On the surface, the truck scene seems like a fun and energetic place to be for a perfectly good reason: it is. But sometimes, from the outside, getting into that scene can seem like an insurmountable task. How do you build a cool ride and then get it into a magazine? If you’ve never turned a wrench before or are getting your start later in life, then you might be at a loss about where to begin.

That’s more or less the spot that Shane Rodriguez was in. As a long-time reader of Street Trucks, he has impeccable taste in trucks, but living in Carlsbad, New Mexico, he didn’t have any personal connections in the scene. One day, he picked up an issue that showcased the famous Dino Battilana’s Git Down, an event that has become a mecca of Chevy trucks that takes place right before the Goodguys’ show in Scottsdale, Arizona, every fall. It looked like a lot of fun, so he decided to hit the road and head to Arizona for the following year’s event. It lived up to the hype, so he started asking around about how to go about building a truck of his own. After getting a bunch of recommendations, he decided to go for it with the objective being to build the baddest square-body C-10 around.

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It was a lofty goal, and to execute it, he would need to find a team of builders that could make the magic happen. His choice boiled down to two of the best combos in the Phoenix area: Jeremy Rice from Tre 5 Customs (a frequent contributor to this fine publication) and Frank Rechlin from Ikandy Paintworks. Between these two and their respective teams, Shane had a solid foundation to build the ’80 C-10 that would become known as El Primo.

It started with Jeremy and Hector, the guys over at Tre 5 Customs. Everything they changed in the truck was done with the intent of making it the best. That’s why the engine is a GM LS3 from Turnkey Engine Supply that puts out 440 hp at the wheels. Said engine is covered in custom sheet metal work done by Hubcaps Hot Rod design, which not only makes the engine bay look super clean but also gives it that extra show-quality touch. This high level of detail is why the chassis runs components from Porterbuilt, Baer and CPP, which work together to get the truck on the ground. Oh, and the wheels? They’re polished Intro Gallops, in 22-inch form, and the fact that half of them are tucked into the fenderwells adds an extra level of awesome.

It was a lofty goal, and to execute it, he would need to find a team of builders that could make the magic happen.

None of the custom work done to the truck would’ve mattered if the end result was covered with a crappy paint job, and to ensure that they would have nothing but the best they went to Frank at Ikandy Paintworks. Throughout the years, Frank’s work has been featured in print multiple times, making a few covers in the process. There was no better guy to lay down the color on this project, so that’s where Shane went.

Frank and his team—Jackie, Chris and Jim—got to work finishing what Tre 5 had begun. Things like the smoothed bedrails, the 1979 hood and the step-rolled inner bed metal were all made laser straight (not an easy task on a truck that rolled off the line in the ’80s). It required hour upon hour of work, but it wasn’t just about being good enough, it was about becoming the best. In the end, the truck was gapped, smoothed and perfected enough to lay down a traditional two-tone paint job in copper metallic and bone white. It’s something the factory might’ve done had they possessed the technology 30 years ago. It’s also a perfect match for the truck as a whole.

“Shane did end up taking the truck to the Git Down, though, and it sat right up front, where everyone could take in its beauty.”

As for the interior, that too had high standards, so the materials used are the best. High-end leather and the same carpet that you’d find in a Bentley cover everything, including the custom door panels, to bring things up to more modern levels. Definitive Audio did the stereo, which is simple and clean, but still packs a punch. A pair of subs and an amp flow smoothly into the rear of the cab, and the various billet accessories dotted across the inside of the truck add some polish, but not so much as to be gaudy. It’s clean, simple and contains nothing but the best.

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The funny thing is, at the end of it all, the most important thing to Shane was to get back to the Git Down and show off his truck to all of his new friends. Displaying at the SEMA Show—one of the biggest honors that a truck can receive—wasn’t even a consideration. But when Jeremy brought it up, and they got the offer, it was just another feather in the team’s cap.

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Shane did end up taking the truck to the Git Down, though, and it sat right up front, where everyone could take in its beauty. It garnered a ton of attention, and even in a sea of killer trucks, it was one of the most talked about of the night. The build was a job well done and it’s getting the recognition it deserves.

 

Truck Specs

Owner:

Shane Rodriguez

1980 Chevrolet C-10

Carlsbad, NM

Engine:

  • Chevrolet LS3 372-ci V-8 built by Turnkey Engine Supply in Oceanside, CA
  • 440 hp at the wheels, 416 ft-lbs of torque
  • Nodular iron crankshaft
  • COMP Cams Hot Cam
  • Mahle hypereutectic aluminum pistons
  • Forged powdered metal rods
  • Cast aluminum heads
  • 2.160-inch hollow-stem intake valves, 1.590-inch exhaust valves
  • 5/16×7.400-inch pushrods
  • 1.7:1 rockers
  • COMP Cams lifters and springs
  • Edelbrock high-performance aluminum water pump
  • 140-amp one-wire alternator
  • Griffin radiator
  • Dual electric cooling fans
  • Porterbuilt motor mounts
  • LS3 composite intake manifold
  • K&N air filter, custom intake tube
  • Drive-by-wire throttle body
  • Ceramic-coated Sanderson headers
  • Custom mandrel-bent, ceramic-coated, 3-inch exhaust by Tre 5 Customs
  • Black Widow Pro-Venom mufflers
  • Sheet metal valve covers by Hubcaps Hot Rod Design
  • Turnkey Engine Supply wiring
  • All American Billet polished 6061-T6 pulleys
  • All American Billet LS front drive system
  • All American Billet coolant and power steering reservoirs
  • Dual Kinetik batteries
  • 4L65-E four-speed automatic transmission built by Turnkey Engine Supply
  • 2400-rpm stall speed
  • Five-pinion gear sets
  • Heat-treated stator shaft splines
  • Induction-hardened turbine shaft
  • Seven-plate clutch
  • Shot-peened output shaft
  • Revised valve body calibration
  • Custom-built steel driveshaft
  • Custom-built aluminum gas tank

Suspension:

  • Performed by Jeremy and Hector at Tre 5 Customs
  • Porterbuilt Dropmember
  • Porterbuilt control arms
  • Porterbuilt LS engine mounts
  • Rack-and-pinion steering
  • CPP modular drop spindles
  • Air Lift Dominators
  • Porterbuilt rear trailing arm setup
  • Watts link
  • Inboard RideTech airbags rear
  • RideTech HQ series rear shocks
  • Baer Remaster master cylinder
  • 7-inch chrome dual-diaphragm brake booster
  • Baer six-piston, 14-inch rotor front and rear brakes
  • Currie Enterprises 9-inch rearend
  • Eaton Detroit Trutrac
  • 31-spline Currie axles
  • 3:73 gear ratio

Wheels & Tires:

  • 22×8.5 and 22×12-inch Intro Gallop
  • 265/35R22 and 335/25R22 Pirelli tires

Body & Paint:

  • Performed by Frank, Jackie, Chris and Jim at Ikandy Paintworks
  • Jeremy and Hector at Tre 5 Customs
  • Fashion Paint Copper Metallic over a red/orange base
  • Fashion Paint Bone White middle stripe
  • Automotive HS50 clearcoat
  • Custom engine bay sheet metal work by Hubcaps Hot Rod Designs
  • Defender Pro spray-on bedliner under the bed and cab
  • LMC stock grille replacement for 1979 C-10
  • Chromed stock bumper
  • Gas filler built into the gas tank
  • Battery jumper terminals built into the factory gas door
  • New windows from Select Glass
  • Custom sheet metal inner bed with step-rolled sides to match the under-hood panels
  • Custom-built bed floor with electric actuated bed wood insert that lifts to show off the rear chassis
  • LED replacement taillights and headlights

Interior & Stereo:

  • Definitive Audio and Ceballos Customs upholstery
  • Leather upholstery
  • Bentley carpet
  • Molded headliner with LED dome light
  • Custom-padded seats on factory frame
  • Dakota Digital direct-fit VHX gauges
  • LMC replacement dash pad
  • Intro steering wheel
  • All American Billet interior door handles
  • Summit switches
  • Vintage Air Gen IV air conditioning
  • Custom door panels, kick panels and instrument cluster
  • Rockford Fosgate head unit and wiring
  • Rockford Fosgate components in the doors and kick panels
  • Rockford Fosgate 10-inch shallow-mount subwoofers
  • Rockford Fosgate five-channel amplifier

Special Thanks From Owner: “Jeremy and Hector at Tre 5 Customs; Frank, Jackie, Chris and Jim at Ikandy Paintworks; Steve at Definitive Audio; Frank at Ceballos; Jason, Charles and Nick at Pro Dyno; Derek and Reno at AccuAir; Fashion Paint; Royal Purple; Dakota Digital; Kleinn for having me at SEMA; all of the other companies that helped out with parts for the truck, and especially to all of my friends and family for all of the roles they played in helping me with the build.”

 

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the date 2016 print issue of Street Trucks.