Part 1: Core Strength and Conditioning

Relating a classic truck build to an iconic movie title is a great way to get people to remember your project and point it out at the local truck shows. The concept behind project Rocky was to find an old, retired workhorse of a truck, tear it all the way down to its core, and completely rebuild it into an all new, better version of its original self.

Rocky Balboa is a well-known character in classic cinema, and his story equally relates to the tale we are telling: retired, reborn and eventually re-reigning as the king with the crown, or in this case championship belt. That’s the plan for project Rocky, although I bet we’re going in a different direction than you would expect.

This truck came from the factory in 2WD and we plan to keep it that way since it’s a street truck only. We are not towing anything, and we’re not going off road. We’re simply ripping it around the streets and enjoying a cool, fun, modernized classic truck.

To clear our 22×12 American Force wheels, we will need a bit of a lift kit installed on this truck, but not too tall. We only need to clear a 33-inch-tall Toyo tire, but the width of the wheel will require a tad more height upfront. The best way to get some extra inches out of the front of a classic 2WD truck is to simply replace the spindles. Unfortunately, no one makes lift spindles for a ’73-’87 2WD Squarebody truck. So we had to improvise and use a Rough Country 4-inch lift spindle for an ’88-’98 C1500. The upper and lower control arm ball joints will also have to be swapped to match the spindles.

This is just the beginning of what is expected to be an exciting build. Keep up to date by following us online via social media, and subscribing to both Street Trucks and C10 Builder’s Guide. This will be one of those trucks you want to ride in, and if you see us at a truck show, hop in the passenger seat and let’s go!

We picked up this 1979 Chevy C10 for a fair $2,000 from a private seller on Facebook. It didn’t run and the body is full of dents and rust, but it includes plenty of potential, which is the most important factor.

The modified small-block Chevy 350 was bricked up and useless, so we yanked it out and tossed it in the scrap pile.

With the engine out, it was easy to unbolt the fenders and remove the complete front clip in one piece. Thank goodness for forklifts!

Next we had to get a little dirty by crawling under the cab and unbolting the body. The bed can then be set aside with the front clip.

Finally the cab can be lifted with the forklift as well. Carefully centering the straps is very important, you don’t want a tweaked cab!

Now that the body is removed, we can start on the frame rails. We just need to unbolt the original springs and suspension before new stuff can be added.

With the factory suspension removed, we brought it over to the sandblaster to clean all the metal.

Now that the frame is back in the shop and all our Rock Auto parts are laid out, it’s clear we have quite a cool project on our hands.

To coat the frame in our garage, we used RustSeal, a ready-to-use, rust preventive coating. RustSeal flows out to a beautiful, rock-hard, tough ceramic-like coating that is tough to chip or scratch. It will not crack or peel.

Starting with the truck frame upside down will allow us to flip it over and finish it right side up. Once it’s completely coated, it’s ready to build.

This brush-on material is easy to use, but it does make a mess. Be sure you have cardboard on the ground and gloves on your hands.

The material is shiny at first but dulls out to the perfect finish once it’s completely dry. Be sure to watch those threads!

The first new part from Rock Auto are the upper control arms. These are factory original for ’79 Chevy C10 HD trucks with ’88-’98 TTX ball joints from Mevotech.

The lower control arms are also from a ’79 Chevy C10 HD truck with ’88-’98 ball joints.

The trick to the lift is this 4-inch lift spindle for ’88-’98 Chevy trucks. With the swapped out ball joints, everything matches up correctly.

Cotter pins complete the front and now we can focus on the steering.


The front setup looks great and everything fits perfectly. This is a unique set up, and we can’t wait to bolt on the wheels!