Once we caught word of what was in store for Mark Barbee's '63 C10, we anxiously awaited SEMA '07 for our chance to finally see it in person. All of our hopes were realized when we caught our first glimpse of the True Blue Pearl Chevy: The truck was everything Mark had promised it would be.
The truck you see here was three years in the making, as the build was a frame-off, ground-up overhaul of the 45-year-old truck. Actually, frame-off doesn't really put it into perspective; it's more like frame-gone, as Kevin at Grunion Fabrication in Phoenix, Arizona, kept little of the factory Chevy pieces. The front crossmember and A-arms were the only survivors of the custom chassis build, and even those few bits had to be heavily modified; but the sacrifice had to be made to get the chassis tucked well under the rockers. Mark chose a set of Devino Road Concept Sire wheels to set off the ultra-low stance. Each wheel measures 24x9 and is shod with 275/25R24 Toyo Proxes. Behind each wheel you'll see Baer disc brakes, and if you look behind those you might catch a glimpse of the Firestone `bags that give the '63 its rocker-dragging stance.
No `60s-era straight six would look right under the hood of such a modern-styled ride, so Mark picked a Ramjet 350 to power his truck. The Ramjet is reminiscent of mechanical fuel injection systems that were optional on high-performance Chevy cars beginning in 1957, but the updated electronics keep him cruising without the need for tuning. Mark installed the engine with help from Rick and Mike at Rick's Automotive, where the engine was fitted with Dynomax headers and topped off with Royal Purple fluids. Power from the small-block is channeled through a 700-R4 transmission to a 10-bolt rear axle with 4.11:1 gears, low enough to get the truck up and moving in a hurry.
To get the body up to par with the chassis and running gear, Mark left the bodywork to Jim Michaud, also in Phoenix. Jim shaved the handles, trim, and wiper cowl before simplifying the rear with a roll pan and welding the tailgate shut. The careful observer will also notice that the front fenders have been flared just slightly to allow the 24-inch wheels and Toyo tires to tuck in when aired down. The turn signals and taillights also met their end by way of a welding torch, with vertical LED bars taking their place in the tailgate. New rear wheelwells were shaped with a constant radius, while the new raised bed floor was fit with an oak floor and stainless steel stringers. With the welding, grinding, and filling done, Jim took on the laborious process of priming and blocking the truck's long panels to ensure a perfect foundation for the House of Kolor True Blue Pearl.
The interior of the C10 was stripped clean and the dash was welded smooth for a fresh start. Vintage Air A/C and an Eclipse DVD navigation head unit were mounted within easy reach in the center of the dash where Steve at Definitive Audio took over the stereo work. His custom center console and rear cab wall were filled with Memphis audio gear. The 12-inch sub in the center is powered by a Memphis amp located under the driver seat, while the Memphis components in the custom door panels and kick panels are powered by yet another Memphis amp under the passenger seat. Once Steve was done giving the Chevy plenty of audio power, he turned it over to Todd at The Interior Shop in Phoenix, where black carpet covered the floor, then thick brown leather was wrapped over the door panels, rear cab wall, and seats. Thick baseball-glove stitching added a little more texture.
Mark had the patience to build this truck with a painstak-ing attention to all of the details that must be in place for a custom truck. He wanted to give special thanks to his wife, Libby, Scott at Devino Road Concepts, Jim Michaud for spending so much time making the paint perfect, and Rick and Mike at Rick's Automotive for all of their late nights wrapping the truck up. Several companies also helped Mark out along the way: Toyo Tires, Memphis Audio, Optima, Dynomax, Royal Purple, Prothane, Viair, Auto Meter, ididit, Pro's Pick, and Electric Life. As a reward for Mark's work, SEMA chose the '63 as it's Best Classic Truck. Having walked through the halls at SEMA ourselves, we know it was no easy task choosing a winner, but Mark's truck certainly was deserving. What might be real impressive to the young at heart, Hot Wheels chose to reproduce Mark's truck in miniature. If you really like the looks of Mark's truck, you might be able to find one on the shelf of your local toy store. Just don't bother to look around the Phoenix/Glendale area, because if Mark's anything like us, the stores will be picked clean.
The reverse-tilt hood is on an actuator, so Mark can flip it open without stepping outside
Classic style and modern reliability, by way of a Ramjet 350.