By:Chuck Belew
Photography: Chuck Belew
Reprint from Southern Rodder Magazine, October / November 2004


we all know the importance of a good first impression, it can often make the difference in a relationship, job interview and just about any other situation we face on a daily basis. However, once you get past the first impression, there’s the coveted “lasting impression”. Well, Gary Donegan from White Bluff, TN was able to capture both my first and lasting impressions with his beautiful, (owner built), 1970 Chevrolet C-10 stepside pick-up truck.
    Gary invested over 3000 hours shaping the country Cadillac into a prize winning, attention grabbing head-turning masterpiece. Also, he didn’t have to worry about the old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Gary nailed it on his first try. However, building a show truck was not Gary’s initial intent. The way he explained it to me went something like this… “I drove a ’71 C-10 for ten years. Shortly after I sold it, I realized I wanted another one. I didn’t intend to build it as a show truck, but, it just evolved into me.”

Let’s take a look at what three thousand hours and a water cooled Mastercard turned into for Mr. Donegan. Gary separated the body and chassis and began to strip the C-10 metal, (inside and out), with a wire brush, DA and several sheets of sandpaper. Along the way, Gary replaced both rocker panels, the cab corners, all the bed metal, frenched the antenna, installed

a cool gas door behind the left rear side marker, cut and finished a beautiful black walnut bed, modified the tailgate to swing open, (also has hidden hinges and remote operator), and fabricated a reverse forward tilt hood. After finishing the above mentioned body mods, Gary had Tracey Donegan and David Carol, (both from Dickson, TN), combine their talents and spray a perfect covering of Sikkens 3-stage Lazer Red metallic paint.
    The original chassis received the same TLC as the C-10’s cab. For starters, a ’76 Chevrolet front suspension equipped with Suspension Techniques 1 3/4″ dropped springs, Belltech Nitro Active shocks and Belltech 3″ dropped spindles replace the abused ’70 suspension. Outback a ’76 Lincoln 9″ differential spinning 3.70 gears is supported by Belltech Nitro Active coilovers. Stoppage for the C-10 utilizes stock Chevy power assisted disc brakes up front and Lincoln disc brake on the rear. A fresh turbo-automatic transmission equipped with a Gear Vendors over/under drive, 2200 rpm stall converter and Trans Go shift kit make easy work of the gear selection.3

Page Two


Power for the C-10 is generated by a 454 cid rat punched out to 468 cubes. The necessary machine and balancing was handled by Johnny Golden from Gary’s hometown of White Bluff, TN. The rotating assembly features a polished steel crank, balanced rods and TRW jugs. The deep breathing exercises are executed by a Comp Cam 292 Magnum cam opening and closing the valves in ported and polished closed chamber GM heads. A steady diet of 93 octane is fed through a 750 cfm Holley resting on an Offenhauser 360° rectangular pot aluminum intake. Supplying the spark is an HEI with a MSD 6AL box and Taylor wires. The noise and air pollution are

controlled with ceramic coated Hedman headers flowing through 2 1/2″ stainless steel pipes to a pair of FlowMaster Super 40 mufflers. To provide the eye candy, Gary uses a combination of billet and chrome accessories.
There were no short-cuts taken with the C-10 interior amenities either. Harvest Hills Upholstery in White Bluff, TN stretched and stitched black leather over late model power bucket seats, the headliner and custom door panels. A Custom Autosound stereo system, reworked original instruments and the A/C controls fill the smoothed and painted stock dash.


Page Three


Rolling stock for the award winning C-10 mixes Goodrich radials and Mickey Thompson’s mounted on Centerline Champ 500 series wheels. The front Centerlines measure 15″x7 1/2″ and are wrapped with 205-70-15″ BFGoodrich radials and, outback, 15″x14″ Champs are surrounded by 33×19.5×15″ MTs.

Now, with his work complete, Gary says “all I want to do is rest till retirement”. We’ve heard that before and believe me, sporting a beautiful bright red pick-up, Gary’s work, (or fun), has just begun.



COLOR: Lazer Red Metallic.
Sikkens 3 stage

ENGINE: 1970 Chevrolet 454 cubic inch big block bored .060 over, machine and balancing by Johnny Golden of White Bluff, TN; steel crank, TRW pistons, Comp Cam 292 Mag, Offenhauser aluminum intake, Holley 750 cfm Silver Series carburetor, HEI ignition with an MSD 6AL box, Taylor wires, Hedman ceramic headers, 2 1/2″

DRIVETRAIN: Stock chassis, narrowed rear section, ’76 Chevy front suspension, Suspension Techniques 1 3/4″ dropped front springs, Belltech Nitro Active front shocks, Belltech 3″ dropped spindles, Belltech coilover rear shocks, 9″ Ford differential with 3.70 gears, turbo 400 automatic transmission with Gear Vendors over/under drive, GM disc brakes up front, Ford discs out back.

BODY: Reverse tilt forward hood, side swing tailgate with hidden hinges and a power latch, gas door side marker, frenched antenna, black walnut bed, painted by Tracey Donegan and David Carol from Dickson, TN

WHEELS AND TIRES: Stock dash and instrumentation, Custom Autosound stereo system, black leather interior stitched by Harvest Hills Upholstery in White Bluff, TN

INTERIOR: Centerline Champ 500 wheels, 15″x7 ½” front Centerlines with 205-70-15″ Goodrich radials, rear Champs measure 15″x14″ with 33×19.5×15″ Mickey Thompson Sportsman tires.