Jay Rusk Built this Head-Turning ’66 C10 out of a $600 Donor Truck

By Tommy Lee Byrd   –   Images by the Author

Before the days of intense aftermarket support, a truck build would often require some type of donor vehicle. Junkyards were great for small parts, but it was usually more cost-efficient to buy a donor vehicle that could be scavenged and eventually sold off for scrap. These days, buying a donor truck is a good excuse to start another project, and that’s exactly what happened when Jay Rusk bought this ’66 Chevy C10 for $600 more than a dozen years ago.

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04 Custom 1947 Chevrolet Pickup green with extended cab and open hood at a car show

Read More: The Arbor Camp Timber Company 1968 Chevy C10

Jay was in the process of rebuilding a C10 that his grandfather gave him and went to check out a coworker’s ’69 Camaro only to see a crusty truck sitting beside his shop. Jay’s attention shifted to the truck, and they made a deal on it soon after. Of course, when he got it home, he decided it was too nice to use as a donor truck, so he wanted to build a cool beater out of it. He spent several years picking away at the project, with a heavy emphasis on dialing in the stance, followed by tasteful details that bring it all together into a head-turning combination that attracts both truck enthusiasts and old-school hot rodders. Clearly, the beater philosophy left the conversation somewhere in the middle of the extensive build.

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02 1967 Chevrolet C10 blue pickup from rear left angle showcasing bed and open hood

Even before Jay dove into a full build, he had a particular look in mind that would require some extensive chassis modifications. He started by adding a C-notch to the rear framerails to provide adequate room for the rearend housing. Up front, he sectioned the front crossmember so the truck would sit lower and relocated the upper control arms to prevent excessive camber change when the air is let out of the suspension. Jay also modified the stock control arms and replaced the original steering box with a rack-and-pinion setup. A GSI Fabrication splined sway bar finishes off the front suspension. Out back, the trailing arms and airbags attach to a 12-bolt rearend housing that has been narrowed 6 inches. An AccuAir system controls the air suspension. Braking power comes from a manual system, starting with a Wilwood tandem master cylinder, which leads into a four-wheel disc brake system made up of stock C10 rotors and Wilwood calipers up front and aftermarket rotors with Impala calipers out back.

06 1955 Chevrolet 3100 bright red with gleaming paint and chrome at an indoor car show

A huge part of the truck’s stance is the tire-and-wheel combination. Jay wanted 15s and fat tires for the ultimate old-school look and he accomplished it with a set of American Racing TTO five-spoke wheels. The straight spokes and gray centers are a great look, and the 15×7 and 15×8.5 staggered fitment is exaggerated by an intense rubber rake. Jay went with 205/65R15 front tires and meaty BFGoodrich 285/70R15s that tuck deeply into the widened wheeltubs. Jay raised the wooden bed floor to accommodate for the sizeable C-notch required for the lowdown stance.

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08 1995 Chevrolet Silverado red rear and side view against industrial backdrop

Read More: James Hardin’s Delmo Speed Built 1977 GMC Sierra That Went Viral

Jay wanted a simple and reliable powerplant, so he assembled a 350ci small-block Chevy from the Vortec era. Cassidy Machine in Macon, Georgia, handled the necessary machine work and cylinder head preparations needed for a dependable engine. Jay added a GM Hot Cam, which is a hydraulic roller that features a 218/228 duration split and 0.525-inch lift in combination with 1.6:1 rocker arms. Up top is a smoothed aluminum intake manifold that is Chevrolet Orange to match the rest of the engine, while an Edelbrock AVS2 carburetor is nestled under a dual-snorkel air cleaner, which started life as a standard ’60s single snorkel. Jay added the second snorkel to keep the original styling in check with a custom touch. Another cool detail includes the original Chevrolet script valve covers. Jay fabricated tasteful breather tubes and placed them at the rear of the valve covers, so the script would remain intact. This allows the late-model small-block to have the proper crankcase ventilation without resorting to a modern-style valve cover.

11 1966 C10 Polished wooden bed in a red vintage truck with metal strips

Other engine bay details include a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine system to clean up the front of the engine with slick black brackets and polished accessories. The cooling system includes a Griffin universal aluminum radiator and Derale electric fan with custom brackets. Other engine bay details include Porterbuilt cowl-mounted hood hinges, satin black finishes, and button-head fasteners throughout. Behind the traditionally dressed small-block is a 700-R4 overdrive transmission. Jay added a shift kit and an upgraded servo for excellent shift performance, and he used a Dacco 2,200-rpm torque converter. Moving further back is a 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion that sends power to Moser axles.

12 1966 C10 Close up of a silver wheel with a Wilwood brake caliper

As Jay’s intentions shifted away from beater truck, he had to address a fair amount of front sheetmetal damage and intense surface rust from the truck’s unsheltered life. He replaced the doorskins and rocker panels and worked the new and old panels in preparation for a few cycles of block-sanding and primer. Jay used PPG DBC materials mixed in Victory Red for most of the body. He painted the roof and side trim inset white for an excellent, traditional look. All original bumpers, grille, and side trim give the truck the perfect finishing touch.

13 1966 C10 Low angle shot of a red truck with sleek tires and chrome accents

Read More: This 1970 Chevy C10 Has Plenty Of Memories

Jay used GM’s Fawn hue for the painted interior components and worked in a splash of Fawn on the smoothed firewall for a nice contrast in the engine bay. Rhoades Upholstery in Madison, Georgia, covered the stock seat in the original-style pattern from SMS Auto Fabrics. Jay used a stock steering column but replaced the original wheel with a 15-1/2-inch Billet Specialties Classic steering wheel. A stock-look radio head unit from Custom Autosound feeds Rockford Fosgate amplifiers and speakers, while the stock heater controls operate the Vintage Air system.

05 Custom 1947 Chevrolet Pickup green side view showing custom wheels and bed

Although the truck has been together since 2017, it still looks fresh and has timeless styling. The stance and simplicity make this truck the complete package and it has reliable underpinnings to make it highway friendly and downright fun. Jay handled nearly all the work himself with the support of his wife, Melissia, and a few friends along the way. He plans to continue driving and enjoying it—even when new projects come along, his slammed C10 is an all-time favorite.

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Jay Rusk Built this Head-Turning ’66 C10 out of a $600 Donor Truck.ctp may 2024

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