1968 LS3-Powered Pickup: A Pickup Built Around a Set of Wheels
The Paradox of Pickup
“When I was first fired up over cars, I couldn’t imagine a cooler job than working at a wheel place. Hell, I’m a middle-aged man, and it still sounds really cool. Imagine, you could get whatever was coming out before everyone else. And you could probably get it at cost! How rad would that be?
But the cynical grown-up in me knows better. For one thing, he knows from intimate experience wheels beget projects. Think about it, what good are a bunch of wheels if you don’t have anything to put them on? And I don’t have to tell you how expensive it is to build anything these days, much less build something just to show off a set of wheels.”
Sadly that’s the plight of Kyle Williams, who works for MHT Wheels’ Western Canada region, one of the industry’s leading distributors. His is one of those cautionary tales, one of a naïve young man carelessly dabbling in mini-trucking. This itself is a common gateway activity that afflicted countless young enthusiasts in the ’80s and ’90s and still continues to today. But Kyle is one of those fortunate souls who transcended his situation. Like many others, he graduated to early full-sizes. And his position as General Manager at MHT gives him far greater opportunity to build such a truck. So for the sake of wheels, he found a ’68 C10. Actually, what he got was a cab and a short-box chassis. “Geoff Paloposki started the work on the early stages of the truck,” Kyle says. “He boxed in the entire frame and entirely re-shaped everything behind the cab to make the heavy step-notch over the rear axle.”
He kept the trailing-arm design for the rear but used RideTech’s StrongArm version with a Dutchman 9-inch axle. “Geoff also fabbed a one-off Watts link on the rear suspension,” Kyle says. In the place of the front crossmember, Geoff installed a Scott’s Hot Rods Superslam front suspension. He also modified the floor for a raised transmission tunnel, among other things.
“Being just a side job, Geoff worked on occasional weekends,” Kyle says. “Geoff's work was very appreciated but I had to make the decision to move it to a place who could focus on it more often to get this thing finished in the next decade! Harold Hopink (California Rod & Custom) who I had known for more than 15 years approached me at our boys’ hockey team and said, ‘Hey, let's get this thing done.’ “Derek Paton, who worked there, was a magician,” Kyle says. Among other things, he fabricated a new core support and inner fender panels. “After seeing those, I knew this truck was heading from a backyard build to top shelf. The rear window got extended downward 2 1/2 inches to make it follow the rest of the glass line. The cowl lost its vent and the body its badges, side markers, door locks, fuel filler, stake pockets, and cab pinch weld. The whole bed floor came up for the heavy frame kick. The inner fenderwells got been widened, but the bed also got a second inner wall like a later-model truck.
Adam Egborg at Metal Craft Fab and Paint in Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada, shot the pickup in a BMW combo of Space Gray Metallic and Alpine White III. The body went back with mostly restoration-grade components, save the chrome-plated GSI door handles and California Rod & Custom housings that adapt 8-inch Toyota FJ Cruiser headlights to the grille. Consistent with the pickup’s new personality, the chassis went together with a few updates. Each corner rides on an AccuAir air spring. The company’s E-Level kit maintains ride height. RideTech adjustable dampers control the wheel motion. A Comp Cams XFI-series XR265HR cam pushes the warmed-over LS3’s output to 520hp. That engine drives a 6L80E transmission. A set of 13-inch Baer brakes scrub off what speed that drivetrain generates.
Brett Halbert at Creationz Speed and Sound, another 15-year friend, made the audio system. “I wanted no visual head unit, keeping the dash with the radio delete,” Kyle says. Brett obliged with a JL MBT-RX Bluetooth controller that connects Kyle’s phone to the rest of the audio system. The rest wasn’t so simple; Brett hid every part of a JL system, including an HD900/5 amplifier, two 10TW3-D4 subs in a custom leather-wrapped box behind the seat, and ZR 650 CS7 front speakers in leather-wrapped kick panels. “The kick panels are badass,” he says.
The shaved stock dash showcases a set of Dakota Digital VHX-series gauges and a Vintage Air climate-control system. An ididit column mounts a Billet Specialties Fury steering wheel. The seat actually started as two Glide Engineering bucket seats merged into a bench. “I started this truck when my son, Jesse, was still in Alana’s [Kyle’s wife’s] belly,” Kyle says. “I envisioned us three sitting in this truck, cruising, hence the bench seat and only one kid! I’d really like to say a special thanks to them for making this dream come true.” Derek Friesen at Custom Creations in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, trimmed the interior in Volvo perforated leather and the floor in Daytona-weave carpet. “Derek worked with me 100 percent on my vision, even down to sending me five different red-stitch patterns,” Kyle says. “He created the door panels from scratch, using his judgment, sending me pics every step of the way. He’s very creative and saw my vision. This guy was all about perfection.”
Only after the last terminal was crimped and swirl buffed was Kyle’s pickup ready for the wheels that initiated this whole project. The roller of choice: US Mags’ three-piece forged M-ONE, in one-off Lollipop Red, naturally.
We know it may sound cool to work at a wheel distributor. But as we explained earlier, it presents quite the paradox: Money saved on wheels gets spent exponentially on the pickup to put them on. Still, we mustn’t pity Kyle Williams. He chose the life of temptation, and it’s nothing to envy. (Just let us know the next time MHT is hiring, okay?)
Inside the build:Year/Make/Model: 1968 Chevrolet C10
Owner and City/State: Kyle Williams; Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
Front Suspension: Scott’s Hot Rods Superslam crossmember with unequal-length control arms and Fox-body steering rack
Rear Suspension: RideTech Strong Arms, AccuAir air springs and E-Level controller with RideTech adjustable dampers
Brakes: Baer 13-inch
GM Performance LS3 with COMP Cams XFI-series XR265HR cam Billet Specialties Tru-Trac accessory drive; Chevrolet script rocker covers on Delmo’s Speed LS adaptors, PRC radiator with 16-inch SPAL electric fan, Sanderson 1 5/8-inch headers with 2 1/2-inch pipes and 18-inch Magnaflow stainless mufflers
Transmission: GM 6L80E with Pat’s Driveline two-piece driveshaft
Rearend: Ford 9-inch by Dutchman with 3.73:1 ratio on Eaton limited-slip carrier
Body: Fabricated core support and inner-fender panels, shaved firewall, cowl, fuel-filler, and badges, rear window extended downward 21/2 inches to match side-window bottoms
Interior: Derek Friesen, Custom Creations, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, glide buckets merged into bench, fabricated door- and kick-panels, Silent Coat sound deadening, Volvo perforated leather and GM Daytona Weave carpet, shaved stock dash. Dakota Digital VHX-series gauges, Billet Specialties Fury steering wheel and ididit steering column
Stereo: Brett Halbert at Creationz Speed and Sound, JL Audio: MBT-RX Bluetooth controller, HD900/5 amplifier, two 10TW3-D4 subwoofers, and ZR 650 CS7 front speakers
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 22x9, 22x10; US Mags three-piece forged M-ONE
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero Nero 255/30ZR22 and 305/30ZR22