By Scotty Lachenauer – Photography by the Author
There are many ways to go about owning your dream classic hot rod or pickup. Some people seek out and purchase a finished vehicle that closely resembles the hot rod of their dreams. Others hunt down a needy ride and do a total classic truck restoration to achieve the results they desire. However, there are a select group of aficionados who pursue that project that they have yearned for, and then slowly rebuild the car or truck into the ride of their dreams, all while enjoying it along the way. We examine the latter, with a 1966 Chevy C10 built one piece at a time.
Jeff Wadsworth of Ringoes, New Jersey, is someone who figured he’d find a decent running and driving truck and then gradually take it to the next level. Though he thought it was a great idea at first, Jeff soon realized that doing the rebuild in spread-out trips to the restoration shop might not have been the best way of attacking the project.
“We did all the work in pieces, over time, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. However, in the long run it worked out for me. It really came down to both the affordability of the restoration and my main goal of STAYING MARRIED during the process,” Jeff laughs. No matter how he went about it, this classic C10 would one day become the truck Jeff was after from the start … and he did it one piece at a time.
C10 or Bust!
Jeff’s truckin’ trek started back in 2015. “I’ve had a lot of classics in my life but the 60s style C10 was on my short list from the start,” Jeff says. So in 2015 he sought out and discovered the pickup project he was looking for. “I found my truck in Asheville, North Carolina. The owner was a retired mechanic who was dabbling in restoration and car flipping. The C10 was in better-than-advertised condition so I quickly paid him his modest asking price and loaded it up,” he says.
From the start the old truck was a driver, but after a once-over, Jeff realized he needed to improve the steering on the old girl. “I removed the steering pump as it was over responsive and dangerous. We added a unit that gave it a more manual/sport feel. It drastically improved the handling,” Jeff states. Once that was accomplished, the owner took the truck to the streets in earnest, driving it all over the byways of his rural locale.
However, Jeff knew there were better things on the horizon for this C10. After seeing trucks he admired cross the block at auctions like Barrett-Jackson he understood what he needed to do to upgrade his “farm” truck to make it into an everyday runner. “A modern 4 link suspension was first on my list, followed by disc brakes, an overdrive transmission, and, of course, a good set of wheels and tires. Now I just needed to find a place to do the work,” he says.
Blue Skies Ahead
Jeff heard good things about Blue Sky Performance and Restoration, based out of Budd Lake, New Jersey, so he decided to talk to the guys about doing some of the work needed to bring the truck up to snuff. There, proprietors Jesse Barratt and Jeff Manzella took on Jeff’s short list of needed modifications and made it all happen. Manzella handled the mechanical work, installing a RideTech suspension, a 700R4 transmission, a set of Wilwood discs, along with a new custom stainless 2.5-inch exhaust. To add to the wow-factor, Jeff then removed the Torque Thrusts the C10 came with and added a cool set of Steelies from Detroit Steel Wheels and fresh performance tires to the mix.
Once out of Blue Sky Performance and Restoration, Jeff hit the pavement with his “resto-fied” 1966. The truck was a whole different animal with the new suspension, brakes, and performance tires and Jeff wasted no time getting his money’s worth out of the updated Chevy. But soon the owner desired more modifications done to his bedded hot rod and a call went out to Barratt to see what could be done about filling this 1966 C10’s needs.
“The truck was great but I wanted a new interior. So I asked [Barratt] what shop would be a good match for the truck. He then told me about Bux Customs out of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Owner Chis McClintock had a one-year waiting list but he fit me in and got it done in a reasonable amount of time,” Jeff states. What he got from Bux Customs was a stunning cockpit, based on his original seat frame, re-foamed for more comfort, and then covered in Rich Clay–colored Relicate leather. New door panels match the seat upholstery and a fresh custom carpet cleaned up the floor. A reproduction steering wheel sprayed to match the classic truck’s paint scheme finished off the look Jeff was after.
Back for More … and More
Once again Jeff headed off into the sunset manning his 1966 C10 in its fresh new upholstery. The truck was a complete pleasure to drive in, now boasting a top-notch interior, a road-proven suspension, and choice add-ons. However, now Jeff was getting the itch to make his 1966 C10 a show truck; that is a ride he could take to the streets but have that award-winning look he had been dreaming about. Once again he headed over to Blue Sky Performance and Restoration to have a talk with the crew about more work on the C10. “It was bound to happen. Once I saw the amazing work [McClintock] did on the interior I then decided to make this C10 a showstopper. To ‘finish it off,’ I needed a fresh paint job from [Barratt],” Jeff says.
Well of course that wasn’t all Jeff was in store for. After seeing the condition of the truck’s metal once it was stripped, that “paint job” turned into quite a few fresh panels being welded in as well. Now the only original metal on the C10 is the cab and the hood. But it didn’t stop there. Fresh-factory tinted glass was ordered up as well to add a sporty look. To finish it all off, Barratt expertly laid out the Axalta Cromax paint; GM Aqua Green on the flanks, contrasted with GM Toasted Marshmallow up top.
Well you’d think this fresh skin would be the final factor in making Jeff sit on his laurels and admire his now-transformed C10. Well, it wasn’t meant to be. “After some thought I decided to get some new wheels for the pickup. So we ordered up a set of Schott Accelerators, 20×9 up front and 20×12 out back, and set them up with some Pirelli rubber. These rims are just truly unbelievable and along with the P Zeros they make a great combo,” Jeff states.
After talking to Manzella and Barratt about adding some performance to the stout small block Chevy the truck came with, the truck went back to Blue Sky Performance and Restoration where a Holley Sniper EFI was ordered up and installed. This mod not only adds to the driveability of the 1966 C10 but also makes the truck more dependable. “Adding the EFI was a great move and it’s pretty incredible what it adds to the powertrain,” Jeff states.
Now, with the look, feel, and driveability Jeff was after from the get-go, this 1966 C10 is ready to take on the road. It had been a long journey, spread out over a good five years, but the results were everything that Jeff had imagined could be obtained ever since he brought the C10 into his garage back in 2015.
And the owner is now taking advantage of his freshly built bedded hot rod. “I’m a surfer, so I enjoy heading to the beach with the longboards in the back … just like it was 1966 in SoCal,” Jeff declares. Accolades go out to a few people who have helped with the restoration of this classic hot rod. “Thanks to Jesse, Jeff, and Chris for their high-quality workmanship and their friendship. I also want to thank my dad and brother for instilling the love of cars in me.”
One piece at a time. The Man in Black Would be Proud of this Sweet 1966 C10