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1981 Chevy C10 - Homegrown

Instead Of Spending His Time Playing Video Games, Robert Perry Built An Ultra-Clean '81 C10

Galen Armenta
Apr 1, 2008
Photographers: Galen Armenta
When Robert Perry decided it was time to get serious about building a custom ride, he made up his mind not to leave the truck's construction to a number of shops. He felt the only way to make sure his ride was built the way he envisioned was to build it himself in his own garage and backyard, provided his parents would allow him to use the garage for an extended period of time.
Robert lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where there is no shortage of lifted trucks, but there are very few custom lowered rides, much less full-custom show trucks.
The truck was outfitted with air ride at all corners, using FBI's bolt-on, triangulated rear suspension setup, Chassis Tech bag cups, Firestone airbags front and rear, an Aim Industries engine-driven compressor, and 10 gallons of on-demand air stored in a pair of air tanks. Before long, Robert had a very low, bulletproof suspension, but the truck looked like a pile of crap: The '81 showed its years of abuse and was infested with body cancer. Robert recognized that much more was needed to make his truck stand out and be noticed.
After a couple of hot laps around the block to check out the new suspension gear, it was back to the shop (aka Robert's garage) for Robert to test his skills at repairing sheetmetal. His 8-to-5 is working with metal, forming and fabricating, building company booths and displays for trade shows. He figured that he would give it a shot. Just as soon as he started grinding into it, Robert found that the bed was in such bad shape that he would be better off scrapping it and finding a bed in better condition. He spent countless hours in the garage after work fabricating replacement pieces to repair the cancer that lived in the cab. Along with the repairs needed for the rust that the truck had developed, the passenger door was unbolted and the jamb reworked to allow it to swing suicide-style. The truck was also treated to a complete shave job and smoothed out in preparation for the eyeball-burning yellow paintjob Robert was about to lay down.
The fact that his truck was evolving before his eyes, in his own garage, was unbelievable for the young would-be custom-truck owner. But in order to complete the buildup, a slew of new tasks needed to be accomplished. Among these tasks was revamping the interior. Everything in the cab was removed, and Robert got busy building a new dash to house the Auto Meter gauges and a center console to hold the B&M shifter. These surfaces were then smoothed out and painted to match perfectly the exterior of the truck. Because the truck has a 4-1/2-inch body drop, the seats needed to be on the low-profile side. Robert found a set of clean, comfortable Mazda MX3 bucket seats for cheap, which fit the profile perfectly. The interior was finally treated to plenty of custom parts, including a billet-aluminum steering wheel, chrome diamond-plate accent pieces, and a few yards of new tan carpet.
The truck was ready to leave the garage in search of trophies all over the South. Clearly, Robert is 100-percent into the show scene. He loves to make the trek from his hometown to wherever enthusiasts are gathered to show off his handiwork.
Photo 17/20   |   1981 Chevy C10 sunroof
The 411

Robert "Big Rob" Perry / Knoxville, Tennessee
'81 Chevy C10
'85 small-block V-8 punched 0.40 over / flat-top JE pistons / Comp Cams camshaft / Holley 650-cfm carburetor / Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake manifold / Holley mechanical fuel pump / Mallory HEI ignition / flamed aluminum valve covers, oval air cleaner / Hooker headers / 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust / Turbo 400 transmission / B&M shifter / Optima RedTop battery
By: Owner
Front & Rear: 20x8.5 Alloy Tech AT-20
Front & Rear: Kumho Ecsta 255/35R20
Photo 18/20   |   1981 Chevy C10 tan Pleather
Front: Firestone 224C air springs / Chassis Tech bag cups and 2.5-inch drop spindles
Rear: FBI bolt-on four-link kit / Firestone 224C air springs
Accessories: Stock replacement shocks / four SMC 1/2-inch fill valves and four 3/8-inch exhaust valves / Aim Industries engine-driven air compressor / 1/2-inch DOT air line / two Chassis Tech 5-gallon air tanks
Chassis: 8-inch step notch
By: Owner
Body Mods:
Shaved door handles, gas door, windshield wipers, stake holes in bed, taillights, mirrors, upper cab seams, and antenna / 4-1/2-inch traditional body drop / FBI tailgate/roll-pan skin and LED taillights / chopped and stretched inner bed fenders / suicide passenger door / two-fold ragtop / Goodmark cowl induction hood / Autoloc forward-tilt hood kit / bed floor raised 8 inches
By: Owner
Photo 19/20   |   1981 Chevy C10 front Side View
Custom Paint:
PPG Mustang Chrome Yellow
By: Owner
Mazda MX3 bucket seats wrapped in tan pleather / custom-made dash and center console / tan closed-loop carpet / diamond-plate accent panels / Colorado Custom steering wheel / Auto Meter white-face gauges
By: Owner / Carl Brown, Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo 20/20   |   1981 Chevy C10 alloy Tech Rims
Special Thanks:
The guys at Hot Rod Barn, Brent, Randal, David, wife Ashley, daughter Izabella, and his mom for keeping him in line and out of trouble.



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