Gauge Customs Family Hauler
Family—‘ohana in Hawaiian—is something we can all relate to in one way or another. Many of us are fortunate enough to have those special people who believed in us even when the rest of the world had turned their backs. Many of us also have that crazy grandpa or uncle who wouldn’t hesitate to grab the chainsaw and help you cut a rotted old GMC out of a field in the middle of nowhere Alabama.
Matt Barnes has his ‘ohana, and thus begins their story.
Matt and Caitlan Barnes own Gauge Customs in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s a family business and custom automotive paint shop that has turned out some slick restorations for clients all over the country. But as the saying goes, “The shoemaker’s daughter goes barefoot.”
They’ve built many impressive rides for customers, but it was finally time to turn their attention to a family hauler suitable of a custom shop owner—one that’s capable of hauling parts, family, and some major @$$ when necessary. The Barnes family has always been hotrod and muscle car fanatics with big horsepower flowing through the veins of several generations on both sides of the tree. So, when a shop truck build was talked about, Caitlan assured Matt that whatever truck they put their spin on would have to pack a punch.
Matt and Caitlan only saw beauty—perfect patina beauty! With chainsaw, grinder and chisels, they went
to work separating what decades of Mother Nature had claimed of said truck. They were told if they could cut it out, they could keep it, and they did just that.
The hunt was on for the perfect platform. Low and behold, a few hours away left rotting in a field was an original 1964 GMC Custom Cab V-6. Some say it’s a field find or barn find, but this was the literal definition! A tree had sprouted between the bumper and core support. Over the years, it made its way betwixt the bumper, front end, hood, and the like—so much so that whoever left it in the field had long since abandoned it and given up on whatever resto dreams they once had for this poor ’64.
But Matt and Caitlan only saw beauty—perfect patina beauty! With chainsaw, grinder and chisels, they went to work separating what decades of Mother Nature had claimed of said truck. They were told if they could cut it out, they could keep it, and they did just that. Once free from the Jumanji-jungle entanglement, it was back to the lab of Gauge Customs. Work over the next few years would bring this field find back to life.
Aside from its sun-aged, perfect patina, the main theme for this bad boy would be a classic survivor—plus a few horses! The Barnes family happened to have the perfect 592 Big Block to take this GMC over the top to the level they had envisioned from day one. The race engine was an engine built from scratch for a family friend’s race boat, a complete custom build that hit 985 hp on the engine dyno. Unfortunately, before it ever saw its way into the boat, the family member passed away suddenly. Erin Lugo donated the engine knowing that her husband would want nothing more than to see it finished in this build and stay a part of the family—the ‘ohana.
That’s why Matt named this GMC “‘Ohana” for family, as family and friends played a major role in every square inch of bringing this beauty to life. ‘Ohana sports a solid foundation from Chopping Block with both front and rear setups, a complete Air Lift Performance and FLO Airride air setup, custom of course, and a ton of custom sheetmetal to bring the bed and engine bay to life and show off the custom components and giant big block. But another super neat touch that also sets this build apart from the sea of C10s out there are the TRUE gold Daytons—a risk that Matt Barnes took by tracking down some original 24kt gold D’s (date stamped 1999) and wrapping them with OG Vouge tires to complete the West Coast twist that truly sets ‘Ohana apart.
The interior maintains the same classic yet custom vibe. With some original GM factory material that Caitlan tracked down, Billet Speciatlies goodies and some killer one-off custom designed Classic Instruments gauges—you can tell that even though it looks simple and clean, a ton of effort and thought went into every square inch of this classic build. Caitlan also put her own custom touches on the wood bedfloor by burning and staining the wood herself while Matt and William handled the rest of the custom fab and paint duties. All in all, ‘Ohana came together as an amazing testament of what family means—blood or not. Built in their spare time, after hours and on weekends (since customer cars always come first as a shop owner) Matt and Caitlan are extremely happy to finally have a full custom family hauler of their own. And they truly deserve all of this and so much more!
Matt & Caitlan Barnes
1964 GMC Custom Cab
CPP modular spindles, disc brakes, booster
Beltech drop shocks
Chopping Block front IFS with CB adjustable control arms
Chassis smoothed and painted by owner (Teal and Gunmetal gray)
Slam Specialties SS6
Full Chopping Block backhalf and rear setup
Air Lift Performance 3P air management from Twisted Images
Custom painted FLO Airride billet air tanks
Custom gold leafed FLO comps
Custom fittings and parts from Buddies’ Garage
Thorbros custom FLO billet mounts and filters
12-bolt Mosier rearend w/ posi
Wheel & Tires
17×8 Original Gold Daytons 100spoke 24kt (1999 stamp)
592 Big Block Chevy/985 hp on engine dyno
Built turbo 400 trans
Engine built for a family friend’s raceboat, who passed away and family donated the engine to see it finished in this build (thanks Erin Lugo, the legacy lives on!)
Derale transcooler w/ electric fan custom mounted in bed
Edelbrock heads and intake
Custom Diamond pistons
Full Comp Cams roller setup
Full ARP hardware inside and out
Billet Specialties front runner
Holley 1050 double pump carb
MSD Pro distributor and ignition
A/N and braided throughout for fuel and air
Custom Griffin Alumi
Custom two-piece driveshaft by Franky at Rocket City Off-road
Full American Autowire harnesses
Dual Optima blue top batteries
Exterior & Paint
Factory patina (cut down longbed to carefully preserve factory patina)
Complete original trim, emblems, trim, tails and all
Custom sheetmetal bed and engine bay by William Putn
Custom teal “flip-flop ‘Ohana” Axalta paint by owner (Matt Barnes)
Custom pinstriping from Kreation’s by Stevo
Custom wood bedfloor built by Caitlan and family friend (cut, routered, burnt, stained and sealed)
Switch Suspension hood hinges
Interior & Sound
Classic Instruments custom gauges using teal accent and mother of pearl inlays
Ididit steering column
Billet Specialties steering wheel, door handles, pedals, cranks and mounts
Full ARP hardware inside and out
Hunted down factory original GM teal cloth and rebuilt seat, doors, etc., for factory yet custom look and finish
Huntsville Auto Upholstery wrapped and completed interior
No music, the sound of the 592 is music enough