“Take Two’s” Push to the Finish Line

Like many boys who grow up in a rural setting, when John McGraw, Jr., turned 15, his attention changed from Midlothian, Texas, youth sports to personal transportation. He would soon be old enough to drive, and his quest for independence would come in the form of a faded blue 1970 Chevy truck. The object of his automotive obsession was located right around the corner from his parents’ home sitting on rusted steel wheels with flat tires.

John’s dad pointed out that the asking price was a bit high for a truck that didn’t have a motor. The young man would not be dissuaded, however, and his persistent pestering of the neighbor finally paid off. That weathered and worn stepside was eventually hauled home.

John McGraw, Sr., is well known in the dirt track racing scene as Quickdraw McGraw. Through his motorsports network, they located a small block 400 motor and combined it with a 700r4 transmission. That put the truck back on the road, but not for long. When the cam went flat, John convinced his dad to rebuild it with a hotter cam, bigger intake and a mechanical gear drive.

Soon after the updates, Quickdraw received a late-night call from the local sheriff that John had been detained for speeding and evading. Apparently, the modifications to the motor were sufficient enough to result in a citation for 97 mph in a 35 zone. Fortunately, Junior had a clean record and was let go with a stern warning and an expensive ticket.

As time passed, a primered Fleetside bed replaced the Stepside box. The original 1970 front clip was traded for a sleeker ’67 unit. The truck served duty as a parts chaser for Flashback Kustoms, Junior McGraw’s automotive custom shop in Waxahachie, Texas. Eventually the high school hauler was relegated to collecting dust at the back of the shop. It would be over a decade later that the young man’s passion would be reinvigorated.

In 2017, Flashback Kustoms went from side work to full time. Several attempts were made to resurrect that youthful obsession, but Junior’s customer growth always took precedence. Fabrication work was once traded for a paint job that turned into a fiasco. The poorly prepped finish coat was soon flaking off in sheets. Yet another attempt to resurrect the forlorn C10 proved unsuccessful.

Motivation comes in many forms, but peer pressure is an extremely powerful one. In 2019, a challenge from friends and support from family generated another push to revive the truck once again. This time the stars were aligned, and the task seemed achievable. A goal was set to debut the build at C10s in the Park, just 100 days away.

The original frame was stripped and a GSI Machine and Fabrication front crossmember went in place. GSI motor mounts combined with an owner fabricated crossmember raises a 6.0 up above the scrub line. Behind the motor, a 4L65E was prepped by Jeremy Rattan with a Yank 3200 stall convertor.

Under the hood a set of fabricated metal panels surround the LS based motor. Inside the block was made fresh with stock internals and enhanced with ARP crank studs. A Texas Speed Torquer V.4 cam spins between a pair of Patriot Performance modified 243 castings. Holley provided the Sniper sheet metal intake that flows air to the stage three heads. Fuel flow is provided by a matched set of Bosch injectors.

Motivation comes in many forms, but peer pressure is an extremely powerful one. In 2019, a challenge from friends and support from family generated another push to revive the truck once again.    

A polished Eddie Motorsports S-Drive accessory system tucks tightly against the front of the block. Exhaust exits through modified Doug Thorley headers to a hand built 3-inch system made from mandrel bends. Resulting power from that potent combination makes its way to a 9-inch rear end behind a custom drive shaft.

The Ford housing was narrowed, then filled with 3.73 gears spinning around a limited slip differential. This setup swings from a boxed back half mounted to a Flashback built ladder bar system. Ridetech Shock Waves provide rebound control along with height adjustment.

To complete the rolling chassis, a set of Intro “Retro” wheels were mounted at each corner. In front, a pair of 20 x 8.5-inch match the double deep 20 x 15-inch out back. Wilwood slotted rotors are topped off with 4-piston calipers all around. Airlift bags adjust the front height while Ridetech shocks ensure a smooth ride.

Exhilarated yet exhausted, the culmination of effort reaped its reward late Saturday afternoon.

As the framework became closer to completion, attention was turned to the body. Over the years, John had accumulated a long list of modifications that he wanted to apply. As much as he appreciated the truck’s classic styling, there were a few minor things that bothered him. His quest for a smooth, clean look started with the cab. He deleted all of the badges, emblems, mirrors and door locks. Still not satisfied, the ridge down the center of the hood was removed, and the drip rails were shaved clean.

Now that cab was smooth as a baby’s bottom, it was mocked up before paint. When the bed was set in place, John discovered the axle was off center. After a lengthy session of measuring, it was determined the back half was shorter than before. That would be a fairly easy fix if the frame had not been powdercoated in an attempt to meet his rapidly approaching deadline. A decision was made to adjust the dimensions of the bed rather than suspension.

After a lengthy session of slicing and dicing, the Flashback Crew stepped back to admire their work. The new bed is 2 inches shorter and almost 2 inches narrower. Those dimension adjustments may sound like a lot, but in reality, they go completely unnoticed by most observers. Inside the box, hand-formed panels were rolled and radiused to smooth the transition to a very unique bed floor. Rather than use traditional corrugated metal flooring, a marine deck material was chosen instead. This closed cell foam is a waterproof composite that is laser etched with the Flashback Kustoms logo.

To ensure quality results, Gary Reed from G-Tech Fiberglass repair from Waxahachie was called on to assist in prepping the body for color. Chrysler Atlantic Blue in the Omni Plus paint line was chosen to cover the truck. While the exterior was being buffed to a brilliant luster, the interior pieces were being installed.

A layer of Restomod Membrane thermal barrier was rolled smooth then covered with black ACC carpet. Chris Snowden of Snowden Supply sent a contoured bench covered in a medium grain black vinyl. The infamous Joe’l Balboa of Balboa Customs in Red Oak stitched up the dash pad, then built kick panel speaker pods.

A Jegs Performance “Lunar Spoke” steering wheel matches the black faced dash. Behind the bezel is a Dakota Digital VHX cluster. Inside the dash, a Restomod Air “Tru Mod” climate system is adjusted by Tri-Q controls. A Retro Sound receiver provides contemporary tunes with retro styling.

Several all-night sessions were required for the final push to debut at C10s in the Park. Despite a few setbacks that might have sidelined many builders, the Flashback Kustoms crew arrived early Saturday morning. John’s beautiful blue C10 rumbled through the gates of Gezender Park and found a prominent spot to lay in the shade.

Exhilarated yet exhausted, the culmination of effort reaped its reward late Saturday afternoon. “Take Two” was honored with a VIP parking pass for the American Racing Top 50 “Party on the Square” in old town Waxahachie. One hundred days of persistent effort by a group of dedicated friends transformed a high school hauler into a “Hometown Hero.”