Porterville, California, is a small town located about 50 miles north of Bakersfield, on Interstate 65, and it has had more custom trucks built there in the past 50 years than any other place on the planet. Here are two of Porterville's latest.
We know the '67-'72 GM trucks have always been among the favorites of early-model custom-truck enthusiasts. The straight, smooth, and simple bodylines make a clean canvas for whoever wishes to partake in a fairly effortless creation. Just drop it, add wheels and tires, body, paint, and interior. They are a timeless generation of American iron.
Mark McDonald Jr. from Porterville shared the first buildup of the '69 GMC with his dad, Mark Sr., as a father and son project after Mark Jr. bought it in 1993. After years of cruisin' and showin', it was retired for some updated modifications.
The revision consisted of sending the truck to the crew at KRZ Customs in Fresno, where it was disassembled down to the bare frame. The front suspension crossmember was raised 3 inches and fitted with a pair of custom-built lower control arms. To achieve a rocker-scrapin' stance, a pair of Early Chassis 2-inch drop spindles were fitted between the custom lower and stock upper control arms. The front stopping power is handled by an Early Classic disc-brake conversion kit. A pair of Nitro Drop gas shocks were relocated on the framerails. The stock transmission crossmember was removed and replaced with a raised transmission crossmember. These frame and suspension modifications were all major factors in the slammed suspension equation. To finish it off, a pair of Firestone pneumatic 'bags were installed. The front suspension rolls on a pair of Boyd Coddington Smoothie 20x8-inch aluminum wheels, which were then wrapped with Continental P245/40R20 rubber.
To achieve a slammed four-corner stance, the factory framerails were cut off just behind the cab. New 2x4-inch rear framerails were designed with major 14-inch step notches, allowing the 12-bolt rear-end housing that was stuffed with 2:73 gears and new five-lug Early Chassis 31-spline axles ample clearance when the 'bags are fully deflated. The rear framerails were spud-welded for insured strength and rigidity. KRZ Customs fabricated custom brackets for the four-link Panhard bar rear suspension. A pair of Pro Shock absorbers were teamed up with a pair of Firestone pneumatic 'bags, that are huffed and puffed by two Viair compressors with 3/8-inch valves and hard lines to give Mark the ability to perform its rocker scraping athleticism. A pair of chubby Goodyear Eagle P275/45R20 rear tires provide the grip on the power end.
The stout '69 Chevy 350ci small-block was freshened up by the team at Shetler Machine, which internally balanced, blueprinted, and assembled the entire engine. Shetler decked the engine block, and machined the block's cylinder bores 0.040-inch over factory spec. An Edlebrock camshaft was carefully inserted into the new cam bearings. TRW pistons with new rings were dropped into each cylinder. An Edelbrock bump stick was carefully inserted through the cam bearings. A complete Edelbrock valve train, including intake manifold and 650cfm carburetor, were then bolted on. The electrical power is supplied by an Optima Yellow Top battery. A re-curved HEI distributor and ignition create enough voltage to fire and maintain the mighty 350ci engine. A pair of ram-horn exhaust manifolds were Jet-Hot coated, then bolted up to the cylinder heads exhaust ports. The 2-1/2-inch-diameter exhaust flows into a pair of Flowmaster Delta Flow mufflers.
What sets the '67-72 C10 trucks above other generations is their distinguished long, low, and straight bodylines. Mark and his dad spent endless hours using a hammer and dolly, then filling, skimming, and block sanding to get the cab, fenders, hood, bedsides and tailgate perfectly straight and smooth. Grant Customs in Oroville, California, laid back the leading edge of the stock hood 2-inches and removed the center section of the hood. A center section from a '98 Chevy hood was then grafted in. The side marker lights, door locks, mirrors, tailgate handle, and bed stake pockets were all shaved and filled. The original driprail was removed and replaced with 1/4-inch rod. Chad's Auto Glass in Porterville installed new glass all the way around, including the one-piece side windows. The rear fenderwells were widened 3 inches and the entire bed floor was raised 6 inches. Painter Lee Millinich from Hanford, California, used DuPont Hot Hues Red Hot Meltdown paint as a basecoat, followed by color-sanding the surface silky smooth. The entire truck's skin was then buried in mutiple clearcoats. After it was given several weeks to cure in the hot summer San Joaquin Valley sun, it was then cut, buffed, and polished to an endless, mirror finish. The grille shell was given a couple coats of graphite color to match the Boyd Coddington five-spoke graphite wheel centers.
Opening the doors exposes us to a cramped cab red interior. The wider than wide dash was smoothed including the glovebox. The glovebox door was removed, then transformed into a raised gauge panel housing the TPI gauges.
It was then transplanted into the dash, in front of the chrome-plated ididit tilt steering column, and capped with a red leatherette-covered Billet Specialties three-spoke steering wheel. The smoothed dash, door panels, headliner,and factory cut down bench seat were covered with matching red leatherette by the crew at Big Daddy's Upholstery in Porterville. The cab floor was covered with Mercedes-Benz red wool carpet. The billet aluminum door handles and window cranks highlight the red leatherette door panels.
If you are waiting to hear about Marks awesome audio sound system and entertainment center with GPS, you will see or hear nothing. The only sound is the rumblin' thunder of the potent 350ci V-8 under the hood.
This time around was a long journey. Mark said he couldn't have done it without the help and advice from his dad, his brother-in-law Loren Johnson who laid the bed's wood floor, and the patience and support of his wonderful and understanding wife Michele. Mark's close friend, Mike Fusco of Fusco's Detail Shop, makes sure the little red GMC is always lookin' slick. Every time I see Mark, he's cruisin' low with a smile from ear to ear.
The red-on-red interior was stitched by the local crew at Big Daddy's Custom Upholstery in
The center of the grille was painted titanium gray to match the wheel center spokes. Mark
To get the rockers to lay out and suck up those Coddington 20s, a new back-half frame was
Cruisin' down the boulevard, with the wind blowing in his hair, and the tunes blasting in his ears has always been a vision forMike Fusco from Porterville. Mike, who is a physical education teacher in Visalia, California, owns a very successful auto detailing business, Fusco's Detail Shop. He has always liked the straight and clean bodylines of the '67-'72 Chevy/GMC trucks.
Mike's buddy Mark McDonald, who's also from Porterville, has a hammered '69 GMC pickup. Never one to replicate others, Mike decided to build a Chevy two-door Blazer, which he named FATT '70. After meeting with custom builder Bob Grant from Grant Customs in Oroville, they discussed Mike's vision to transform his Blazer into a radically modified custom roadster.
After removing the Blazer body from the frame, the rails were boxed to add strength and rigidity. Then, the rear portion of the frame was C-notched. Brett Grant at Kutrus in Porterville lowered the nose by installing a pair of Early Classic Enterprises 2-inch dropped spindles, Slam Specialties pneumatic 'bags, and Belltech gas shocks. Out back, the factory trailing-arm rear suspension is activated with a pair of Slammed Specialties 'bags and KYB gas shocks, allowing for extreme rear-vertical suspension travel. A pair of Early Classic Enterprises 12-inch cross-drilled slotted rotors, with four-piston calipers provide instant stopping power up front. Early Classic Enterprises hard and soft brake lines link the four brakes to the master cylinder and booster, which were mounted under the floorboard to keep the firewall smooth without any barnacles. The rear suspension uses factory drum brakes with Early Classic Enterprises brake shoes. To achieve the critical tire and wheel sizes with correct backspacing measurements, Mike turned to Ken Esajian at Esajian Wheels in Torrance. A pair of 20x8-1/2-inch front wheels with 5-inch backspacing and 22x10-inch wheels with 4-1/2-inch backspacing Intro Pentia aluminum wheels were wrapped in Nitto 255/35ZR20 NT555 in the front, and Nitto 285/35ZR22 NT555 rear rubber.
The '99 350ci Vortec engine with aluminum heads was machined then rebuilt with all of the
Chris Edwards at Edwards Automotive in Porterville refurbished the '99 Chevy Vortec 350ci V-8 engine with cast-iron block and aluminum cylinder heads. An Edelbrock Performer polished intake manifold with an Edelbrock RPM Quadra-jet 850cfm carburetor mixes and disperses the fuel and air mixture. A MSD HEI distributor and MSD 8.5mm ignition wires distribute the electrical charge to the Champion spark plugs. A variety of Billet Specialties engine eye candy was bolted on, including billet aluminum pulleys, air cleaner, valve covers, and breathers. The Cool Flex dual-fan system keeps the water temp in the normal heat range. Elroy Newberry at Newberry's Muffler in Visalia, California, installed the Sanderson block hugger shorty, Cermachrome coated headers. He then bent up the 3-inch custom exhaust that flows into the two Coffin mufflers.
A GM '99 700-R4 automatic transmission received a B&M shift kit to develop firmer shifts. Pearson Alignment in Bakersfield measured, cut, and balanced the driveshaft, thereby linking the torque and horsepower to the GM 12-bolt rearend, which was stuffed with 3.08 gears.
Bob Grant at Grant Customs was responsible for the insane body modifications. The factory doors were cut down to make them level with the rear quarter panels. Plates were made to fill in the V-corners at the A-pillars to support a pair of custom billet side mirrors. After removing the Blazer's lid, Bob proceeded to finish off the inner and outer body walls. The windshield frame and A-pillars were reworked and raked back 14 inches to create a more aero profile. The door handles, locks, emblems, the gas filler door, and the front and rear marker lights were all shaved. Bob relocated the gas filler and neck to the driver-side rear corner of the body cap. They decided to re-skin the tailgate removed the bodyline, then welded it and ground it smooth. A pair of wider and taller rear wheel tubs were fabricated to accommodate the larger wheels and tires. Next, the rear and front bumpers were sectioned, then frenched into the body for a tighter fit. To carry out the smooth rear end, the taillights were also frenched. A custom-cut windshield cowl was fabricated to match the hood skin with a center crease. A '67-'68 grille shell was inserted into the Blazer's leading edge, flanked by a pair of Zoops Tri-Bar Blue Dot headlights. With all of the body mods completed, the Blazer was delivered to Dennis Watson Jr. at Golden State Paint & Body in Porterville. After the body was prepped, sanded, and tack-ragged, Dennis applied his own secret blend of DuPont Red basecoat, then color-sanded it, and laid down multiple clearcoats.
A bird's-eye view of the interior showcases the excellent stitch craft-workmanship by Ronn
Grant Kustoms fabricated a '57 Chevy pickup-style dash with an actual '57 dash, gauge cluster, and eyebrow. Auto Meter white face classic gauges reveal the engine's vital signs. The driver steering input is handled by an ididit chrome tilt steering column, capped by a Billet Specialties GTX 101 steering wheel that was wrapped with tan leather by Buster's Upholstery in Porterville. The crew at Edwards Automotive installed the Painless Wiring harness. The dash contours continue and are wrapped into the doors. Ronnie and Randy Broadhead, a father and his son, at Buster's Upholstery did all of the cutting and stitching. A steel fabricated center console separates the two custom cut-down low-back tan leather Glide bucket seats. The rear bench seat was custom fabricated to fit between the wider wheel tubs. Custom tan leather door panels with Billet Specialties door handles and RB's Obsolete Automotive covered fiberglass armrests add style to the open-air interior. Then, Dynamat sound deadening insulation was applied on the floor before the tan pile carpet was laid down. Lokar is responsible for the gas and brake pedals. The air conditioning is the California breeze and the headliner is the clear blue sky.
The open-air audio sound system is orchestrated by a Pioneer head unit, which is powered by two Rockford Fosgate amplifiers. The massive custom subwoofer enclosure was designed and constructed by Mark Felix at California Car Stereo in Porterville. The sub enclosure houses an Optima battery, two amplifiers, a chrome fire extinguisher, and additional storage. A pair of 12-inch ported Rockford Fosgate subwoofers produce the hard hitting heavy base vibes. The mid tones are produced by four Rockford Fosgate 6-1/2-inch Triaxials, which are located in the lower kick panels. The entire system was also wired by Mark.
Fulfilling the vision of a perfectionist sometimes makes for a long journey, just ask Mike's wife Renee.
The custom, smoothed dash was modified using an eyebrow gauge cluster section from a '57 C
The power end spins on 22x10-inch Intro Pentia aluminum wheels consumed in Nitto 285/35ZR2
Custom tan leather door panels were accented with tuck 'n' roll inserts with grooves that