Harrison’s Rod and Custom Builds the Ultimate Giveaway Truck for the NSRA Street Rod Nationals

By Tommy Lee Byrd   –   Photography by the Author

The National Street Rod Association began giving away a car during the Street Rod Nationals event back in 1982. As you can imagine, many of the previous giveaway vehicles were cars, mostly of the early Ford variety, due to the availability of reproduction and custom parts in the street rod market. For the 2023 giveaway vehicle, the NSRA partnered with Harrison’s Rod and Custom to build something completely different: a ’77 Chevrolet C10 pickup truck.

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03 Custom 1977 Chevrolet C10 Pickup Front View

Read More: FARM AID

While this was certainly exciting news for the booming classic truck market, it presented more of a challenge than the typical hot rod build. Most previous builds were fenderless hot rods with limited amounts of trim and moldings, so the NSRA knew it could be a pain point throughout the build process. The upside of building a Squarebody Chevy truck is that it reaches an entirely new market than years past. The NSRA crew also found comfort in knowing that Bryan Harrison and his crew at Harrison’s Rod and Custom are GM truck experts. The small shop is based out of Greeneville, Tennessee, tucked in close to the Great Smoky Mountains, where Squarebody trucks roam the streets on a regular basis.

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04 Restomod 1977 Chevy C10 Rear Angle Shot

When Harrison sealed the deal on building the 2023 giveaway truck, he put out some feelers on social media looking for a starting point. He found a ’77 Chevrolet truck cab, and that was just enough to get started. Everything else on the truck was either scratch-built or provided by a long list of sponsors. The project started in February 2022 and the truck was displayed in unfinished form at the 2022 NSRA Street Rod Nationals as a teaser.

06 1977 C10 Pickup Custom Interior Front Seats

Part of the formula for this truck’s overall look is the stance, which comes by way of a Hotshoe Hot Rods chassis. The boxed frame features a Kugel Komponents bolt-in front crossmember and a custom C-notch out back for added rearend housing clearance. The front suspension consists of a QA1 system, complete with tubular control arms, sway bar, and coilovers, bringing the ride height down several inches from stock. Steering is greatly improved with a Flaming River rack-and-pinion, with custom shafting, U-joints, and VDOG angle gear to provide plenty of header clearance.

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08 1977 Chevrolet C10 Custom Dashboard Gauges

Read More: Loose Change

The Hotshoe chassis features tubular crossmembers throughout and a custom four-link rear suspension with QA1 coilovers. A narrowed Moser M9 rearend housing allows for a super-deep offset on the 20×10 American Racing V474 Gasser wheels, giving it the perfect hot rod look with 295/45R20 tires. Up front, 18×7 wheels and 225/50R18 tires provide a great staggered fitment to go along with the lowered ride height. A complete Wilwood braking system, including a compact tandem master cylinder and four-wheel discs brings the C10 to a halt in quick order. Harrison’s Rod and Custom also installed a Wilwood electronic parking brake.

09 1977 C10 Chevy Custom Gear Shift Close Up

Horsepower comes from a Chevrolet Performance 502ci/502hp crate engine from Gandrud Chevrolet. The big-block features a forged rotating assembly, topped off with GM aluminum cylinder heads. A hydraulic roller camshaft offers excellent performance and a nice idle quality through the Sanderson 1-7/8-inch headers, 3-inch stainless pipes, and Borla XR1 mufflers. Fuel comes from a Boyd Welding gas tank and feeds a Holley 870-cfm four-barrel carburetor, while a GM HEI distributor lights the fire.

11 1977 C10 Custom Engine Bay Custom Chrome Detail

Harrison’s Rod and Custom dressed the big-block in polished aluminum components from Billet Specialties and installed a Vintage Air Front Runner system, complete with a Powermaster alternator. A Johnson’s Radiator Works radiator and Cooling Components dual electric fan setup keep it cool. The engine’s surroundings are super slick, thanks to a smooth firewall and inner fenders painted in a matte brown finish. Behind the big-block is a TREMEC TKX five-speed manual transmission from Bowler Performance. A Ram dual disc clutch applies the power.

10 1977 Chevrolet C10 Pickup Interior Driver's Perspective

Read More: Jack Fillers’ 1971 GMC Stepside has the Perfect Mix of Patina and Practicality

When Harrison found the $200 cab on social media it gave him a starting point, but it was in rough shape. That’s where Auto Metal Direct stepped in with new sheetmetal to bring this Squarebody back to life. Ryan Akers handled the bodywork to prepare it for paint, which was provided by a joint sponsorship from PPG and Southern Auto Color. Although Squarebody trucks came in a variety of gold and beige colors, Harrison and crew decided on an alternative shade for the ’77 C10. They went with a ’62 Corvette Fawn Beige on the main portion of the body, an elegant color that gives the truck just enough ’60s flavor. The roof is painted in Adobe Beige, also from the ’62 Corvette color chart, giving it a subtle contrast. New trim was installed, and the tucked bumpers are a subtle change to the otherwise-stock body lines.

12 Custom 1977 Chevy C10 Engine Overhead View

An open door reveals a highly customized interior with an attractive mixture of colors and textures. Shane Lile at Sewn Tight Interiors handled the stitchwork, using Renegade Distressed hide from Apex Leather. Lile used the distressed leather for custom inserts in the door panels, kick panels, shift boot, and headliner. Leather is also used on the half-wrap on the Billet Specialties steering wheel, which bolts to an ididit column. The door panels and dash are dyed in light brown, which is complemented by a rich brown color on the lower dash and lower door panels. Inside the dash is a collection of custom gauges from Classic Instruments and a Vintage Air control panel. You’ll notice there is no stereo system in this truck, as the big-block provides the ultimate soundtrack. Additional interior details include Lokar pedals, Juliano’s seatbelts, and a billet shifter from Bowler Performance that is accented by a Billet Specialties shift boot ring.

13 Shop Built 1977 C10 Chrome Wheel Close Up

The build came down to the wire, as the 2023 NSRA Street Rod Nationals drew closer, but Harrison had the support of many friends, family, and his wife, Beckah, all the way to the finish line. Other individuals who helped include Gene Harrison, Josh Boles, Jack Fillers, LT and Isaac Gibson, Victor Stewart, and David Daggett. What started with an Eric Brockmeyer Design rendering and pallets of parts turned into a showstopping truck that got everyone’s attention at the event. The truck was given away on Saturday afternoon, with a crowd of more than 10,000 anxiously awaiting the drawing. The lucky winner was Rocky Earney from South Carolina, who gladly accepted the keys to this slick C10. A big-block, stick-shift Squarebody isn’t your typical giveaway vehicle at a street rod show, but it certainly gave the street rod crowd a taste of the classic truck world, thanks to a tasteful build by Harrison’s Rod and Custom.

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Harrison’s Rod and Custom Builds the Ultimate Giveaway Truck for the NSRA Street Rod Nationals.

ctp february 2024

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