also why there is no stereo system in this truck. “You can’t hear anything over the engine and exhaust anyways,” James told us.

A radiator from a 1954 Chevy cools the engine’s fluids, while the air cleaner has been cobbled together from a mix of seemingly random things, like a ’60s-era paint pressure pot with an original headlight bezel acting as the velocity stack poking through the front grille. Gases exit through a custom-built 4 1/2-inch exhaust system that sticks out just behind the front wheel wells.

Power comes through a 1992 stock transmission (originally paired to the diesel found on the 2500), a NV4500 five-speed manual unit manufactured by New Venture Gear and used in General Motors and Chrysler products from 1991-2007 (hence the “NV” designator). The transmission then passes along the horses through the driveshaft and custom-built steel driveline from WC Supply in Tyler. There it splits off in the Ford differential to the rear-drive wheels.

Exterior Upgrades

Built in James’ garage, the body was customized only slightly (aside from the chassis changes). The hood was removed completely, and what’s left of the original Omaha Orange paint scheme was subsidized with black and red oxide primer. The bumpers, grille and gas tank are stock, but the rear bumper is tricked out with some genuine Texas horseshoes. The rear taillights are FTWs.

On the Inside

James jokes that the bench seat fabric is made from “cloth, foam and steel” because you can see all three when you look through the window. But what immediately comes to view is the custom-made torch gear shifter, giving the mechanicals in the cab a very steampunk appearance.

The steering wheel, dash and gauges are stock, with the exception of the boost pressure gauge added to the A-pillar from NY Gauge Company. With summer on the horizon, next on James’ list of things to improve is the addition of an AC unit.

Wrapping Up
These are rare trucks now. They’ve been used, abused, wrecked and discarded for nearly seven decades. Not only finding one but also bringing it back to life—while maintaining some of its heritage, age, patina and originality—is a Herculean task. Considering that he did this mostly by himself in his garage, with help from only a few close friends, Shaggy and David Poon, James has created a stellar addition to the patina movement by knowing what to change and what to leave. In other words, he exercised a little attention to detail.

Build Specs:

Owner: James Voit
Location: Tyler, TX
Truck: 1960 Chevrolet C-10 Apache

Engine
1992 four-cylinder Cummins 4BT diesel engine
1992 Chevrolet NV4500 manual transmission
WC Supply driveline
1954 Chevrolet radiator
Garret turbo
Custom exhaust system
Custom intake system

Body & Paint
Factory original paint
Original bumpers and fenders
FTW chopper taillights

Wheels & Tires
20×7 and 20×10 Ridler Custom Wheels, 695 satin black
P225/35R20 and P275/35R20 Falken tires

Chassis & Suspension
Stock Ford 8.7 differential
Narrowed rearend
Narrowed custom-built frame
S-10 front clip
Custom 6-link suspension
Ballistic 2.63 suspension joints
Ford rear disc kit
Fox shocks
Slam Specialties airbag kit
S10 front suspension
McGaughy’s Suspension Parts big brake kit
Michigan Metal Works upper and lower arms

Interior & Stereo
Stock interior
Schrader Bellows/Parker manual valves
NY Gauge Company boost pressure gauge
Custom gear selector

Special Thanks From the Owner: “I’d like to thank my mom and dad for preprogramming me to be a workaholic and having attention to detail. And I’d like to thank my girl, Saher, for being patient during the build, especially with the long nights and weekends.”