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Gone Looney

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Year: 1976

Make: Chevrolet

Model: C10

Engine: (original, 350cid, 2bbl Rochester) 350cid bored .040 over, 4bbl Holley

Transmission: Turbo-Hydramatic 350

Differential: GM 10-bolt with stock 3.43 gears

All right, as the third-generation owner of this truck, I feel it only fitting to be the one that gives it a 30-year review of its performance.

The truck is a fleetside, long-wheel base, C10 Custom Deluxe (similar to the W/T trucks of today for y'all that don't know). It was purchased in April of 1976 from the Chevrolet dealership in Greenville, Alabama by my grandfather, Clarence E. Gladwell for 3,300-ish dollars (still have the original bill of sales in the glove box along with the other related paperwork). Only one option was purchased on the truck, heavy duty rear springs, a $25.00 option that my grandfather did not realize he purchased until I told him some 25 years later. At the time my grandfather needed a truck to work in and out of and it spent many faithful years hauling firewood, cinder blocks, trash, and whatever else could fit in the 4'x8' bed. Damaged sustained throughout the years include the spare tire being removed via a tree stump while hauling a load of firewood, the passenger side front fender being attacked by a bull along with numerous other dents, scratches and "character marks". My grandfather used the truck constantly, and I remember many times riding in it going to haul off the trash, or pick up something from a hardware store, or pulling the bass boat with my dad and mom and going fishing. During the truck's first years, the only parts replaced were brake pads, brake shoes, upper and lower radiator hoses, heater hoses, belts, and batteries. No internal engine parts, nor accessories were ever replaced.

In February of 1992 my dad became employed with a company that could not give him a work truck at the time, so after acquiring a 1983 Chevrolet C20 for my grandfather, he "sold" the truck to my dad for $100.00. During that time my dad owned the truck, it of course recieved many other dents, dings, scratches and aforementioned "character" marks. Again, it served my dad reliably with only normal service and parts being replaced. In 1994 my dad "dressed" the engine up with a chrome timing cover, valve cover, air cleaner and engine oil dipstick. The truck served my dad until June of 1995 when after buying new tires and shocks, the company he works for was able to give him a work truck. From that point on, the truck was parked and used whenever we would go fishing, or needed to haul something of our own. During that down period, the alternator, starter and fuel pump were all replaced after the original parts served galantly for 21-23 years. So comes the third generation of owner for the truck.

In 1997, my parents purchased a Buick Century and tried convincing me that I needed to inherit their 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon (great car, it had no problems with it whatsoever, I just wasn't about to drive station wagon) because their first cars were station wagons. I insisted that the truck was what I wanted and I wouldn't settle for less. The Celebrity was sold to our next-door neighbor for her son's first vehicle and it still runs today. I then convinced my dad that during the summer when I could work, I would save the money needed to upgrade the truck since the brakes had never been fully rebuilt, along with cosmetic fixes. In April of 1998 my dad "sold" me the truck for $100.00, and we began our work.

Working in the lean-to on the side of the barn on my grandparent's land, we removed the bed, disassembled the interior, removed the engine and transmission, removed the doors, front fenders, hood and stared with a cab and frame. What started as a minor refresh and rebuild turned into a full-out customization and restore. First we built a fully custom grille, then filled in the side marker lights on the front fenders, the passenger side fender (yes, the one attacked by the bull) was replaced with a new fender from a neighbor that had one in a box for a truck he no longer owned, the front clip was reinstalled and shimmed back to proper specifications. The cab recieved a recovered dash in red and black leather, custom built center console, also covered in red and black leather, along with the cup holders, and facing for the stereo head unit in mohogany (my granddad does woodworking in his spare time, so we had plenty of "scrap" mohogany), bare-foot gas and dimmer switch pedals, and a set of bucket seats out of an Acura Integra whose front bumper and firewall had become one nice, fluid piece. The doors were finished and the door panels were customized and recovered in red and black leather along with the factory armrests being removed. As far as the stereo is concerned, the head unit is a Jensen 200-watt, 4-channel unit with remote, driving speakers in this combination: Front Left and Right: dedicated 1.5" tweeter, 4.5" mid/voice with tweeter, and 6x9 mid/voice with tweeter in the center console; Rear Left and Right: 6.5" mid/low in the speaker box behind the seat, 4.5" mid/voice in the B-pillar (right at ear level) with a dedicated 1.5" tweeter just above that. Coming off a 5-volt Pre-Amp feed from the head unit runs to a 340-watt Jensen amplifier driving two Lightning 10" subwoofers mounted directly behind the seats at about lumbar area (makes for the best damned back massage). Going to the bed, the rear quarter fenders were sawed off and custom-made units were installed to match the custom roll pan with six oval shaped Stop-Turn-Tail lights mounted in it (think boat trailer lights) and a set of fog lights were installed to act as reverse lights. The orignal tail light locations were filled in along with the dip in the tailgate that comes from the factory. The tailgate release handle and its associated equipment was removed and two stainless steel, chrome plated locks were installed to hold the tailgate up while still allowing it to remain fully functional. The spare tire was mounted to a custom-built rack in the bed. After all the body work, which totalled $1,265.00 of my hard earned money in supplies (welding rods, bondo, fiberglass, rivets, ect) my dad and I went to our local PPG ProColor paint store and found essentially a Pepsi can blue paint and along with clear coat. For the flames that run along with front half of the truck, we chose a high-gloss black base with PPG Prismatique over that to provide a color-changing aspect to them). On the rear half of the truck a simple set of red and gold pinstripes run down the bed and meet in the middle of the tailgate. For added flare, there are my three favorite cartoon characterers, Taz, Wiley Coyote, and Yosemite Sam are hand-painted on the tailgate along with the truck's name, "Gone Looney". By the time we were done, the paint, body, and interior work ran to the $1,900.00 mark, along with the first two years of work on it. The third year was devoted to the engine, with a Holley Street Dominator aluminum intake taking the place of the original cast iron (and damned heavy) unit along with a Holley Street Dominator 600-cfm vacuum secondary 4-bbl carburetor. A set of DynoMax full-length headers took care of exhaling through four 2.5" exhaust pipes running through Thrust glass-packs, with chrome resonator tips (the only work we didn't do was run the exhaust). By the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year (my senior year of high school), the truck was ready for me to drive it.

I drove the truck everyday until April 2001 when the original (and never had the fluid or filter changed in it) THM-350 started loosing drive, and upon teardown found that the clutch plates had completely worn (as in no friction material left on the main drive clutch, and not a whole hell of a lot left on second). The transmission was rebuilt by a close friend of our family that has over 30 years of experience rebuilding transmissions and it was strapped back behind the 350 in its slightly modified form and continued on for three more years. In February of 2003, the truck began to pour white smoke out of both banks and it was parked and the engine pulled. Upon inspection both head gaskets had finally given up the ghost after 27 years and 199,000+ miles. Since I worked at AutoZone at the time, I bought a Melling performance cam with 272/282 split profile that provided a slight lope at idle and much improved low-end torque and horsepower, the original bore pistons were replaced with .040 over Badger flat-top pistons, a High-Volume oil pump provided extra oil pressure, and stock size Federal Mogul rod and main bearings completed the bottom end of the engine. A Mr. Gasket chrome oil pan replaced the original unit. From there we moved to the top end, the heads were inspected and given a minor port and polish job to improve airflow, the valve train remained stock, but was completely replaced. An Accel 48,000-volt coil was strapped onto the OE distributor to provide spark to the plugs, and the Holley 4-bbl was modified to provide a bit more oomph, going from 600-cfm, to 670-cfm with the help from a Dremel tool and different jets. From there, the engine was bolted back together and placed back into my beloved monster.

Again, the truck was driven everyday until July 2003 when I purchased my 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, and then the truck was placed into reserve status and weekend-driver status. It remained a steadfast form of transportation and always a piece to talk about at the local custom car and truck cruise-ins in the Montgomery area until last year when I drove the truck out of the driveway at my grandparent's house, and heard a loud "Ping" from the rear end, since then the truck hasn't moved, and a rear-end swap is in order, along with a rebuild of the now 30-year old suspension.

Overall review, it proves that Chevy trucks are the most depenable, longest-lasting trucks on the road.

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