There’s Something Special about this Truck. We Just Can’t Put Our … uh, Foot on It!
You may have seen that “No Step” warning sign posted on vintage street rods where the owner is discouraging you from standing on his carefully painted running boards. Boots on pristine paint never result in a good outcome.
Carl Stuart, owner of this ’68 Chevrolet C10, took an entirely different approach to the “No Step” issue, and we’ll tell you more about that in a moment. Carl is in the business of selling paint and body shop supplies in Summerfield, Florida, and has literally restored hundreds of vehicles during his 54 years of involvement in the sport. It’s a great combination since he works with car guys during the day and works on his custom truck after hours, making it the best of both worlds.
He purchased this truck in 2006 and started the customizing process in earnest back in 2012. His goal was simply to create a nice driving vehicle with a bagged suspension. Obviously, that initial goal has been met and then some! Even though the list of mods has clearly exceeded the original conservative plan, the beautifully constructed truck is still a daily driver with Carl using it regularly to haul supplies for the business while enjoying the fact that, with a quick wash, it’s equally at home on the show circuit.
Since airbags were part of the initial plan, chassis work began with boxing the ’68 frame, and grafting on a newer ’81 Chevrolet C10 front clip with disc brakes and power steering. The rear is a 12-bolt Detroit locker with 3.73 gears, held in place by a two-link rear suspension and stabilized with a Watts linkage. Rear drum brakes will soon be replaced with discs to match the front. Bags on all four corners create altitude that’s adjustable at the touch of a finger, thanks to a complete AccuAir system, compressor, reserve tank and quarter-inch lines. The lowered silhouette was not designed to tackle the Rubicon but it’s great on the interstate. Once it was low, making the truck quick was the next priority.
Under the hood is a 355ci Chevrolet V-8 coupled to a built 700R4 transmission. Carl coaxed out some extra horsepower beginning with the high flow numbers from a set of ported and polished Corvette 202 heads followed by a 292 lift cam and a Holly 670 carb. Helping the engine breathe more efficiently, stainless steel headers and dual exhaust minimize back pressure while producing a feral growl from pipes that exit in front of the rear wheels. He estimates the motor cranks out a healthy 425 hp.
You will notice that the truck has a distinctive look, but you may not be able to put your finger on what makes it so different. It’s probably because this Stepside has no steps! The rear fenders have been carefully modified, lengthened from front to rear, and then extended down to emphasize the lower body lines. It was an elaborate process that used door skins to extend the style lines and cover over the step from the Stepside. Carl calls it the “Inside Stepside” and put the interior space to good use, using the now hidden step as a platform for the battery on the passenger side and the compressor for the air suspension on the driver’s side.
Bodywork continued with those four unique taillights from a ’38 Ford Deluxe, turned upside down and frenched in. The tailgate is also unique with Carl contacting Mar-K Manufacturing in Oklahoma, having them punch louvers in the shape of a Bow Tie. Adding a smooth inner skin to the louvered outer skin, Carl created the new tailgate, slipping a pair of 3-foot-long LEDs inside. Now the Bow Tie louvers light up when he hits the brakes.
Seat belt buckles replace the old-fashioned latches. The cherry wood bed floor is in two pieces, with the forward portion opening for access to the trans cooler and reserve tank. The rear section opens to show the fuel cell and filler cap as well as the two-link suspension with Watts linkage.
Moving forward, the final touch up front was the pair of “Angel Eyes” headlights, chrome grille, custom front pan with the bumper removed and the 2-inch cowl induction hood that hints at the aggressive power plant underneath. Carl hand-formed that vintage-style sun visor from fiberglass and, keeping the final additions in the GM family, grafted on a set of ’57 Chevy door handles.
Once the exterior body mods were complete, it was time to move inside. Custom power seats from a ’08 Buick LaCrosse pamper the driver and passenger, stitched in light gray leather and featuring a center armrest. The dash sports a set of gauges from Classic Instruments and the Grant wheel spins on an Ididit column. Controls for the air suspension are in the center, and Carl’s son Shaun created the air conditioning unit for the truck, buying separate components and adapting them to fit. The Sony head unit uses a combination of Xplod 6.5-inch component sets and 6x9s mounted in the lower portion of the door panels.
Carl’s been painting since he was 16 years old and it’s always been the best part of every build, since it means the job is nearly complete. He accomplished the distinctive layout himself with the top color on the Chevy a Prowler Orange modified with candy and rainbow flakes. The center stripe is a champagne BMW color and the bottom shade of Black Cherry has been highlighted with gold pearl. Subtle stripes on the hood and graphics on the side make for a stunning combination. “Sweet Cherry” is the name of the truck and the glove box mural mimics the paint job, showing the image of a pair of black cherries teamed up with a bright Florida (naturally!) orange. Jason at Airbrush This is a customer of Carl’s and created the design.
The final step was outfitting the truck with wheels, choosing 20×9 Panther rims wrapped in Toyo rubber. Whether he’s driving the truck to work or heading to a show, Carl’s custom Chevy gets the job done in comfort and style. Carl sends special thanks to his son Shaun, and grandsons Austin, Matt and Dave.
’68 Chevy C10
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Engine work by Affordable Auto Air and Care
Chevy 350 V-8, bored to 355ci, 8:5:1 compression
Summit 492 cam
1.5 ratio roller rockers
Chevy 202 Camel Hump heads
Holley 670 Street Dominator carb
Pertronix HEI ignition
Flowtech ceramic long tube headers
700R4 3-speed auto with overdrive
2500 stall speed by Larry Hart Transmission of Tampa, Florida
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
Built by owner
Boxed ’68 frame rails
’81 Chevrolet C10 front clip
BellTech 2.5-inch drop spindles and C-notch rear
12-bolt Detroit locker with 3.73 gears
2-link rear with KP Components Watts linkage
AccuAir air system with quarter-inch lines
Monroe shocks front and rear
WHEELS & TIRES
Panther 20×9 rims
TOYO Proxes ST 245/45R20 front and 295/45R20 rear
EXTERIOR & PAINT
Octane “Angel Eyes” headlights
custom bumperless front and rear with custom pans
2-inch Good Mark cowl induction hood
owner-built sun visor
’57 Chevy door handles
custom rear fenders that modified the step
four ’38 Ford upside down taillights
louvered Bow Tie tailgate with LEDs and seat belt buckle latche
two-piece cherry wood bed floor
NPD tinted glass
custom mixed Black Cherry and Prowler Orange paint by owner
INTERIOR & STEREO
’08 Buick LaCrosse power seats
air suspension controls mounted in the center of the dashboard
Sony stereo with 6×9 and 5-inch Xplod door speakers