Tough Love: 1972 Chevy C10
Three Five Customs' Garrett Brumley's 1972 Chevrolet C10 owes almost as much to his mother, Teri Lee, as he does. She pushed young Garrett to always do his best; even if he'd done something great, the impetus was to make it even better. Not in a harsh, angry, controlling way. This is more the tough love that comes from wanting the best for your kids than the insecurity that sometimes passes for tough love.
I mean, come on. The finished custom truck bears Garrett's mom's name for a reason. Part tribute to her memory, part inspiration to greatness, she's not just on the thing, part of her is in it: “I lost her when I was 19. She instilled in me to never give up and that good was never good enough. Is it good or great? Try to go better. That's what she inspired in me growing up. That kept me going forward, even when we had engine failure on the first motor.”
That all came later. In the beginning, Garrett wanted a stepside C10. He wasn't too particular on a year but he liked the 1972 with the tall hood. When he came across this one, the exchange with the owner was short. “I met the guy, saw the truck,” he says, “There's no way I could change it from what it was. It had rust to repair; it sat covered since 1984, so there was no haggling. I took it home as a basket case, then put it together in primer to figure out what I wanted.” Being an aviation nut who loved World War II P40 fighters, he knew what he wanted before he actually knew what he wanted. “I'm looking at the truck one day, and my son, who was six at the time, was looking at old photos of planes with me; he's going crazy, loves the shark's mouth nose art.” That cinched it!
World War II fighter art and custom vehicles aren't exactly strangers. They've collaborated before but Teri Lee's art is a little different, thanks to that drive for perfection. “No one's ever done a proper P51 inspired one,” Garrett elaborates. “I looked at it as a living thing with the mouth coming off the grill like you'd see on one of the planes. I wanted it to look like someone took a plane and built a C10 out of it.
Teri Lee also had to back up what her paint was saying, though. This wasn't some trailer queen project. It had to handle like a C-10 built from a plane (albeit without an airplane engine in it). Garrett gave it a twin turbo motor that now makes a claimed 979rwhp/870rwtq. The block was machined by Grose racing in Lodi CA then brought back to Three Five Customs for final assembly. It features a custom water to air intercooler designed to look like a 14-inch air cleaner. Garrett likes himself some manual transmission. Teri Lee packs a TR6060 trans with a monster dual disc clutch which helps to make it driver-friendly and fun. He basically “threw too much horsepower at it and went from there.”
Which is really an over-simplification. Three Five Customs could have thrown the guts under the hood with little regard for how they all fit together, looks, or ease of maintenance. But that ain't how momma raised her boy. He needed to do it right. The hardest part was shoehorning the powerplant and its associated parts under the hood and having it all be functional and accessible. “I knew we'd have to work on it. The concern was maintenance and making it easy to access and service under the hood. I tried to make it as modular as possible. That was hard to roadmap, so that we could pull apart relatively easily, like the factory would have done it. The radial air cooler is my design. It's modular and comes apart to service. We wanted people to see a sanitary installation when they looked under the hood.”
Garrett knew all that new power couldn't just roll around on any tread, though. He got a call from a buddy who told him Nitto rubber was the only way to go for what Garrett wanted: streetable and raceworthy. Something sticky that would drive and push hard into a corner but also be street-friendly so he wouldn't have to worry about constant wear and changing tires all the time. “There wasn't even a question in my head,” he says. “I chose Nitto NT05s not only for aesthetics but also because they had all the performance characteristics I was looking for. Everyone online had nothing but great things to say about them. I wanted nice, wide sticky rear tires that would do a decent job drag racing and could also go at the track. These tires blew me away.”
With a custom project this personal, you'd think the builder wouldn't let it go for any amount of money. And you'd be right. “This is the first car I finished that I really fell in love with. It has every embodiment of what I dug as a kid, my son loves it and so does my wife. Honestly, what I love most is my son's reaction any time he's in the truck. The smile on his face is what makes it. It's a whole family thing. Teri Lee is such a great tie for all of us. I every time I drive it I get flooded with memories.” Teri Lee raised her son right.