You can never be sure of all the miles your favorite old cars have traveled. Any uncovered clue to their history can be fascinating.
Doug Evans and Gary Gehrke of Des Plaines searched high and low for a suitable project truck to refurbish as a father/son project. Two years were spent scouring for just the right hauler. The two ended up with a pickup that had been practically under their noses for quite some time.
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Their search led them to a 1966 Chevrolet C-10 Custom in Barrington Hills.
"The truck wasn't in terrible condition but it was far from perfect," said the father, Evans. "This body style was attractive because of the swooping hood and the flair of the chrome trim."
Tracing the truck's back story, the father and son discovered the vehicle had spent most of its life in rural Missouri. While the pickup pulled heavy duty down south, it passed through northern Illinois on many summer occasions.
"The owner used it for hauling his boat up to Wisconsin. It's fun to think that over the years it would have come right through our own proverbial backyard," Evans said.
After acquiring the C-10, the two men discovered some special items. Under the front seat was a World War II first aid kit. Original dealer paperwork was found in the glovebox. "The registration revealed the original owner's last name was Evans, same as mine," he said. "After all this time the truck returned to an Evans."
It didn't take long for the eager pair to start total disassembly. "All the components were very solid. There wasn't a hint of rust anywhere on the frame," Evans said. To help speed up the bodywork process, the truck was sandblasted in the family driveway.
"It was one of the loudest things we've ever had done but was a big step in getting all the original paint off. It saved us months and hours of work," Gehrke said.
The rocker panels did require replacement and while the front fenders had started to be attacked by the rust bug, the pair opted to weld in patches. "We wanted to keep as much original metal as possible," Evans said. The original wheels were kept but required a good cleaning.
Specifics on what engine was installed in the Flint, Mich., factory have been lost over the years but the guys do know a swap occurred during the 1980s. A 400-cubic-inch V-8 from a 1967 Pontiac GTO now resides underhood.
The 1966 model year was the first time Chevrolet offered factory air conditioning on the C-10 and this pickup has it. Power brakes and power steering are also welcome options for driving comfort.
"You could buy these trucks with just the bare minimal of options and features. They were made for hard work and not much else," Evans said.
Speaking of hard labor, refurbishing the truck bed required some sweat and elbow grease.
"It still retained the original plywood inserts," Gehrke said. "I had to cut out all 280 bolts -- I would know, I counted them when I removed them."
Polished oak wood strips and chrome bars were reinstalled for a showstopping look. All told, the project took just over three years to complete.
"So many of us have mundane jobs that you never see what you accomplish," Evans said. "This project is one where we could start something from the beginning and follow it all the way through to see the final product."