The Bigelow Family’s Patina ’68 C10

By the CTP Staff & Mike Bigelow   –   Photography by Grinder TV

Every owner/builder gets a tech sheet to fill out after their truck’s been photographed for a feature—it’s SOP (standard operating procedure) in the magazine world. Some choose to fill it out with a “yes/no” for, well, pretty much everything, leaving us to do the research info-wise, while others take the time to go above and beyond answering the simple “why/how” questions. A good example is Mike Bigelow with his slick C10 “Sweet ’Tina.” Since he stated the facts oh-so matter-of-factly, we figured why not let him tell his own story. Take it away, Mike!

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03 Vintage teal 1968 Chevy C10 side view sunset lighting

Read More: Daniel Stewart’s 1967 C10 Lookin’ Like a Million Bucks

CTP: Why was the truck originally built?

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I always liked the ’67-68 C10 body lines and I knew if I ever built a second-gen Chevy truck it would be a shortbed Fleetside ’67-68. So, after I sold my ’55 Apache at Mecum in Kissimmee, Florida, back 2017, I went in search of a ’68 project.

05 Rear view of a 1968 Chevrolet C10 teal at twilight

CTP: Who participated in the build process?

I did almost everything. However, Metalwork was all done by Josh Hart of Hart-Fab in Freedom, Pennsylvania, which included the front inner fenders, smoothed firewall, trans tunnel, shortening the longbed to shortbed, and rear tube and tunnel. The truck was sent to Street Machinery in Canton, Ohio, by Hart to have the Patina match paint done on the exterior where the modifications were made and Jerome/Boris nailed it. The interior was done locally at PP Custom Upholstery. The color selections were all by my wife; Paully just pulled it all together with a little flare, as always.

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13 Wheel detail of a lowered 1968 Chevrolet C10 showing suspension and fender

CTP: What can you tell us about the history of the truck?

History that I know of is the truck was traded in 1974 at Lambrecht Chevrolet (Google it) in Pierce, Nebraska, and was later part of the “Field of Dreams Auction” in 2013. After trade-in it was parked in the wooded lot as all the trades were at Lambrecht Chevrolet for 40 years and auctioned off by VanDerBrink Auctions in 2013. The truck was purchased at the auction by a guy from Michigan who towed it back home and parked it in his garage. There is actually a time-lapse video online of him loading the truck onto a trailer to him backing it in his garage. (Pretty cool!) He later listed it on Craigslist in late 2018, which is when I purchased it. The really cool thing was he didn’t even wash it or anything the whole time he had it, so when I got it it was just like it was at the auction in 2013. It still had Lot No. 53L on the windshield, about 40 cigarette butts in the ashtray, and a 1974 newspaper under the front seat full of Nixon-Watergate articles! It was a time capsule for sure. The bed of the truck was full of barbwire, metal fence post, and hog wire. I found a few receipts from hardware stores dated 1973-74 for concrete and fencing materials. I’m guessing the truck originally belonged to a farmer or a fencing company because if you really look at the bed you can tell the truck was used for work.

10 Engine bay of a 1968 Chevrolet C10 red engine teal body

Read More: A Lifelong Ford Enthusiast’s Full-Custom F-100 Shop Truck

CTP: Give us some insight on the build process itself.

I didn’t intend to do a patina truck, but this one had such awesome OE paint I just had to keep it that way. I wanted a certain look, which was as original-looking as possible on the outside but with all the modern technology in and underneath it. I started with a Roadster Shop SPEC chassis. I wanted an LS3 motor and the fuel injection that came with it, but I wanted to make it look as old school as possible. So, I painted the motor Chevy Orange, added valve cover adaptors with the Chevy script valve covers, relocated my coil packs behind the heads, then added vintage-looking exhaust manifolds and an old-school air breather. The idea was to clean it up under the hood and the interior but keep everything else original looking.

09 Teal 1968 Chevy C10 interior radio and gear shift detail

The hard part was what to do with the bed as I wanted to keep it old and beat up, but we had to build bigger rear tubs and a hump to accommodate the suspension raising and lowering. Hart and I were discussing it and I told him I wanted to keep the rust and dents in the bed but don’t know how we pull that off with all the new metalwork we had to do. He told me he had a guy who could match that patina if I wanted to try it. I said it’s worth a try—if it doesn’t work we were going to have to paint the inside of the bed anyway. After he finished all the metalwork, he sent the truck to Street Machinery/Patina Plantation for patina match. When I went and picked it up I could not believe the patina match—it’s mind blowing. If I didn’t tell you it was once a longbed you would never know it; Jerome with Street Machinery killed it. It is a piece of art, in my opinion.

I also wanted a manual transmission because to me nothing screams “hot rod” more than a stick shift. But again, I wanted as modern as I could get, so I went with a TREMEC six-speed.

07 Inside view of a 1968 Chevrolet C10 teal and white upholstery

All the dash instruments I wanted as original-looking as possible, so I went with a Dakota Digital RTX instrument cluster with original ’68 script and colors but with all modern digital features. For the radio I went with RetroSound—again, looks original but has all modern features, Bluetooth, hands-free, and so on. All the chrome trim was original ’68 trim from another truck. I had it repaired and repolished and I had to repaint the black stripe myself. I stuck my AccuAir e-Level push-button controls in the ashtray so that if I want to hide them for the original look I just have to slide in my ashtray. The seats are a Slosh Tubz Bench Buddy seat frame that match the original option available in 1968 (the truck actually came with a bench seat) to keep with the original theme. The ’68 seats were available in white vinyl with a fabric insert, so with that in mind my wife suggested white leather seats and door panels with fabric inserts. The fabric is not circa-1968 but it matches the interior/exterior colors perfect (I believe it’s from a late-’50s or early-’60s Bel Air).

12 Bed of a 1968 Chevrolet C10 with wooden floor and metal cooler

Read More: Todd Day Rebuilt a ’90s Show Truck Into a Modern-Day Cruiser

All the wiring/air lines I ran through the frame to keep them hidden; I put all the electronics, air/valve controls, and fuses behind the seats and built a valance to hide everything and cover it with custom, green-dyed leather that perfectly matches the 503 green interior paint color. You won’t see any of the modern technology unless you really search for it. Also, Alpine amps and (two) 10-inch subwoofers were all hidden under and behind seats.

04 Classic 1968 C10 Chevrolet truck side view near cotton fields

One of the items I’m most proud of is actually the first thing I did when I got the truck. I cut down the original 17-inch steering wheel to 15 inches. There was no one making an original-looking ’68 Cl0 steering wheel in that diameter at the time, so in keeping with the truck’s original-looking theme, I set out to make my own 15-inch steering wheel. I built a round jig and started cutting the original steering wheel down and resizing it. I had never done it before, so after I would say at least 100 manhours, mostly sanding, I have an original-looking 15-inch ’68 C1O steering wheel. Now when I show the truck, only about 1 out of every 500 people who see it ask me, “Where did you get that steering wheel?!”

By the way, as for the name, my wife named the truck “Sweet ’Tina,” which I absolutely love!

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of The Bigelow Family’s Patina ’68 C10.ctp march 2024

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