Todd Day Rebuilt a ’90s Show Truck Into a Modern-Day Cruiser
By Tommy Lee Byrd – Photography by the Author
The life cycle of a classic truck is never truly complete. One man’s vision of perfection may not stand the test of time, so it’s up to the next vision to keep the truck going. Sometimes ownership changes will accelerate the evolution of a classic truck, but other times a project gets stalled out and pushed aside. In the case of this ’63 Chevrolet C10, it has evolved a lot in its 60 years of service. When bought new this truck was expected to work hard, even though short wheelbase Fleetside trucks were a bit more civilized than the heavy-duty trucks at the time. But even if it lived a sheltered life, age creeps up on these trucks.
This truck was built into a show truck in the early ’90s, according to Todd Day, the current owner and man responsible for its most current rebuild. He’s from Paducah, Kentucky, and saw the truck sitting in a yard with a For Sale sign in it. He admits that he paid too much for the truck, which turned out to be rougher than he first observed. He bought it in 2016 and was able to piece together some of its history, including the fact that its most recent phase in life was a daily driver that lived outdoors for several years. This deteriorated most of the work that was accomplished back in the ’90s and developed some additional issues that resulted in a lengthy to-do list. Since this job wasn’t something that could be tackled quickly, Todd decided to tear the truck down and start fresh.
Todd stayed with the original frame but stripped it down to the ’rails and built it back with a combination of components from a ’78 C10 and aftermarket pieces. Ridetech equipment consists of tubular control arms, front sway bar, and shocks, while Firestone airbags from Air Lift take the place of the original coil springs. Todd retained the original ’78 C10 steering and disc brake setup but upgraded to a modern power steering pump and a Wilwood tandem master cylinder. Out back, the original trailing arms are still in place, but the springs have been replaced with airbags and a CPP panhard bar has been added. The 10-bolt rearend features a Yukon positraction unit set up with 3.73:1 gears.
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The air suspension offers a great stance and the ability to bring it up to a comfortable ride height for cruising. Rolling stock consists of a Schott Fuel wheels that measure 20×8.5 up front and 20×10 out back. The mixture of polished aluminum and satin black offers a nice contrast, and Schott’s Cover-Loc center caps hide the lug nuts for a truly custom look. Atturo tires, measuring 245/40R20 and 275/40R20, offer the perfect rubber rake to enhance the stance.
When it comes to horsepower, Todd gave his C10 a breath of fresh air with a 5.3L LS engine. Mitch Leidecker rebuilt the engine to mostly stock specifications but added a GM Hot Cam that features 219/228 degrees of duration and 0.525-inch valve lift, ground on a 112-degree lobe separation angle. Todd installed a FiTech fuel system, consisting of a Force Fuel surge tank and Ultimate LS intake manifold. Ram Tech handled the tuning of the LS engine, using FiTech’s software. The truck has an awesome exhaust note, thanks to shorty headers, 2.5-inch exhaust piping, and Flowmaster 50 Series mufflers. A polished aluminum radiator and electric fan keep the 5.3 cool. Behind the LS engine is a 4L60E automatic transmission equipped with a 2,800-rpm stall torque converter to accommodate the camshaft.
Years of neglect had deteriorated the body, but Todd was hopeful that he could weld in some new sheetmetal and bring it back. He said, “I taught myself to weld on this project and shape and bend metal.” While he had the welder fired up, he replaced the rocker panels and cab corners, and then filled in the fuel filler, stake pockets, and tailgate latches. From there, Jeff McAdoo handled the rest of the bodywork to prepare it for paint. After straightening and aligning the body panels, McAdoo sprayed the truck with Axalta materials, mixed in GM Code 72 Bright Red. Black was used in between the side trim and on the tailgate letters. Then it was the tedious process of reassembly, with all-new glass, trim, and emblems to give it a completely fresh look. New bedwood and stainless strips finished off the exterior.
An open door reveals a custom interior that Todd designed and upholstered. It features a Snowden seat wrapped in black and red vinyl. He sculpted and wrapped new door panels in a matching pattern. Dakota Digital gauges replace the original cluster and Todd chose a ’63 Impala steering wheel to replace the truck wheel. He used a combination of Kenwood and Kicker components for the audio system and then restored an original dealer-installed Allegro underdash air conditioning unit for even more cool factor.
Since completing the truck, Todd and his wife, Dianne, have been enjoying the newest rendition of this ’63 C10. We first spotted the truck at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, and we photographed it at the old Toohey’s Auto Supply building, which is rich with history, especially in Kentucky. Todd took home a truck award from the Street Rod Nationals, and then followed that with the Best Classic Truck Award at Holley LS Fest the next month. Even though this truck has lived through many phases in its life, the new vision is both practical on the street and ready for the show field. It’s a combination that took several years to accomplish in Todd’s home garage, and he’s excited to get out and enjoy the fruit of his labor.
Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Back in Action.