2014 PPIHC Pace Truck: Gas Monkey Garage’s 1965 Chevrolet C10 Restomod

Article by Brian Hannon. Photography by Joel Chan and Ryan Randels.

No doubt you’ve seen the popular show Fast N’ Loud on the Discovery Channel starring Gas Monkey Garage owner Richard Rawlings and master mechanic Aaron Kaufman. As hints were dropped on social media this spring, we learned it was one of Aaron’s dreams to race in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and they had started prepping their 1963 Falcon to tackle the challenge.

While talking with the event organizers, Aaron learned the hill climb didn’t have an official pace vehicle yet. He offered to have Gas Monkey Garage build something to support the event he was quickly falling in love with. He recommended a performance-based truck since everyone back in the shop were truck guys and they could bring one that was mean and nasty, Gas Monkey style.

The catch was the build would have an impossibly quick three-week turn around. Never one to step down from a challenge, Gas Monkey owner Richard Rawlings gladly accepted and set out to find a suitable candidate to flog up the mountain.

After putting out a few feelers, he got a tip from a hot rod friend who had a few options for Richard and Aaron to check out. The two settled on a pretty decrepit 1965 Chevrolet C-10 short-bed pickup truck. The original paint was faded and cracked, motor and transmission were long gone, floorboards were rusted through and it had a tree growing through the front bumper.

For those unfamiliar, the C-10 was Chevy’s utility truck with the "C” standing for conventional and the "10” designating it as a half-ton model. Of course, the Gas Monkeys intended to transform the character of the C-10 far beyond its "conventional” beginnings.

The only requirements the hill climb organizers Tom Osborne and Lincoln Floyd gave to the Gas Monkey Garage were simple: Be American and be cool. Fortunately, both of those needs fit perfectly into the Gas Monkey mold, and they were excited about the prospect of a blank canvas. Kaufman tossed in his two cents and said they "want it to go, turn, stop and haul ass!” The turning and stopping would be especially important as the C-10 would be first up the mountain setting the stage for the race that day.

With only 20 days and a budget of $50,000, the team definitely had their work cut out for them, and what they produced was nothing short of impressive.

With such a short turn-around time on the C-10, they looked internally to source the heart of the truck. Ample power and torque would be needed to get the truck up the mountain, and the GM Performance Crate 572 cubic inch big block with 625 horsepower from Richard’s ’52 Fastback was perfect. The biggest change for the engine was the conversion from carburation to fuel injection, making it easier for the truck to adapt to the continuous elevation changes.

The crate street motor was chosen because of its track record of reliability, something needed to make sure they made it to the top. Of course, trying to stuff in a motor that big with added components of a roll, a few fitment headaches popped up with the alternator and power steering, but the team came up with some creative solutions.

An American Powertrain Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-speed transmission was used to handle the power of the big block. The 6-speed would also help Rawlings keep the engine in its powerband, something that would get smaller and smaller as the truck ascended up to the peak. Getting the power to the rear wheels was left to Currie Fab and their Ford 9-inch housing with a 3.50 gear and a TruTrac Posi.

Safety would of course be paramount, as evidenced by Jeremy Foley’s epic crash in 2012, so a custom cage was fabricated for maximum protection. Even though it was just the pace truck and not running at race pace, anything could happen on the mountain and they wanted to make sure they were prepared.

With the cage integrated into the body of the C-10, they also didn’t have to worry about the cab coming off the frame with the stresses the truck could potentially face. Nothing would be worse than turning left with the cab tumbling off to the right.

Outside of the stiffening provided by the roll cage, the C-10 also received extra bracing from a Porterbuilt center frame stiffener. Suspension duties were left to a full set of RideTech coilovers.

While the race is only uphill, brakes are still of utmost importance. On the way up, drivers encounter multiple hairpins with sheer drops waiting on the other side of just a guardrail. With that in mind, Richard and Aaron turned to Wilwood Brakes for a set of massive 14-inch rotors up front, with 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston calipers in back.

Because of the short time frame, a full-body restoration was out of the question. However, the Gas Monkey paint guru, Kasey, loved the natural patina already on the truck and felt it embodied the spirit of Gas Monkey Garage. Some simple sanding and prep work was all that was done prior to clear coating the body. Really nice finishing touches were pinstriping and hand-painted logos of the parts suppliers for the build.

Completing the look were a custom set of red and black Forgeline ZX3P wheels measuring 18x10 inches up front and a massive 18x12 inches in the rear. The ZX3Ps featured Forgelines Flush-Loc center lock hub conversion helping to further the connection to the racing spirit of the hill climb. A set of sticky Toyo R888s encased the Forgelines with plenty of meat to keep Richard on the road.

Inside the cab the landscaping is pretty sparse, but that was the point. It was "Just built to brutalize and beat-up on,” as Aaron said on the show. You won’t find a stereo or air conditioning; only a roll cage, a set of Recaro race seats and some 5-point race harnesses to keep you strapped in. Besides, with a 572ci big block under the hood, why would you need a stereo?

The final product absolutely embodied what Gas Monkey is all about: rough, mean, in your face and able to haul plenty of ass! The truck was an absolute hit at the Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs before the race, and it let Richard tear up the mountain on race day! Not bad for the 20-day build of a once conventional pickup truck!

Build at a Glance

1965 Chevrolet C-10 Short-bed Pickup

GM Performance Crate 572 cubic inch big block
Conversion from carburation to fuel injection

American Powertrain Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-speed transmission
Currie Fab Ford 9-inch housing with a 3.50 gear and a TruTrac Posi

Porterbuilt center frame stiffener
RideTech coilovers.
Wilwood Brakes 14-inch rotors up front, with 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston calipers in back
Forgeline ZX3P 18x10 up front and 18x12 inches in the rear.
Forgelines Flush-Loc center lock hub conversion
Toyo R888s

Custom Fabricated Cage
Recaro Race Seats

Natural Patina & Clear Coat
Hand Pinstriped (including Gold Leaf branding) by Tanner Leaser
Decal package by Elite Auto Salon


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Great ride and entertaining show!