Our Ultimate K10’s worst feature is its body, which resembles an oversized, recycling-ready, crushed aluminum can. First glances often provoke gag reflexes. But this beast’s beauty is beneath the skin. (Many might argue that the rock-sculpted body panels are more aesthetically pleasing than the stock bodylines.)
To bring nonsubscribers up to speed, we laid out our game plan in the May ’11 issue: keep what ain’t broke, fix what we must, and run the good-enough parts until they die. We’re also going softer-core. Instead of rebuilding the truck to once again be a hardcore crawler on 39s, this version will be more mellow. It’ll tow a trailer to remote places, or can go solo and explore moderate trails while having plenty of gearing and lockers in reserve to get out of any tricky situations.
One main reason we decided to revive instead of part out or start over is that classic Chevy pickup parts are readily available and relatively affordable. We browsed through an LMC Truck catalog and found basically everything required to make this Stepside stellar again. In some instances both OE and reproduction parts are available from LMC. Since this is as much of a budget build as we can make it and still attempt to hold people’s attention, we went repro whenever possible. After all, the truck will eventually get scratched again.
Henrik “El Jeffe” Hairapetian and his crew at GM Truck Center, our project HQ, likely replace body panels even in their sleep—they seem to dream about clean, custom trucks. In fact, they massaged this truck’s metal six years ago when it had camo paint and was actually in worse shape than we returned it to them recently.
This installment is just a primer for greater things to come. Next time, we’ll hang the springs and axles, then see how much sheetmetal must be arched to fit 37s with only a 4-inch lift.
The Ultimate K10 shed its skin like a molting snake. More than one expert thought that the whole vehicle should be trashed.
End of an era: The K10’s original yellow sheetmetal lives on as industrial art. It’s on display at GM Truck Center (no admission fee).
Stripped and ready: GM Truck Center removed the bent metal, revealing the reasons this truck is worth reviving.
LMC Truck is an affordable source for replacement parts—almost everything necessary to revive the K10 is still available. Here’s a fraction of the parts necessary to straighten out our Stepside.
Replacing body panels is a lot easier than attempting to straighten crumpled ones. Still, the cab will need a decent amount of pulling and patching. (The cage and rockrails are integrated, so we’re keeping this cockpit.)
Repro body parts don’t always have the same manufacturing tolerances as OE (which are far from aircraft precision themselves). GM Truck Center’s Richard Labrier massaged the steps to get the bodylines pretty perfect.
Door shells from LMC Truck were hung on the existing hinges. (Replacement hinges are also available.) The glass and hardware will be swapped over after paint, and new weatherstripping will be added.
The previous aftermarket Reflexion cowl hood looked good. This time, though, we decided to go for simplicity and maximize driver vision with a stock replacement LMC hood. The old hinges had to be replaced in the process.
Tire and wheel preview: As part of the resto-’70s/modern-tech appeal, we picked, uh, classic Mickey Thompson Classic II wheels, although in a modern 17x9 size. The 37x12.50-17 Mickey Thompson MTZs (complete with old-school Sidebiter sidewall tread) will fit with a 4-inch lift and moderate fender-trimming. (GM Truck Center’s opinion is that IFS-inspired, negative-offset wheels don’t look quite right on classic leaf-sprung trucks.)
The doors, hood, and fenders are now straight. Bodywork on the cab and paint are next. Or will it be axles and suspension? Tune in next time to find out.
LMC Truck Parts List
30-1822 Hood bumper, side
30-1824 Hood bumper, front
30-3804 Hood brace kit
38-7510 Insulator, hood panel
30-2010 Retainer, insulator
30-0073 Bolt kit, hinge (10pc) 30-1820 Door bumper
38-6593 Door striker
38-9558-T Front fender, LH
38-9559-T Front fender, RH
38-9130-T Door shell, LH
38-9131-T Door shell, RH
30-0172 Step hardware kit
38-7240 Bed step, LH
38-7241 Bed step, RH
38-7370 Bed step hanger, LH
38-7371 Bed step hanger, RH
38-9548-T Rear fender, LH
38-7400 Lower grille panel