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Finders Keepers

Taken in on Trade, this Cool Custom C-10 Is a Keeper!

For most enthusiasts, creating a custom truck is a special event, something that might only happen a few times during a lifetime. Building one of your own often takes years to complete but it’s generally followed by years of enjoyment. When you’re in the automotive repair and restoration business however, sometimes good things happen with surprising regularity. John Orbe owns Laidback Garage and Customs in Middleburg, Florida specializing in auto repair and restoration. John builds his own custom rods, estimating that he’s created more than 120 vehicles in the last 25 years. 

Every now and then however, when he finds a high quality vehicle, he uses a different approach. “I’m picky about what I take in on trade,” he told us. But the build quality of this 1969 Chevrolet C-10 Stepside easily passed his test and was part of a deal for one of his hot rods. Details about the original builder were lost somewhere along the way so John did his own inspections, verifying that the engineering was as solid as the truck’s distinctive styling. 

A quick look underneath disclosed the stock chassis had been outfitted with a full air ride suspension, using factory upper and lower control arms up front along with a four-link holding a Ride Tech 10-bolt rear. The 3.73 gears were the right blend of performance and economy. The truck was fitted with a combination of coil springs and air bags to stabilize the ride while four-wheel disc brakes ensured modern stopping power. The C-10 rolls on 20-inch Billet Specialties rims with Falken ZR20  rubber. Once he determined that the truck had a firm foundation, those eye-candy cosmetics were next on the list. 

The Lexus New Bronze base coat/clear coat paint gets your attention first as you begin to examine the long list of modifications. Up front, the grille is accented with billet inserts creating a sleek collection of horizontal lines that emphasize the width of the truck. A steel 2-inch cowl induction hood hints at the aggressive power plant underneath and new chrome bumpers were added front and rear. One of the most extreme mods was the 4-inch top chop that significantly improves the truck’s profile. The original builder followed up by eliminating the drip rails, then suiciding the doors. Moving to the rear, the smooth tailgate was fitted with an oversized Chevrolet Bowtie, subtle taillights were added to the widened Stepside rear fenders, and the Oak planks in the bed were tinted with a shade to match the bronze exterior. 

Motive power was next on the list. Since John’s never been a fan of anemic power plants, you can imagine his pleasant surprise when he read the Dyno sheet that came with the 383 Stroker in the truck. When you mash the Mr. Hyde pedal, the weapons grade power plant puts an impressive 540 tire-frying, drive shaft-warping horsepower at your disposal, thanks to the upgraded rotating assemblies, Holley Ram Jet fuel injection, Edelbrock aluminum heads, ceramic headers, and free-flowing twin pipes. The truck’s tail-wagging power is held in check only by the driver’s self-preservation instincts! As much fun on the autocross as the Interstate, the C-10 uses an upgraded 700R4 to multiply the power.  

The final inspection effort moved inside, noting that the color-matched interior was fitted with a pair of plush bucket seats and center armrest, stitched in harmonizing shades of bronze suede and leather. Door panels, carpet, and the upholstered panel behind the seats used variations of the same shades. The painted-to-match dash was smoothed and then outfitted with a comprehensive collection of Haneline white-face, analog gauges, monitoring the under hood activity as well as the air suspension. An ididit column holds a Billet Specialties wheel and Vintage Air keeps the occupants cool with multiple chrome vents in the dash. The stereo was another wonderful surprise. Although kidney-messaging bass and rave dance floor levels were not the goal, John does enjoy crystal clear sounds and certainly wanted more than wimpy factory highs and anemic bass. Touch the button and the JVC KD-DV4200 multimedia DVD/CD receiver fills the cab with music, sending signal to a speaker mix that includes JVC 6.5-inch component sets in the kick panels, another pair behind the seats, and a final pair of JVC 8-inch mid bass speakers that add impact and realism. Concert hall sounds make the Chevy a perfect road trip ride.

As you can imagine, with an impressive inventory of upgrades like this, John had no hesitation about taking this cool custom classic in on trade. Although he loves creating his own, he was thrilled with the opportunity to find such a high quality build to add to his collection. “When you see something as nice as this one, you can’t pass it up,” he says with a smile. It’s certain that this will be a truck he can enjoy for years to come.



John Orbe  Middleburg, Florida
1969 Chevrolet C-10 Stepside

383 Stroker V-8
Holley Ram Jet fuel injection
Cold air intake and K&N filter
Edelbrock aluminum heads
Custom headers.
Ceramic coated exhaust
Smooth firewall
Custom inner fender panels
Polished brake booster
Matt black valve covers
700R4 transmission.

Reinforced frame with a C-Notch
Factory upper and lower control arms upfront
4-link and Ride Tech 10-bolt rear with 3.73 gears.
Full air ride suspension
Four-wheel disc brakes 

Billet Specialties 20-inch wheels
Falken FK452  255-35-ZR20 rubber. 

C-10 body chopped 4 inches
Drip rails eliminated
Suicide doors with push buttons in the grille
Steel 2-inch cowl induction hood
Widened rear Stepside fenders
Subtle, faired-in  LED taillights
Custom chrome bumpers front and rear
Chevy Bowtie added to the tailgate, equipped with inside latches
Billet inserts in the grille
Custom bed with Oak planks and stainless steel strips
Lexus New Bronze base coat/clear coat paint

Bucket seats in bronze suede and leather
Smooth dashboard
Haneline white face, analog gauges
ididit column
Billet Specialties wheel
Vintage Air
JVC KD-DV4200  multimedia DVD/CD receiver
JVC 6.5-inch component sets in the kick panels and behind  the seats
JVC 8-inch mid bass speakers behind the seats.