The Cutting of a True Citrus Classic
You usually only get one shot at something great, so when it comes along, grab it! In the case of this rather rare ’76 GMC Sierra, Ronnie Wetch got not one, but two chances at it. He sold it the first time he owned it, but more about that later …
Now, for those not in the know, this truck, especially in factory condition, is important because it’s a limited package GMC pickup known as the Impact edition. These were first released to the public in 1976, which was an exciting time because buyers were able to custom order their truck with multiple wheelbase options, as well as interior, wheel and other premium appearance packages to signify it being an Impact model. Long story short, these don’t come up for sale very often, so if you happen to see one available, it wouldn’t be a bad cision to snatch it up if the price isn’t too wild.
Now, if you don’t recognize the name Ronnie Wetch, you’d more than likely recognize his voice, as he is the host of the C10 Talk podcast. Yep, that guy. So one day, a buddy of his sends him a screenshot of this very truck for sale on Craigslist in Great Falls, Montana. Knowing exactly what the truck was and being familiar with the area since he grew up in Big Sky Country, Ronnie reached out to the seller of the truck, who happened to be its second owner and has had it since 1990. A deal was struck, and a plan was put in place to organize a rendezvous that what would soon become one of Ronnie’s greatest and most memorable road trips to date.
“My plan was to go grab a buddy or two, buy the truck then drive truck back home to Arizona,” Ronnie says. “I pitched the idea to two friends who I thought might make the journey with me: Kyle Oxberger (@metaloxfab) and Kevin Stickel (@digitalc10). I figured one out of the two would bite, but both ended up confirming to join me. Yep, three full-grown men would be sharing the bench seat for the ride back home.”
Ronnie and Kyle caught a flight to Montana, and Kevin rented a car and drove five hours south from Calgary, Alberta, to meet them there. Together they would somehow make the most of the drive back to Arizona.
The guys gambled on the truck actually making it to Arizona, but it ran great. The only major hiccup the guys hit along the way was getting stuck in some crazy traffic since they stopped in Idaho Falls, Idaho, (along with what seemed like the entire state) to watch the solar eclipse of 2017. The logjam to leave put them about 10 hours behind schedule, but it was nothing a case of 5 Hour Energy drinks couldn’t fix.
Once back home, Ronnie had started calling his new truck Sunkist for obvious reasons and really didn’t do a whole lot to it right away since he was already neck deep into another project. The truck was a longbed, and he wasn’t sure if he should have Kyle of MetalOx shorten it, since that just so happens to be his specialty. As a publicity stunt while showing the truck at Dino’s Git Down 2018, Ronnie allowed people to vote for what he should do—keep the truck as a longbed with the name Sunkist or chop the bed down and call it Orange Slice. Both sides made their voices known, and Ronnie ultimately made a decision. He did neither and sold the truck instead. Yeah, this part threw us off, too.
“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” Ronnie admits. “I put the truck up for sale, and I got an offer for it. It was pretty good money for a longbed GMC truck with Impact striping on it.”
The money wasn’t spent so willy-nilly, as Ronnie genuinely needed the capital to invest into yet another truck project that he had cooking.
“I truly believe that Kevin and Kyle, my two friends who made the trip out to get Sunkist, were yelling at me under their breath when they heard the news,” Ronnie says.
That we truly believe, as it was only two days later when Kevin released the rendering he had been working on for the truck. “F**K!” was the only response Ronnie could muster up. A wave of seller’s remorse immediately slapped him square in the face. Now, someone else of note also saw the rendering—the truck’s new owner Aaron Miller. Needless to say, he fell in love with the image and direction Kevin went with the truck and wanted to follow it as closely as possible.
Ronnie and Aaron started talking, and the two made a pact of sorts. Aaron was the truck’s outright new owner, there was no doubt about that, but Ronnie offered to try to pull some strings, get some sponsorships behind the build and get his old buddy Kyle of MetalOx to go ahead with the shortbed conversion. Aaron went for it, and Ronnie was still able to go through the motions of building Orange Slice, but for someone else.
“My vision was to take all the radness that GM had given us, but make it a tad bit radder,” Ronnie says with much excitement. “I wanted to make the truck look like it was a hotrod truck some guy bought in 1976, and this is how it looked in ’78 with some modern flare.”
Aaron gave him the go-ahead on that pitch, and away things went. The bed was quickly shortened up, and Ronnie ordered a whole bunch of suspension parts from RideTech.
“I wanted a killer stance yet somewhat racked, and with a ride quality that made you want to drive this beast,” Ronnie says. “RideTech’s coilover kit would work perfect for this. Getting rid of the rear leaf springs for a modern four-link also played a big part in achieving this.”
Selecting a set of wheels is a sacred event, especially when attempting to preserve a vintage aesthetic.
“I had some old school 15-inch mags on the truck before it got chopped, so I knew a set of larger diameter US Mags Indy Concave wheels would look great on it since they shared a similar vibe,” Ronnie says. “You can have a great paint scheme, a killer stance, but screw it all up with the wrong set of wheels.”
With some other modifications in the way of Pro Performance brake upgrades, some performance add-ons to give the engine a true ’70s rumble and a complete interior overhaul featuring new upholstery and sound system, Orange Slice had become plump with a ton of juicy upgrades. Now, after seeing how the truck turned out firsthand, Ronnie tried to see if there was any window of opportunity to buy the truck back from Aaron. After a few denied attempts, Aaron did release the truck back into Ronnie’s ownership just as 2020 began. The circumstances to strike another deal just happened to make sense to the both of them at that time.
“I had started adding more personal things to the truck after the buy back,” Ronnie says. “I had plans to take it on the Hot Rod Power Tour, but we all know how this year has turned out, which just sucks. I think lots of people would’ve got a kick out of this truck.
“Even though we got sidelined this year, I’d still like to give a huge thanks to my wife Autumn, my three kids, and friends far and near who have helped or encouraged me along the way,” Ronnie says. “There simply isn’t enough space to thank you all but you know who you are.”