Stewart Judd isn't your typical enthusiast. Nobody left him any motorized heirlooms. He hasn't owned any noteworthy automotive examples. He didn't keep his first car or truck. In fact his '68 C10 is his initiation to the hobby. And it was noteworthy from day one. A bit of luck led him almost immediately to a solid, rust-free, short-wide specimen, a rarity in his native British Columbia. "Not thinking about the area code I called," he begins. It was Sacramento, California. "Shoot, I was on Craigslist in the USA," he continues. "Long story short, after 10 emails, a money transfer, and broker fees the truck was at my door."
Now what? Judd explains that for the first year he sent the pickup out for bids. But after a Goldilocks succession of estimates a friend with his own fleet of customs recommended Harold Hopink at California Rod & Custom. With a name like that it had to be a sign. What initially started as a more classic build turned into something else. "The ideas and custom work coming out of Harold's shop had a snowball effect on that truck," he says, likening the experience to a kid in a candy store.
The cab and bed represent a smorgasbord of metal-shaping delights. Brad Purser laminated medium-density fiberboard sheets into blocks, shaped them, and used them to hammer form numerous panels. Such bucks turned out the foundation for inner fender panels and step-rolled radiator cover.
Hopink and his crew Derek Patton and Manuel Colorado finished the firewall, another hand-formed piece that lets the engine sit back 11 inches from stock. Like the radiator cover, it too sports step rolls, a distinguishing feature throughout the truck. A Kugel Komponents 90-degree underdash pedal assembly keeps the Hyrdro Tech hydraulically assisted master cylinder behind the dash rather than for all to see on the firewall.
Hammer forming also created the chin pan that Derek Patton, Manuel Colorado, and Hopink used to help transform the fenders into a one-piece clip. That pan also serves as a backdrop for extended and flush-mounted, first-gen Camaro bumpers. So too does the grille make the front clip one piece. Only instead of eliminating the turn signals with another set of upper grille bars, the CR&C crew hammered the flanges flat.
Larger Toyota FJ Cruiser headlights rescale the truck's nose. When hammer forming failed to produce adequate rings, Hopink had the bucks turned into molds from which more rings can be made and eventually sold.
Removing the hood's inner structure offered plenty of opportunity to reshape the skin's peak. An entirely original hammer-formed and step-rolled panel supports the hood skin from the underside. Removing the cowl panel for filling revealed three wiper-pivot holes, one a concession for right-hand-drive markets. The shop capitalized upon it by mounting the arms so they parked at the center of the windshield, "...sort of like how they did in the '50s," Hopink notes. A SPAL cable-drive wiper assembly makes it possible.
The CR&C crew also shaved the driprail, "A real job despite how easy it looks," Hopink explains. "The roof skin attaches by that seam so if you cut it out completely the roof just falls apart." Instead they eliminated 4-inch sections at a time to maintain its integrity. "Shaving the driprail makes the roof look really thick above the windshield," he adds. "So we pancaked the roof skin to make it look right." Welding rod bent around and welded to the door jambs keeps the roof from looking too nude. They dressed the bottom of the cab by shaving the pinch-welded seam.
A similar hammer-forming technique also produced the rear roll pan, a piece that extends to the rear axle yet drops out to expose the stainless Rock Valley tank. So too does that pan boast its own flush-mounted Camaro bumper. Just as the grille and chin panel merge the front-clip parts into one piece, so do the roll pan and tailgate make the bed one interrupted shape. In fact, the only punctuation are LED-backed lenses that Patton created for a pair of Fesler Built bezels. Hammer forming and bead rolling also produced the wheeltubs and inner-bed panels. The floor sits a few inches higher to accommodate the frame's kick up.
Speaking of frames, rather than build a modern truck on an antiquated foundation Hopink ordered an Art Morrison chassis. Rather than coils, RideTech ShockWaves support it; Air Lift's AutoPilot digital air-management kit dictates the ride height. Billet Specialties' Hiboy-series 20x8.5 and 22x10 wheels mount BFGoodrich G-Force T/A 245/35R20 and 285/35R22 hides. Wilwood's 14- and 13-inch rotors and six-piston calipers peek through their spokes.
The reason for the brake overkill mounts between that frame's forward rails. Lordco Machine Shop in Langley, British Columbia, built an LS3 for the occasion. It boasts a Callies crank and H-beam connecting rods. Diamond 4.070-inch pistons, when combined with Mast Motorsport's Black Label heads, yield a healthy 11.2:1 compression ratio. Rather than an aftermarket ECU, a GM ECU tuned by EFI Tuning in Abbotsford, British Columbia, commands the LS3. At one end the engine spins a Billet Specialties Tru Trac accessory-drive system; at the other, Gearstar Level 4 GM 4L65E transmission. Pat's Driveline in Langley links it to the 3.89 gear on the Tru Trac limited-slip carrier. A pair of Lemons' 13/4-inch headers descend both sides of the transmission to 3-inch diameter pipes, which route through MagnaFlow mufflers on their way out the roll pan.
As the rest of the pickup came together, and the major fabrication came to a close Derek Patton tended to the avalanche of tin-bending tasks that follow a major surgery. After Patton, Colorado, and Hopink shaped up the panels Hoping turned the pickup over to Metalcraft in Langley, who applied the Matrix-blended formula for Toyota's Magnetic Gray Metallic. Rather than plating the trim and bumpers Maurice from Rocket Cermacoat applied a brushed-aluminum hydrographic finish. Even the aluminum rails that separate the black-stained oak bed slats bear the design.
Naturally, the interior boasts its own hammer-formed piece, specifically a compound-curved dash. It mounts a Vintage Air Gen II Supercooler and a set of Classic Instruments All American Series gauges. Colorado and Patton minimized the electrical system's impact on the dash by mounting the engine's ECU and the EZ-Wiring 21-circuit panel on the floor.
A fabricated console on that floor separates a pair of Glide Engineering seats. It houses a remote-mounted Alpine head unit's faceplate, the interface to an audio system installed by Creationz Speed and Sound in Langley. The remainder consists of a Hertz HCDP5 amplifier, two Focal component sets (one in the kick panels) and a 10-inch JL Audio subwoofer in an enclosure behind the seats.
The crew reassembled the cab with Brother's one-piece side windows, Autoloc actuators, and a 14-inch Billet Specialties Throttle-series steering wheel on an ididit column. The crowning touch, '68 Camaro door mirrors hydrographic dipped to resemble the rest of the trim. Only then did Hopink send the pickup to Custom Creations in Chilliwack for black leather and Daytona-weave rugs.
Upon taking delivery, Stewart Judd did something uncharacteristic of most enthusiasts, especially those who just took delivery of something so pristine, something that took more than three years to behold: He drove the snot out of it. In fact, he drives it nearly daily. "If it's nice out I'm driving it," he boasts.
"I always told Harold I wanted a driver, and, oh boy, did he ever give me a driver," he continues. "Never owning a classic or custom, I looked at this truck as a piece of art that I could enjoy for the rest of my life.
Judd may not be your typical enthusiast. But based on the way he treats what most consider a show truck, the typical enthusiast could learn a lot from him.
Inside the Build
Year/Make/Model: 1968 Chevy C10
Owner and City/State: Stewart Judd; Langley, BC, Canada
Suspension: Art Morrison chassis, Ride Tech Shock Waves, Air Lift Auto Pilot digital air management
Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers
Engine: LS3 with 11.2:1 compression by Lordco Machine Shop, Langley, BC; Callies crank, H-beam rods, Diamond 4.070-inch pistons, Mast Motorsports Black Label heads, GM ECU tuned by EFI Tuning in Abbotsford, BC, Billet Specialties Tru Trac, Lemons 13/4-inch headers, Magna Flow mufflers
Trans: Gearstar Level 4 GM 4L65E transmission, driveline by Pat's in Langley, BC
Rearend: Tru Trac limited-slip carrier, 3.89:1 gears
Hand-formed inner fenders, firewall, core support cover, underside of hood, inner bed panels, wheeltubs, one-piece front clip, shaved driprail, shaved pinch weld, flush-mounted Camaro bumpers over roll pans, black-stained oak bed floor, '68 Camaro door mirrors, FJ Cruiser headlights, painted Toyota Magnetic Gray Metallic
Hammer-formed compound-curved dash, Vintage Air A/C, Classic Instruments gauges, Glide Engineering seats, hand-fabricated center console, 14-inch Billet Specialties Throttle steering wheel, ididit column
Stereo: Alpine head unit, Hertz HCDP5 amplifier, Focal components, 10-inch JL Audio subwoofer, installed by Creationz Speed and Sound in Langley, BC
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 20x8.5, 22x10 Billet Specialties Hiboy
Tires: 245/35R20, 285/35R22, BFGoodrich G-Force T/A