Monday, June 20, 2011

1972 Custom 10

Just a Go-to-Work Truck
Text and Photography by David W. Temple
The 1967 through 1972 Chevrolet pickups are among the most popular trucks with collectors. There are good reasons for this – great styling and a comfortable ride. There was a time when the adage, “Rides like a truck,” was applied to a rough riding vehicle. Chevy sought to improve the ride of their new pickups introduced for the 1967 model year and their efforts resulted in a truck that did not ride quite like a truck.
As in previous model years, Chevy’s trucks came in a wide variety of types ranging from the light-duty ½-ton to the heavy-duty commercial versions along with the Step-Side and Fleetside types, Blazer, and Suburban. The one seen here is a 1972 C10 Fleetside.
Nelson Bates of Longview, Texas is the owner of our featured Chevy truck. He has owned it since 1973 when he traded his 1968 Chevy C10 powered by a six-cylinder to a co-worker. His ’68 and $1,250 sealed the deal. The co-worker wanted Nelson’s six-cylinder pickup for its better fuel mileage. This was at the time of the Arab oil embargo and long gas lines. Nelson believed he was getting a good deal for the one-year old truck. The long gas lines soon became a footnote in history so he was proven right.
The ’72 C10 or Custom 10 became Nelson’s daily driver while he lived in South Texas. In 1979, he moved to Longview where he had a nearby farm. His son, Todd, and daughter, Jennifer, learned to drive in this truck though it was mainly used to pull a 16-foot gooseneck cattle trailer. In 1987 Nelson got out of the cattle business. He then stored the truck in a barn on his farm until he decided to freshen it in the mid-90s.
Nelson traded an Opel GT for a repaint of his Custom 10. He was fortunate that at this time, GM began producing the woodgrained moldings again so he was able to replace the faded ones on his truck. Other than the repaint and trim replacement, Nelson has added chrome bumpers (the original front one was painted white while the rear was silver), a cigarette lighter (to use as a electrical port), replaced the timing chain, reupholstered the seats in their original pattern, and substituted a LMC radio for the original AM unit. Since its mild restoration, this 133,000 actual mile Chevrolet Custom 10 has needed only routine maintenance.
The feature truck was purchased new by a Sugarland, Texas resident from City Chevrolet in Edna, Texas on September 16, 1972 which of course was very near the end of the model year. It came equipped with a 350 4-bbl. Turbo Hydra-Matic, AM-radio, and heavy-duty radiator, and of course the red and white two-tone paint.
In addition to his children learning to drive in his truck, Nelson has other fond memories associated with it. He recalls his parents riding in the Chevy on occasion; in fact, his mother noted that it rode “well for a truck.” Nelson agrees. He says the 1967-72 Chevy pickups marked the “beginning of the modern truck as they moved more toward luxury. They rode exceptionally well.” Still, the popularity of these trucks came as a surprise to Nelson. “At one time it was just an old truck. I had no idea it would get any notoriety.” Well it may have been “just an old truck” at one time, but now it is a classic Chevy well suited for a story here!

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