In our current day and age, the term classic has an expanding definition. Obviously, the fat-fendered years of the '40s and '50s are the mainstay classic fitment, but as years progress, additional iron fits into the category. Trucks from the '70s and '80s are well-aged at 20-30 years old, with pricing and availability at easy reach. The aftermarket suppliers are embracing this generation of new classic, and quality examples of the smog-choked years are popping up at shows with authority.
A perfect example of a new classic is Christopher Amato's '84 Chevy C10. Purchased for the paltry price of $1,000, Chris has created one piece of spicy Cajun real steel. Twenty-three-year-old Chris is a painter by trade, but it still took this young gun four years to complete his vision. As is usually the case, the vision changed before this square-body terror was on the streets.
Being an original family truck means the C10 saw some work duty before Chris received his chance at resurrection. Chris' grandmother originally owned the Chevy before it was passed to Chris' uncle for roofing work. By the time young Chris received the truck while he was still in high school, the shortbed was damn-near scrap. After Chris graduated, it was time for his caterpillar to become a butterfly.
Beginning with the belly of the beast, Chris and his buddy Jimmy Garris sourced DJM for a pair of 3-inch drop spindles. Adding to the ground-rumbling hammering, Firestone airbags were substituted in place of the coils. Slowing down the road-induced oscillations is a set of Edelbrock IAS shocks. After squeezing a set of 4.10 Richmond gears into the Eaton-posied 10-bolt rearend, custom-built ladder bars from Wizard Racing were welded on in place of the crusty, destroyed leaf springs. Weight-carrying capacity was, again, handed off to Firestone for their double-convoluted air springs. Edelbrock IAS shocks do their duty on the rear as in front. Shiny chrome 22-inch Karma wheels from Alba are bolted on with Pirelli P265/35R22 rubbers front, while wider P305/30R22 rear rubber attempts traction when Chris leans on the throttle. The stock disc/drum brake setup remains on the Chevy, but all new internals were serviced before Chris detailed and installed them with braided stainless brake lines.
With the motor Chris is humping around under the hood, he should have upgraded the brakes. That cam lobing is a sure sign that this is a no-smog-laden 305 originally equipped in these trucks. Kenny Lafferty of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the man with the compression. Starting with a '76 Chevy 400 block, Kenny bored, honed, decked, and squared the iron bottom end, building the base for a monster. Filling the 0.40-inch-over cylinders are 11.25 to 1 Keith Black-forged slugs rotating on shot-peened H-beam rods swinging around a forged steel crank. This small-block is pushing big-block inches at 408. Tickling the valves is a Cam Motion 0.698-inch stick. Tickle? Maybe beating to death is a better term. The upper valvetrain is housed in a completely ported and polished pair of Dart 2 Sport heads. High flow is the way to go, according to head builder Larry Meuxe of Abbyville, Louisiana. Bringing large portions of air into those heads is an Edelbrock Victor Junior intake topped by a Holley fuel mixer and a K&N tall filter. Igniting the fires within is a team of electronics from ACCEL, MSD, and Taylor. With nearly 600 hp on tap, a solid exhaust system was necessary to dump the hot mix. Hooker big-tube headers originally designed for a '78 Camaro were Jet-Hot-coated and mounted to the Darts. Three-inch stainless tubing takes over from there and moves the used air through dual Flowmaster 40-series mufflers, before flushing it to the atmosphere under the bed. Backing the big small-block is a Turbo 350 secured with B&M internals and a torque converter. Running like a cat on fire, Chris was gun at the ready for the exterior.
Covering all the fun parts almost seems a shame, but body and paint is Chris' breadwinner. The stock cab and bed remain from the General, but Chris chose a '91 Suburban front end for a more updated look. With the body assembled, it was time for the welders and grinders. Starting with the front bumper, all the mounting bolts were shaved, and the bumper was tucked in just a bit tighter. Gone are the door handles, side markers, drip rails, stake pockets, and heater blower from the engine compartment. The tailgate received a smooth skin and handle flip. With a beautiful aluminum fuel cell mounted in the bed, there was no reason to keep the factory gas doors, so welded away were they. The rear bumper was bumped, and with the welders still hot, on went the Sir Michaels roll pan. Chris proceeded to finish the prep work before layering his C10 with a red to purple fade using high-quality DuPont products he nabbed off the shelves of Mike & Jerry's paint supply. Flames by Kal helped Chris out by smothering the sheetmetal with a mesmerizing yellow and orange DuPont-equipped flame job. Fine line work was pulled in forest green, and airbrushed waves make the flames appear to be moving. Chris saw the body to fruition by placing a safe coat of clear over the rolling art. Satisfied with his vision, it was interior time.
It takes some people years to learn that they can't do something, but Chris had touched everything else on the truck, why not the interior? With a little stitch work from friend Josh, Chris managed to handle the rest of the interior and sound system. Josh's work includes wrapping the dashpad in gray tweed, covering the door panels and headliner with flame-embossed gray tweed, and re-covering the '97 Suburban buckets with the gray material. Freshly tweeded parts in hand, Chris went to work. The C10 was in good hands. After laying down new carpet, in went the 'Burban seats and painted center console. A B&M truck shifter was also painted and bolted in place. The painted dash was topped with the aforementioned pad and highlighted with shiny billet from Empire Motorsports. Important information is displayed from a bank of Auto Meter gauges. Chris steers the standard cab with a billet and leather Billet Specialties steering wheel attached to a smoothed and colored column. For some soft driving sounds, a JVC head unit attaches to a quartet of Boston Acoustic Rally Series speakers, which are barely audible above the firing order rapping under the hood. But, then again, being bonafide speed junkies, we prefer the sound of the cam lope.
This truck culminates the customizing desire of young Christopher Amato and caps the last decade of his 23-year life. With a minimal amount of fabrication help and junior college paint education, Chris has shown what a capable person with immense drive can accomplish. The Chevy is no hack either, because it has pulled First Place trophies at major events such as Midnight Fantasies, World of Wheels, and Heat Wave. We can't wait to see what kind of progress this rising star produces for his next incarnation. Chris would like to give special thanks to his grandmother for starting the cycle of his dream. Thank yous also go to Chris' family and girlfriend for their enduring belief in him. R.I.P. to "Scooby", Chris' friend who died at the Lake Charles Midnight Fantasies show and didn't get to see Chris walk with two First Place trophies.