Clifford Hagle had always driven second-hand trucks and he was determined to get his first new truck in 1968. He decided that a Chevrolet half-ton C-10 Custom Group model with a 6-foot short bed was the truck for him. He ordered one with a 327-cubic-inch, 187 horsepower V-8 engine mated to a Turbo 400 Hydra-Matic transmission.
The 3,495-pound Fleetside pickup is mounted on a 115-inch wheelbase. Bumper-to-bumper the truck stretches 15 feet, 8.5 inches. Since this was his first new truck he loaded it up with a Posi-Traction rear end, power brakes, power steering, AM radio and air conditioning. The base price was $2,370.
Hagle did not have the truck delivered to his local Chevrolet dealer in California. Instead he had it sent to the Arrow Chevrolet dealership in Duluth, Minn.
Hagle’s son, Wayne, who was stationed nearby while serving in the U.S. Air Force, took delivery of his father’s Chevy pickup truck March 1, 1968. He drove the truck out to California in June when he was discharged. By 1978, Hagle wanted a bigger truck. He found a willing buyer for his old truck: his son-in-law Stanley Wheeler.
“During my ownership this vehicle has survived two teenage boys who were 10 years apart,” Wheeler says, “so it had its share of bumps and bruises.”
Wheeler explains that the V-8 engine was overhauled in 1980, due to a camshaft lobe flattening out. His father-in-law performed the operation. In daily use the truck survived many mishaps. When hauling a heavy Cadillac V-8 engine the tailgate was damaged and had to be replaced.
Wheeler says his sons, Monty and Joel, have many tales about their exploits with the truck, most of which he doesn’t want to hear. The speedometer, he says, “goes to 100 mph and my younger son says he’s had it up to 90 mph a few times.”
“In 1998, a cylinder went bad, so I parked the truck beside my house.” His house was sold in 2005, which necessitated moving the long dormant truck. What better time, thought Wheeler, to commence a total restoration of a family heirloom.
“I left the restoration to professionals,” he says. “My participation was parts locator and cheerleader.”
During the first six months of the project the engine was once again rebuilt as was the transmission, rear end, suspension and exhaust system. The next 14 months were spent with the truck in the body shop where the entire body, inside and out, was stripped.
The original chrome front bumper was replaced. The original rear bumper was of the industrial steel variety, but since Wheeler knew the truck’s working days were over, he replaced that bumper with a dressier chrome-plated bumper to match the front one.
When new the red truck had red wheels. Wheeler had his truck resprayed in the original red but, for contrast, opted to have the 15-inch wheels painted white. Small “dog dish” hubcaps highlight the wheels.
The truck came equipped, according to Wheeler, with three gasoline tanks — a 21-gallon tank at the back of the cab and two 11-gallon side tanks. Wheeler says he will be more comfortable without what he calls a 21-gallon bomb in the rear of the cab. Consequently, the main gasoline tank was removed during the restoration.
Inside the cab the red vinyl upholstery has been replaced. As Wheeler sat at the three-spoke steering wheel he thought the original black rubber floor covering appeared spartan. He corrected that situation by installing red carpeting.
Another interior upgrade made by Wheeler was replacing the AM radio with a new AM/FM cassette tape deck. With a nod to safety Wheeler replaced the small round exterior mirror with a larger, more useful square mirror on the outside of the driver’s door.
The restoration took longer than expected but was finally complete in April 2008. That is when Wheeler proudly drove it to his new Livermore, Calif., home. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters