Evolution is in our nature. For those who aspire to dream bigger, there are always new opportunities. All it takes to discover them is the drive to push forward toward the boundaries that lie ahead, and then once you spot them, leap right over them and keep going. This type of growth doesn’t necessarily require us to stray too far from our current path. It does, however, demand a determined tread, head held up, eyes focused forward.
This type of rationalization makes sense to guys like Larry Ashley. When he took on the marketing and R&D role at TMI Products, a leading automotive interior manufacturer in Corona, California, he not only recognized how its current assets could be improved upon, he envisioned applying the same core operation to a completely new vehicle segment. What he saw was a need to cater to one of the hottest, quickest-growing corners in today’s automotive aftermarket. With a stronghold in classic performance Chevy and Ford cars, as well as VW Beetles and busses, there was an obvious gap missing from TMI’s product offerings.
The classic truck crowd is a group that combs the marketplace for the highest quality goods to take their builds to other dimensions, so of course, the idea to bridge the gap between these customizers and TMI was a promising endeavor.
“Back at the 2014 SEMA show, I decided if TMI was going to take a chance in the truck market, we were going to need to go big—I mean really big,” Larry says about the initial stages of the company’s latest venture. The numbers of classic trucks being built for SEMA is increasing every year, and that figure is exponentially larger for older trucks that have been resurrected and are back whipping around towns across the country. “Once the show was over, I went on a quest to find the right trucks to fill our future booth,” Larry goes on to say. “The first one that we build would have to be what I call a super show truck—a project that we could build to keep up with and compete with all the trucks that inspired us at SEMA.”
So the hunt began to find a fitting classic pickup the guys at TMI could rip into as a team. Larry didn’t use too many filters during his search, but he was mainly looking for a Chevy in decent starting condition. After combing through numerous eBay listings, chasing down leads and sorting through social media posts, he finally landed on a promising ad.
“One afternoon, I came across a Craigslist listing [for] a currently under-construction ’73 C-10,” Larry says. “Now, I had already looked at hundreds of other ads at this point, so I really didn’t expect a whole lot from it … I sent the owner of the truck a text to see if he still had it for sale, and if he did I just wanted to know how far along the truck was in the build process and what had been done to it.” This is when truck-buying can take a turn for the worse. With so many renegade customizers and so-called builders out there, it’s better to ask a hundred questions in order get as much info as possible to avoid any future mishaps after the money is spent. “After going back and forth with the guy, he asked me if my name was Larry Ashley, the marketing guy at APC from back in the day. I didn’t know how this guy knew that about me, but when I confirmed his question, he told me he was Josh from Eibach. That name might not sound familiar to anyone else, but back in the day when I was at APC, we had collaborated on a couple of project cars together. I took this as a sign that I could trust the answers to my questions …”
What Larry found out about the truck is that it was his old friend’s long-time personal project, and he was looking to get out of it. That’s a familiar story with these older trucks. Guys can hit a monetary or stamina wall, which prompts them to sell. It happens. What’s unusual is that a project truck like this is currently in the hands of a well-respected name in the scene. “Josh told me that his C-10 was currently being worked on by Max Fish at Bio Kustumz. Max was working on the body and frame mods off and on for him, but a good deal of the work had already been completed. Josh and I went round and round on the price until we landed on the magic number. From there, it was game on.”
Max had been setting up the Fat Man Fabrication front air ride system, as well as fabricating a fully custom 4-link for the rear, while also performing a body drop for a much more aggressive stance. Some very trick bodywork had also been completed, and the keen eye will notice this when looking at the bedsides and molded tailgate. The rain gutters were shaved and the door bottoms were rounded at the lower corners. It really is the subtle differences that set these trucks apart from each other, and TMI’s latest acquisition was well on its way to making its mark in the custom circuit. Larry recruited Joel from JH Restorations to pick up the truck from Max and send the body to Johnny’s Auto Color and Body Werx to finish prep and paint. Then Joel would take the chassis back to his place to dial things in and get the engine performing well and looking even better. Once the final paint stage was complete, Joel completed the final assembly, save for the interior, which was solely TMI’s territory.
To make Larry’s vision a complete success, the C-10’s cab really needed to be a knockout. Not that this would be a problem for the guys at TMI since this is completely their element, but this portion of the build was the most crucial. VXR bucket seats and a waterfall center console were selected to serve as the truck’s seating feature. A combination of charcoal-colored leather and suede blended with burgundy contrast stitching and grommet detailing wrap the seats. Matching door panels and steering wheel, as well as TMI’s premium carpet, were also thrown into the mix to create a luxurious interior space fit for the most critical custom aficionado. With the addition of Dakota Digital gauges and color-matched details, it’s safe to say that the confines of the cabin came out just as good, if not better, than expected.
Larry wasn’t orchestrating this whole project just to say that his crew could get the job done. No, these guys had plans to take their already successful business beyond the customer base they had established themselves with and venture into new territory. The game plan would remain the same, but the journey itself would be the real adventure. “Back at SEMA two years ago when I first thought that we should tap into the classic truck sector, I was dead set on returning to the show the following year with a truck of our own to represent our new product launch. We met our own deadline with seven days to spare with this C-10 build. 2015 was a trying year for us, but we pulled through and came out on top.”
1973 Chevy C-10
Shop: JH Restorations & Customs
327-ci GM V-8
Genie floor-mount shifter
Finned intake cover
Custom dual exhaust
Currie Enterprises 9-inch rearend
Painless Performance wiring products
Eddie Motorsports serpentine pulley system
Shop: Bio Kustomz
Fat Man Fabrications front end and spindles
Ridetech ’bags, controller and compressor
Custom Bio Kustomz 4-link
Wilwood brakes and master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
20×8 and 20×10 American Racing VF485 wheels
255/35/20 and 285/40/22 Continental tires
Body & Paint
Shop: Bio Kustumz /John Hammond of Johnny’s Auto Color & Body Works
PPG Burgundy toner over black base
Charcoal hood, under hood, inside bed and tailgate done in satin
Pinstriping by David of D.A. Designs, Long Beach, CA
Stock hood and grille
Rear roll pan
Stock front bumper pulled in from trimmed frame horns
Bedside tapered 4 inches
Tailgate tapered 4 inches and molded into bedsides
Custom wood bed floor with custom Plexiglas clear etching
HID projector headlights
Rain gutters shaved
Door bottoms rounded at lower corner
Shop: TMI Products
Vinyl and suede TMI Pro series Sport VXR buckets
TMI multi-piece German square-weave carpet
Dakota Digital gauges
TMI billet steering wheel in matching colors and materials
Power one-piece windows
Vintage Air AC
Retrosound head unit, 8-inch subs and amp
QuietRide sound deadener
Special Thanks From the Owner: “Thanks to AFE Power, American Racing Wheels, Champion Cooling Systems, Continental Tires, Dakota Digital, Genie Shifter, HID Projectors, Flowmaster, Johnny’s Auto Color & Body Werx, Max at Bio Kustumz, JH Restorations, LMC Truck, Optima, Painless, Precision Rubber, QuietRide, Retrosound, Ridetech and Vintage Air.”
Eddie Motorsports’ serpentine pulley kit is a huge upgrade to the small-block’s appearance and performance value.
The GM 327-ci V-8 has been scrubbed and spit-shined to a show finish.
American Racing’s VF485 wheels from the AR Forged line have been custom finished with matching burgundy details and sit snuggled inside Continental rubber.
TMI Products’ interior offerings go way past seats and consoles. Its door panels, carpet kits and other kits are true VIP quality.
TMI Products will work miracles on any truck’s interior. The VXR buckets and waterfall console feature plush vinyl and suede and contrast stitching and grommets for added looks.