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Rod Parsons' Fully Custom 1967 ZL1 C10 Pickup was Featured at the 2016 SEMA Show

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Originally a Subaru color, Desert Khaki was tweaked by the truck owner to achieve his vision

Finished in Desert Khaki, the ZL1 C10 stuns with its subtle yet attention-grabbing prescence

Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose and you don’t even know it. Take the example of Rod Parsons, from Ripley, West Virginia. Through friends, he met Greg Killen of The Project Shop. Despite owning a couple of collision repair facilities of his own, he took his re-restored 1967 Corvette a few hundred miles to Greg to paint, not wanting to pull one of his crew off paying work.

While at The Project Shop he noticed a dilapidated 1967 Chevrolet C10 pickup Greg had bought to fix and sell quickly. After a few years, the timing seemed right. Greg hadn’t gotten anywhere on the truck and Rod decided to buy it off of him as the basis for his next project. That was about three years ago.

When Rod was going through the paperwork for the truck, he found that it had been pulled out of a salvage yard in his hometown of Ripley (believe it or not). The truck had sat, right under his nose, not more than a mile or two from his shops, in the same little town of 3,256 inhabitants. Go figure.

The suspension clearly communicates the truck as ready for an autocross as a truck show

The rear suspension looks very NASCAR with a 9" rear, coilovers, adjustable roll bar and disc brakes

So began the task of building the perfect show truck. Rod has been building and modifying his cars for 40 years and his resume includes, among others, a 1941 Willys truck, a 1933 Ford Five Window, and a 1967 Nova, so he knows what he likes. Asked why he was willing to invest so much into the ZL1 C10, he responded “I’ve built cars my whole life. I’ve had a lot of nice rides but have always wanted to build one just right.” So he enlisted Greg and The Project Shop to build out his dream.

Since what Rod bought was really just a cab and a chassis, the first thing they did was to discard the outdated chassis. In its place is a No Limit Engineering frame with No Limit independent front suspension carrying RideTech coilovers and a Flaming River race-spec rack and pinion.

At the rear is a nine-inch Moser rear axle with 3.70 gears and an Autotech WAVETRAC diff, connected to the chassis via a No Limit four-bar linkage with RideTech coilovers. To keep everything under control Speedway NASCAR-type adjustable anti-roll bars round out the suspension.

The carbon fiber ZL1 hood scoop feeds intake air into the K&N panel air filter

The carbon fiber ZL1 hood scoop has been grafted onto the C10 steel hood and is fully operational

Powering the truck is a 6.2L V8 Chevrolet Performance LSA crate engine, which is a version of the motor in the Gen 5 Camaro. Straight out of the crate the engine produces 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque – plenty of power to push the ZL1 C10 down the street or around the track. Despite the fact that the LSA is a crate motor, it’s manufactured with the same reinforced aluminum cylinder block casting, forged steel crankshaft supported by six-bolt mains, powdered metal rods, and aluminum pistons as the mighty Camaro motor. The engine was installed four inches rearward in the chassis to improve handling.

It also features L92 high-flow cylinder heads that support the airflow drawn through the K&N panel air filter cleverly mounted to capture incoming air through the hood scoop. Said scoop is actually a carbon fiber ZL1 hood grafted onto the C10 steel hood. The panel filter itself is a K&N 33-2035 for the ZR1 Corvette. The filter was chosen as its shape was a better fit. The air coming through is then passed off to the Eaton EVS 1.9L supercharger. Bolted up to the motor is a Chevrolet Performance Supermatic 4L85E four-speed automatic, selected for its ability to handle the LSA’s diesel-like 551 lb-ft of torque.

The Chevrolet LSA engine is fed clean air from a custom mounted K&N 33-2035

The Chevrolet LSA engine is fed clean air from a custom mounted K&N 33-2035

Wheels are from B-Forged, sized 20x10-inch up front and 20x12-inch in the rear, with custom ZL1 C10 center caps. Tires are grippy 295/40R20 and 335/40R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sports, with 14-inch front and rear rotors with six-piston calipers front and four-piston units out back, all from Wilwood, bringing this enterprise to a quick stop when needed.

But while suspension components and engine specs are impressive, it’s the attention to detail that’s been put into this truck that truly sets it apart. Owner Rod Parsons says he lost numerous nights’ sleep worrying over the details. To him, the components of the truck that the eye can see are even more important than what was hidden underneath, and that’s a tall order.

A K&N panel filter from a ZR1 Corvette is utilized to best fit the available space

Fresh intake air is drawn through the ZL1 hood, through the K&N panel filter, and on to the blower

What first grabs your attention, from one hundred feet away or more, is the color. It started out as a color called Desert Khaki, which was tweaked by Rod to meet his vision of how the truck should appear.

Now while Rod is obsessive, like insisting on aerospace-type 12-point stainless steel fasteners be used throughout the vehicle, he’s not necessarily brand loyal. He’s selected items that will work best on the truck and not just from one brand or company’s catalog. For example, a Ford-style rear end is one tip-off, but here are a few more: the paint color came originally from Subaru, for which they won the Color Grand Prix in Japan. The seats are from a Pontiac G8, the outside mirrors are from a Ford Mustang, the air filter from a ZR-1 Corvette, the door handles from a Chevrolet Equinox, just to name a few.

The gray of the wheel center is carried through the interior as an accent color

The wheels are B-Forged, sized 20”x10” up front and 20”x12” out back with custom ZL1 C10 center caps

Look too for how many ZL1 C10 logos you can find on the truck. They’re on the center caps for the wheels, the steering wheel hub, tailgate, and more. Rod even commissioned a custom blower hat and valve covers from C. Cook Enterprises with the ZL1 C10 logo.

The gray of the wheel centers perfectly contrasts with the painted sheet metal. Further, that same gray was carried into the interior of the ZL1 C10 to interlink the interior with the exterior of the truck. Inside, the factory dashboard was reinstalled with two inches more rake, making the gauges easier to read. A custom-made billet replica of the original instrument panel, painted body color, houses Auto Cross gauges from Classic Instruments. Credit goes to Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto Custom Interiors for the implementation of the interior, including pulling the gray of the wheel centers into the cab as an accent color.

Nothing has been left untouched in the interior, adding modern comforts and conveniences

The dash has been angled for better viewing, with a billet instrument panel housing the gauges

While the exterior of the truck may appear largely stock, even from certain angles up close, nothing could be further from the truth. The front bumper has been narrowed, with a chin spoiler beneath. Front and rear glass has been flush-mounted and side windows replaced with one-piece glass, eliminating the vent windows.

All hardware was removed from the bed and the entire assembly was welded, filled, and reassembled, which now presents a completely clean look. FYI, over 150 feet of weld was required to hang the bed together. The bed floor was raised four inches and the width of the rear wheel arches was increased by 2.5” on each side to accommodate the 335mm section width tires. The tailgate was filled and the release moved inside the bed. Beneath it the bodywork is rolled into a diffuser, and hanging on for dear life at the top of the tailgate is a NASCAR-like rear spoiler that communicates to anyone within range that this truck is as much for go as it is for show.

The truck bed alone is a work of art, with over 150 feet of welds required to remove all fasteners

The bed floor has been raised 2", the wheel tubs widened, and all bolts removed, welded, and filled

Greg Killen of The Project Shop built the truck and is responsible for most of the custom fabrication, including the engine bay’s custom intake to pull air in from the ZL1 C10 hybrid hood and thru the K&N 33-2035 panel filter.

Rod credits Ralph Whisenhunt for working with Greg and keeping the project moving, and WD Moore for figuring out how to wire modern systems into a 50-year-old truck. Rod largely credits Greg for the success of the project. “I feel Greg’s multiple talents, workmanship, and our vision has produced a one-of-a-kind special truck.” All the effort has been recognized by the company that built the C10 in the first place. At the 2016 SEMA Show, the ZL1 C10 was honored with a GM Design Award.

Photos courtesy Classic Trucks Magazine


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