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Young truck enthusiasts are the future of our hobby and it’s refreshing to witness first-hand when they grab the proverbial bull by the horns when taking on their very first build. For 18-year-old Drew Gale of Somers, Connecticut, his journey got started four years ago when he first became infatuated with a tattered 1963 Chevy C80 dump truck serving as a workhorse on his family’s farm. The old behemoth possessed just the right amounts of brute power, classic good looks, and charisma to make his young mind grab hold and not let go. When looking deep into what made it tick he was particularly smitten by its 348ci V-8 and often hoped to transplant it into a smaller C10 model from the mid 1960s.
Seeing his son’s devotion to pursuing a potential project, John Gale wasted no time in getting involved. At age 14, Drew and his dad first took on the task of pulling the vintage V-8 from the C80 and followed up by beginning the search for a suitable truck to accept the transplant. To get started and learn to understand the mechanics of what made trucks tick, he purchased a 1964 Chevy C10 Stepside (for one dollar) that had long ago succumbed to the ravages of harsh New England winters. The old wreck was the perfect medium for a young teen to get his hands dirty as he started to disassemble it as a learning tool.
Once Drew was comfortable with the knowledge he gained from the exercise, the pair began a serious search for a donor truck. Used to seeing vehicles eaten away from winter road salt, they focused on looking for a rust-free truck to start with. Scouring the classified ads they finally came upon a 1966 C10 recently brought to their area from Texas. Upon checking it out they confirmed that it was an original longbed with factory A/C and six-cylinder power with a three-on-the-tree. Seeing that it was mostly untouched and noting its minor shortcomings, a deal was made and it was brought to their home shop to evaluate. Drew envisioned a cool street truck with just enough attitude to serve as a perfect cruiser to drive to high school when he got his license. How cool is that?
Taking on a new project for the first time, Drew and John spent plenty of hours disassembling their new find and slowly began the process of rebuilding it. Wanting to meet the goal of Drew having the truck ready for his senior year it was obvious that they would need help to complete the build. One weekend while attending a local swap meet in search of parts, they met up with the team from a new local shop, New England Speed & Custom from their hometown of Somers. They immediately hit it off with the team of Howie Coro, Josh Wilson, Matt Firestone, and Dale Wilson who were devout traditionalists and passionate trucks. The group got together at the Gales’ home shop to review the progress the pair had made and to add their creative ideas to the project.
Shortly after, the truck was transferred to NESC for the build to continue. With the truck already in pieces their first focus was on the original frame. Since the stock spine was rust free it was blasted clean and powdercoated in satin black. Seeing that the truck would need a much lower stance, a pair of LMC Truck 4-inch drop coil springs were added to the stock rear suspension along with Belltech Nitro Drop 2 shocks, a Classic Performance Products antisway bar, and GM 10-bolt rear packed with 3.73:1 gears to transfer the power.
Up front, the refurbished IFS got its nose in the dirt thanks to a combination of LMC Truck 2½-inch drop spindles combined with matching 2-inch drop coil springs, and Belltech Nitro Drop 2 shocks, while a Classic Performance Products antiroll bar completes the mix. To update the braking system, a firewall-mounted Classic Performance Products chrome dual master with 9-inch booster pushes fluid through stainless lines to stock drums out back and a CPP 11-inch disc conversion up front complete with two-piston calipers to tame the beast. Wanting to give the hauler a classic style, 15-inch steelies from The Wheelsmith were capped with big ‘n’ little Coker Classic wide whitewall rollers.
Remember the old 348ci mill that Drew and John exhumed from the C80 with hopes of transplanting into the project? Well the costs for the rebuild far exceeded Drew’s current budget, so it was put on hold and a ’79 350ci V-8 recently plucked from a former police car came into play. The engine was sent over to Mark Eastwood at Eastwood’s Auto Machine in nearby Somersville to get the full treatment.
Massaged to 355 cubes, the block was filled with a stock crank linked to Eagle rods and pistons, while a pair of Eastwood’s own signature aluminum heads were bolted in place, complemented by a Summit Racing Stage 1 dual-plane intake sucking air through a Holley Street Avenger 670-cfm carb crowned by a Cadillac-styled air cleaner from Speedway Motors. A Mallory HEI lights the fire, while spent gasses are dumped through Hooker headers to a 2½-inch polished stainless exhaust with MagnaFlow mufflers by New England Speed & Custom. A warmed-over GM 200-4R trans packed with a B&M shift kit by Stop & Start Transmission of Somers pushes the power rearward through a driveshaft by Camerota Truck Parts of Enfield.
When it came to address the body and bed the team at NESC first stripped everything to bare metal. It was determined a number of panels would need replacement so a call was made to LMC Truck for sheetmetal, including new floor pans, inner and outer rockers, door bottom corners, and cab corners. NESC also hand-fabricated any other unavailable related patch panels and completed their installation. With the repairs out of the way, the team focused on a number of custom updates that included removal of the driprails, shaving emblems and antenna, as well as filling the firewall and bed stake pockets. The door vent windows were removed and a one-piece side glass kit from No Limit Engineering was then installed.
Wrapping up on customizing the team added an LMC Truck front bed panel with Bow Tie embossment as well as a fresh tailgate and a custom one-off hidden tailgate latch system. Finally the inner and outer floors were treated to Lizard Skin for added protection and insulation. With the metalwork completed everything was sent over to Twin Brooks Restoration in Suffield to make it razor sharp and prep it for paint. Wanting to retain the original orange-and-white color scheme, Drew upped the ante and went straight to House of Kolor for a dose of their Tangelo Pearl and White Diamond Pearl. Jimmy Smith at Twin Brooks then laid down the dramatic vibe bringing it all to life. The legendary One Arm Bandit then sealed the deal with just enough classic pinstriping.
Once the truck moved into final assembly back at NESC it was time to infuse just the right amount of detail into the interior. While trucks can be sparse at times, the team sent the factory bench over to A Supreme Upholstery in Windsor Locks to have John Howard recover it in flat-pleated black leather. Back at the shop, fresh black carpet from LMC Truck was installed, followed by a Lokar shifter and an ididit steering column topped with a black leather-wrapped billet steering wheel by LMC Truck.
To add a bit of dazzle to the dash, the team resprayed the factory black gauges in white, added tunes from Retro Sound, as well as cool breezes thanks to a Vintage Air front-runner system. Finally, to breathe new life into the bed, the NESC team treated it to fresh curly maple flooring from Bed Wood and Parts, finishing it to an ultra-high gloss accented by polished bedstrips. With the project complete we know Drew’s going to have the most bitchin’ ride in the high school parking lot and to us that’s just plain cool. We can hardly wait to see what he comes up with when he installs his 348ci mill!
1966 Chevrolet C10
Modifications: carrier bearing crossmember modified for exhaust access by New England Speed & Custom, Somers, Connecticut
Rearend / Ratio: GM 10-bolt / 3.73:1
Rear suspension: LMC Truck 4-inch dropped coil springs with Classic Performance Products antisway bar and Belltech Nitro Drop 2 shocks
Rear brakes: stock drum
Front suspension: stock with LMC Truck 2½-inch drop spindles and 2-inch dropped coil springs, Classic Performance Products antisway bar and Belltech Nitro Drop 2 shocks
Front brakes: Classic Performance Products disc conversion with 11-inch discs and two-piston calipers
Steering box: ’79 Chevy Suburban power steering unit
Front wheels: Wheelsmith 15×7 steelie
Rear wheels: Wheelsmith 15×8 steelie
Front tires: Coker Classic 215/75R15
Rear tires: Coker Classic 235/75R15
Gas tank: LMC Truck / stock replacement
Engine: 1979 Chevrolet 350ci V-8
Heads: aluminum by Eastwood Machine, Somers, Connecticut
Valve covers: Cal Custom finned aluminum
Manifold / Induction: Summit Racing Stage 1 aluminum dual plane / Holley Street Avenger 670-cfm
Ignition: Mallory HEI
Exhaust / Mufflers: custom 2½-inch polished stainless / Magnaflow
Transmission: GM 200-4R automatic
Modifications: B&M shift kit
Modifications: mild shave, filled bed pockets and firewall, driprails removed, one-piece side glass, and metal fabrication all by New England Speed & Custom
Fenders front / rear: stock
Grille: LMC Truck / stock replacement
Bed: bedside pockets filled, custom tailgate latch, and curly maple bed floor
Bodywork and paint by: Twin Brooks Restoration, Suffield, Connecticut
Paint type / Color: House of Kolor / Tangelo Pearl with White Diamond Pearl, pinstriping by One Arm Bandit
Headlights / Taillights: LMC Truck / stock replacement
Outside mirrors: stock
Bumpers: LMC Truck / stock replacement
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Stereo: Retro Sound with Pioneer speakers
Steering wheel: LMC Truck
Steering column: ididit
Seats: stock bench
Upholstery by: A Supreme Upholstery, Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Material / Color: leather / black
Carpet: LMC Truck / black loop