Square-body is used in the custom truck world to describe a Chevy C10 pickup from ’73 to ’87. The bodies take on a squared shape with square corners both horizontally and vertically. Their popularity is threatening the previous generation ’67 to ’72 Bow Tie brigade that has been at the pinnacle of the custom truck world for sometime. Here is an example that turns heads.
Le Phong and his brother Bobbie, from Humble, Texas, bought the ’84 C10 from a neighbor. At the time of purchase the C10 was lifted and rolled on a set of 35s. Le had intentions of bringing it out of the clouds and back down to earth. Chaotic Rods & Customs in Conroe, Texas, performed lowering of the suspension. They performed a 3-inch Z step to the front framerails and then fabricated a set of front upper and lower control arms that were bolted to a pair of 3-inch Belltech dropped spindles. The C10’s front vertical travel was controlled and activated by a pair of Slam Specialties RE7 pneumatic bags and KYB shocks. Chaotic four-linked the rear suspension then bolted it to a GM 12-bolt rearend. The rear framerails received a 9-inch step with a pair of Slam Specialties RE8 bags, a Viair 400 compressor and GC-450EXT valves. Half-inch hard copper lines supply the air-on-demand system that allowed the wheels and tires to tuck deep into the wheel openings. Stopping power was delivered by a set of front and rear SSBC (Stainless Steel Brake Company) disc brakes. A set of Budnik Diamond Light billet aluminum 22s and Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber allowed the C10 to roll. Next the power was addressed.
Le and his brother Bobbie built the ’77 Chevy 350ci small-block engine. It was machined .030 over, and a set of Ventek rods and TRW 11.1 aluminum pistons were connected to the Summit crankshaft. A lumpy Comp Cams camshaft was installed with Comp Cam hydraulic lifters and push rods and a pair of Jegs aluminum cylinder heads were bolted to the block. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum intake manifold was capped with a Holley 850-cfm four-barrel carburetor. An MSD electronic ignition is charged by an Optima Red Top battery. A pair of Hedman ceramic-coated headers flow into a 3-inch exhaust system with a pair of two-chamber Flowmaster mufflers providing the growl. An AFCO aluminum radiator and dual electric fans maintain a cool consistent engine temperature. The engine was dressed up with a March billet aluminum pulley system. After all was said and done, the mighty small-block produced more than 500 horsepower on 110-octane race fuel. The power is transmitted through a TH350 automatic transmission with a 5,000-stall converter. It was linked with an aluminum driveshaft to the 12-bolt rearend stuffed with 4.10 gears and a posi unit. A 17-gallon aluminum fuel tank made sure the 355ci power plant is well nourished. Now that we have checked out under the hood, let’s examine the cool body mods.
The original body was in pretty rough shape except for the cab and doors. A new bed was constructed from new OE GM parts. Le decided to replace the original ’84 C10 front sheet metal, grille, lights and bumper with a newer ’91 Suburban front clip. His brother Bobbie shaved the cab seams and side markers. The sheetmetal was completely block sanded straight and smooth before laying down multiple coats of custom mixed PPG Bad Ass Blue basecoats. The truck was buried in five coats of clear and then color-sanded and buffed creating the endless depth and richness. The interior was also in need of major work.
The interior was restyled using a ’91 Suburban dash and gauge cluster that were customized by Joe at Advanced Auto Trim in Houston. Joe utilized a combination of ostrich and suede for the C10 bench seat, door panels, and headliner. The plastic pieces were painted to match the leather. The steering column was capped with a Billet Specialties Stiletto steering wheel and received a Billet Specialties dress up kit. To add a little sport truck flavor, a B&M Street Bandit Hi-Tek shifter protrudes though the floor. The side vent wings were tossed and a pair of One Piece Products glass side windows were installed.
Second Go Round
After trailering and campaigning his ’84 Chevy C10 for a short while, Le Phong decided to sell his squared pride and joy. Now enter Mark Espino from Houston. Mark had learned of Le’s square-body through a mutual friend. Mark was not a real die-hard square-body fan, but when Mark found out Le was selling his C10, he decided to check it out. After seeing the truck, Mark had to have it for his collection. Mark’s pet peeve is that he doesn’t trailer anything. His custom vehicles were all built to drive.
The clean custom interior features a Dakota Digital custom Ion gauges with a tilt steering
To make the C10 more driver friendly, Mark made some minor changes. The suspension was fine-tuned and a pair of wider Budnik Diamond Light 22x12-inch rear wheels were fitted with a pair of chubby 325/25ZR22 Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber. The TH350 automatic transmission received a more drivable 3,000-stall converter done by Noe’s Transmissions and the healthy 355ci engine was detuned. Because Mark drives his custom rides everywhere, a Vintage Air system and control panel was installed. Moises Gurerrero, at Hot Dogs Customs in Houston, was responsible for installing and wiring the Kenwood Navi flip-up head unit. It sends signals to a JL 300x4 amplifier that in turn control the mids/high that were installed in the kick panels and A-pillars. The thunderous JL 13.5-inch subwoofer was grafted into a ported sub enclosure next to a JL 500x1 amplifier to power the sub. Both were hidden behind the bench seat. Mark replaced the one-piece side windows with functional factory wing/vent power windows.
This beautiful ’84 C10 Chevy will be a nice added piece to Mark’s performance collection that presently consists of a ’55 Chevy BelAir, ’68 Camaro, ’67 Nova, ’66 Lincoln convertible, and a ’57 Chevy pickup with Apache fleetside bed that we featured a few months ago, plus his new SRT Hemi, Charger and Challenger.
Mark would like to thank Bobby and Le of Rheas Chevy, Drops R Us, Jose Pena, Moises Guerrero, and Hot Dog Customs.