(Editor’s note: With this story, we’re re-launching the My Classic Car series, in which we ask readers to share the stories of their classic cars by using the link at the end of this article.)
A couple of weeks ago, after 29-years of waiting, I joined the classic car club when my wife and I purchased a 1977 Chevrolet C10 long bed from a couple in Queen Creek, Arizona. Every now and then, often rarely, you get to achieve a dream and with the purchase of a 45-year-old truck I got one of mine.
I became a fan of classic cars, and cars in general, when I was 14 and my Dad purchased a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang from a classified ad in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. It was mechanically solid, with a rebuilt engine and transmission, but it needed paint and a couple of peripheral parts. I hand sanded the body to get it ready for a proper paint job beyond its gray primer aesthetics, and I was given a Haynes manual to install a larger radiator, fan and a new starter.
It was my introduction to cars and simple repairs. Any work I completed was reviewed and road tested to make sure I didn’t screw up, and for the most part my work was successful. When I got my driver’s license at 16, I wasn’t allowed to drive it under the rationale that a lot of horsepower is a bad idea for a new driver. My parents were right, as I destroyed the 1985 Dodge Lancer I acquired as a hand me down within six months of getting my license.
Time passed and my parents sold the Mustang, they rarely drove it, but I was allowed to drive it one time. During the Mustang’s swan song, I accidentally chirped the tires on Mendocino Avenue and received an angry glare from my dad. We cruised home in silence and the car was sold within a few weeks.
I was hooked on cars but there were fiscal realities. — I worked as a cashier at Blockbuster Video — and logistics, I was about to move for college. No way could I have a classic as a second car.
Life, marriage, birth of my son, divorce and all the rest made a hobby car a bad idea in my 30s. Time passes, the realities of life evolve.
A new marriage to the love of my life, a new career as an automotive writer and as I entered my 40s the idea of getting a classic car in my garage was becoming realistic.
My wife would send me links to cars she saw online, largely 1960-1970s American cars, but nothing caught my eye in the right condition and within our cost parameters. Since we were in no hurry, we could take our time and shop wisely. We had no grand idea what we exactly wanted, just a general notion It would likely be American and have a V8. We cast a wide net and searched.
In late January, my wife came across a Facebook Marketplace ad for a “1977 Chevrolet other.” It was heavy on details and had some great pictures. I immediately fell in love.
“This truck has had a down to the frame restoration,” the vehicle description reported. “The only original parts left are the outer cab, frame, rear end housing, steering box and front radiator core mount. I have over $23k in receipts. Plus well over 5k hours of labor. Truck currently runs and drives.”
The description listed all the parts and work put into the C10. It was a substantial list and the accompanying pictures on the truck’s Instagram profile showed that all proclamations of the truck’s revival were legit. An email dialog with the seller commenced and a week later we were in Queen Creek to see the C10 and take a test drive.
The truck’s owner, Jimmy, greeted us and went over the frame-off restoration. He did great work on the truck and his passion towards the project was evident. you might want to mention why he was selling the truck after all this effort. Vehicles are inanimate objects, but they become family when you spend a lot of time and put in substantial effort to maintain them. An hour and a half of car talk passed before I realized we needed to test drive the C10. Ever gracious, Jimmy gave us the keys and we cruised through the subdivision.
Loud, brash and well put together, the C10 didn’t ride like an old farm truck. Under the hood was a Summit Racing ATK High Performance 350 Ram Jet crate engine paired with a new Turbo 350 automatic transmission and a B&M ratchet shifter. With a flat matte black exterior, a cowl induction hood featuring a white center stripe, and with a lowered stance it looked mean.
The drive was brief, but we were smitten. After returning the negotiations started and we came upon an agreed price. I don’t think Jimmy was eager to sell his baby, his project, but life happens, and you must make sacrifices.
A couple of weeks later we picked up the C10 and Jimmy graciously gave us a truck load of spare parts. I thanked him for the C10 and told it was going to a good home that would care for it. The truck would be a family project to share our love of cars with my son, and a weekend cruiser due to its estimated 8 mpg.
After I picked it up, I drove to the ClassicCars.com office. It was a cold and turbulent drive with the truck’s windows yet to be installed (they were with the spare parts). My wife paced me in her SUV — the truck’s speedometer needs to be hooked up and I wanted to maintain a legal pace. She said I was smiling the whole way when she looked back in her mirror.
She was right.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be happy to drive in 50-degree weather without windows or a heater, but with my first classic car it was fun, if chilly.
The final bits of work are beginning: Install the windows, wire the gauges, some other fixes. And I’m looking forward to it all.
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