Cherry Pie | Chad Cooper’s ’61 Chevy C10

Sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned. Whether it be a fateful turn of events, being at the right place at the right time, some indescribable cosmic force working in your favor, good karma finally paying off, or just good ‘ol fashioned dumb luck—you just have to be ready to go with the flow whenever a golden opportunity presents itself.

The 24-inch raceline bandits sure tuck nicely in this thoroughly massaged sheetmetal.

While not everyone is fortunate enough to purchase a lottery ticket worth millions, it’s still worthwhile to keep score of other meaningful life occurrences, such as finding a cool pickup project out in a field somewhere. That must be as good as hitting that Powerball number, right? While some folks might not be able to equate landing a big jackpot with scoring something as mundane as a rusty truck, keep in mind that we aren’t talking about just any truck here—or just any field, for that matter.

GOLDEN TICKET

To bring this picture into focus here, let’s start by describing the truck in question. Imagine an untouched early ’60s big-window shortbed C10. That’s a good start for sure, but it was in major need of some TLC while still thankfully being in largely original condition. The truck was accompanied by a heap of parts that may or may not help in the restoration process, but it’s usually better to have a surplus of bits and pieces than not enough in the long run anyway.

With this image in mind, now place it sitting in the back pasture of one Bob Grant of Grant Fab’s Northern California residence. While not everyone will be lucky enough to be in this most enviable position, Chad Cooper was there while Bob was showing some of his project vehicles that needed to be cleared out from his property.

“I was not planning on purchasing anything that day,” Chad admits. “When you get word that Bob Grant is selling some of his personal projects, you just go and see what he has. Luckily, I was able to make a deal work on this ’61 Chevy and Bob, being the awesome guy he is, honored a credit that I had with him that went back some 10 years before this day. The stars had seemed to align just right, so I went ahead with purchasing the C10 and had Bob himself perform some killer metalwork while it was still there at his disposal.”

STOCK CHOPPED

While at the Grant Fab compound, Chad’s C10 experienced a flurry of one-off alterations for the sole purpose of creating a truly unique classic Chevy truck in a sea of other customized classic Chevy trucks. As luck would have it, Bob Grant is just the guy you want on your team to help meet a goal like this.

Starting on the tired, stock condition C10, Bob got to work starting with a 2-inch chop top, modifying a front Ford bumper then lowering the front fender to meet the lines of the transplanted bumper. He then whipped up a custom rear roll pan for the truck, worked in a set of ’66 Ford F-100 taillights, and pretty much worked his magic on just about every metal panel imaginable during the year he had Chad’s C10 in his care.

While the progress on the truck seemed to be cruising along at a manageable pace, COVID happened. It seems like there is a wave of custom trucks that are just now being completed that were in-progress during that crazy lockdown as the logjam of supply chain constraints slowly begins to loosen as time has crawled on. During that time, Chad moved from California to Texas, so that impacted the build time as well.

With a great deal of the metalwork already taken care of, Chad’s next step for the truck was to look for a custom chassis builder in his new area, and he found just that Acme Chassis Factory in South Houston, Texas. While there, Griffin Gunner and Acme crew fabricated a full custom frame complete with high-end air-ride components that they were lucky enough to get their hands on in a timelier-than-average speed for this era. It did, however, take the guys a year or so to get the tires needed to cover the 24-inch Raceline wheels, which is kind of absurd to believe but still not as long of a delay that awaited Chad when it came time to get the engine he wanted.

It took all of three years to get a brand new 2021 GM LS7 crate engine in his possession, but once he had it, Chad had Nelson Racing in Chatsworth, California, take care of the rest. It was there where the engine was upgraded with a twin turbo setup before it was sent out to Texas for installation. That’s a hell of a setup for an old ’61 C10, but this former basket case of a field find was steadily evolving into a pickup easily differentiated from its peers.

METAL, PART 2

With the project still requiring some work inside of the bed as well as in the interior, Chad began yet another search—this time to find a talented, local metalworker on par with Bob Grant, which wasn’t an easy task.

“I knew that I had found the right guy to help with the rest of the truck’s metal as soon as I met Rocky Seaman,” Chad says enthusiastically. “Rocky, along with Daniel Dotlow of All N 1 Autoworks, Conroe, Texas, collaborated on creating custom sheetmetal bed paneling, an aluminum bed floor, as well as devising a motorized center panel to reveal the Acme chassis below. Rocky and Daniel also created a killer metal dash to showcase their handiwork front and center in the cab, which was soon outfitted with an Alpine Halo receiver, Air Lift and Vintage Air controllers, along with fresh instrumentation.”

While Chad’s bare metal beauty is looking mean and clean as-is, there is still much work to be done to carry it across the finish line. This truck isn’t his only iron in the fire, as Chad has another high-quality vehicle also in the build phase, but he did have to sell four of his other rides to work on this ’61 Chevy pickup at the same time. So far, there is not one single thing he’d like to see changed. Currently, Rocky is gearing up to get started on fabricating panels for the engine compartment as well as the underneath the bed floor.

Chad refers to this highly anticipated under construction truck as Cherry Pie—a nod to the hair band Warrant. Even though it is still rocking its recognizable bare metal finish, that nickname may be an indication as to a possible paint color to come. If not, this truck’s namesake is still a fitting song to refer to. Having the opportunity to build it up has surely been a sweet surprise, and it certainly has enough going for it to make a grown man cry.


TRUCK SPECS

OWNER

Chad Cooper
1961 Chevy C10
Magnolia, TX
No Regrets

ENGINE/DRIVETRAIN

  • Shop: Nelson Racing, Chatsworth, CA
  • 2021 GM LS7 V-8
  • Twin turbo
  • Stage 6 4L85E 4-speed auto transmission
  • QA1 carbon fiber drive shaft

CHASSIS/SUSPENSION

  • Shop: Acme Chassis Factory, South Houston, TX
  • Full-custom frame
  • Air Lift air management system
  • FLO air tanks
  • Two Viair 485 compressors
  • Ford 9-inch rearend

WHEELS, TIRES & BRAKES

  • 24-inch Raceline Bandit wheels
  • Wilwood braking components

EXTERIOR & PAINT

  • Shop: Bob Grant @ Grant Fab, Oroville, CA
  • Custom bodywork by Grant Fab
  • Modified front bumper to fit body
  • Custom rear roll pan
  • Shaved cowl
  • 2-inch chop top
  • Custom sheetmetal bed, aluminum floor by Rocky Seaman and Daniel Dotlow @ All N 1 Autoworks, Conroe, TX
  • Custom motorized floor section
  • 1966 Ford F100 taillights
  • Bare metal covered with Orion Automotive Finishes satin clear
  • Assorted parts from Auto Metal Direct (AMD)

INTERIOR

  • Snowden custom bench seat
  • Custom metal dash by All N 1 Autoworks
  • Vintage Air A/C and heat
  • Ididit column
  • Painless wiring harness and electrical by Bill Flynn

 

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