LS3-powered 1966 Chevrolet C10 pick-up

Andrew Cresswick's Chev C10 pick-up might look low 'n' slow, but it packs 540hp worth of grumpy LS3 to burn critics at will

Photographers: Ben Hosking

This article on Andrew’s C10 was originally published in Street Machine’s LSX Tuner #8 magazine

THERE is something super-cool about the resurgence of classic American pick-up trucks as sweet cruisers, gliding along just above the pavement on some big-inch wheels. With the right chassis and suspension mods they look sleeker than their designers ever intended, but they can also swallow big motors in their cavernous engine bays, making them a perfect base for a tasty street machine.

Running ShockWave air struts saves having to mount a bellows-type air spring and then package a separate shock absorber elsewhere. They’re also increasingly being used in cars seeing track time, so the old myth of air suspension only being good for low ’n’ slow cars is slowly fading

Andrew Creswick knew all this long before he bought his ’66 Chevrolet C10 pick-up truck and jammed in a hot LS3 and six-speed auto, plus new air suspension on brand new front and rear suspension. But he wasn’t initially planning on going quite this far with the build when he picked it up.

While it will now ride sweetly and be able to turn and stop on a 20c piece, the C10 wasn’t so flash when Andrew first got it. “The steering on it was horrendous; it didn’t stop, didn’t go, it didn’t do anything,” he sighs. “But I wanted something that was nice to drive and reliable so I can use it as my daily driver. It has climate control, good brakes, power steering and everything I need”

“I bought the C10 already on airbags and with a 350 small-block in it,” Andrew says. “But when I got it back and put it on a hoist I saw it was a bucket. There was quite a bit of rust in the roof so I had to air-freight a roof skin from the USA. The roof panel was $300, but the freight was over $3000!”

Andrew had the tinworm repaired locally, and can’t speak highly enough of the team at Joscar in Milperra.

“I got all the rust repairs in the floors, sills and roof, plus hand-made drip rails done at Joscar. Brian from Joscar is a freak; he is a proper craftsman.”

With the body made structurally sound, Andrew had to turn his attention to fixing up the bodgy suspension and chassis work.

“Initially I was going to buy a GSI or Porterbuilt front end from the USA, but then I saw Ryan Carter’s Magnum IFS unit at MotorEx,” says Andrew. “When the truck got up to Ryan’s shop, we decided to do a chassis notch in the rear and a four-link set-up, and then it just continued from there.”

The Magnum independent front suspension is the brainchild of Ryan Carter who runs United Speed Shop in Newcastle, and whose team is largely responsible for finishing off the killer C10.

“Andrew told us he wanted something he can drive, whenever, wherever,” Ryan says. “He came to see us about buying one of our Magnum front ends a couple of years ago, and as we hadn’t done one for this model of truck, he brought the C10 to the shop for us to measure it up and it developed from that point.”

Ryan has spent a few years developing the Magnum IFS concept and has plenty of experience cutting trucks and cars apart to fit his more modern, safer and higher-performance front ends.

“The front end uses standard chassis rails, in between which we’ve welded our front end,” Ryan explains. “This model had the old twin A-arm front end that was big agricultural thing, but the Magnum is a lot lighter and a little narrower.”

United’s Magnum front end is sold as a full kit with TIG-welded tube arms, new crossmember, rack ’n’ pinion steering, Baer S4 four-piston disc brakes, and the choice of QA1 coil-over struts or RideTech ShockWave air struts, with Andrew’s C10 running the latter for maximum impact when it is parked. On top of this, United set up the engine mounts to locate the LS3 in the centre of the engine bay.

The serpentine system on the front of the LS3 is a handmade piece from US company Drive Junky, and Andrew says it wasn’t cheap. “That kit cost $6000 landed,” he says. “My LS3 isn’t even a big-dollar motor, yet it is still a minimum $25,000 motor just in the stuff that’s gone on it!”

“The truck came with the motor already dressed to look like a vintage small-block Chevy, painted orange and with the Edelbrock throttlebody injection manifold,” Ryan recalls. “Actually, it was sort of built back to front as it already had the air conditioning and exhaust done, then we had to put the front end in!”

While these C10 trucks are large, heavy slabs of things, Andrew’s will have no issues keeping up with the Joneses thanks to the grumpy Gen IV LS3 up front.

“I always wanted to make the LS look old-school, so I bought the motor and ’box as a second-hand set-up with 40,000km on it, then I changed the intake manifold and throttlebody and put the old-school Chevy rocker covers on,” explains Andrew. “Sam’s Performance handled working on the motor, adding one of their cams and fitting Higgins heads, so it makes about 540hp.”

With an unlocked stock Siemens E38 ECU from a Gen IV LS-equipped car, the truck runs a wiring loom from Justin Stark at Ultimate Wiring Solutions, which United’s Greg Sheedy installed.

The C10’s three-seat cabin was never designed to have a modern wiring loom, air conditioning, engine ECU, air suspension management or stereo, so the United boys had a job packaging everything in. “There is a lot of stuff under the seat and in the cabin,” Ryan says. “And the original fuel tank is still back there, with an Aeromotive EFI fuel pump under the cab”

“We plugged it all in and got it running, but it hasn’t been tuned yet,” says Ryan.

The factory late-model ECU is needed to control the GM 6L80E six-speed auto, which selects gears through a Flaming River column shifter that cost Ryan and the United boys plenty of brain pain.

“That was a nightmare!” Ryan says. “It took a week to do that job, and that is what so many people don’t see – the hours involved in seemingly simple modifications.”

“I bought the paddle-shift kit and got Justin Stark to integrate it into the loom,” Andrew explains. “The coils are behind the dash, and there was a lot of time spent trying to make it look old”

The diff is the original GM 12-bolt heavy-duty item, which Speedy Diffs will have rebuilt with 3.9 gears, 31-spline axles, and a Truetrac centre by the time you’re reading this magazine.

“I like mucking around and I don’t think a single-spinner is really a burnout,” Andrew laughs.

The dials are custom-designed Speedhut gauges from the USA, and they have a dizzying range of options, as Andrew explains: “You pick the colour for the gauges and needles, right down to how they display in the day and in the night!”

Though it may retain the stock rear member, the original leaf springs are long gone in favour of one of United’s own four-link rear ends, plus that custom chassis notch to get the truck sitting flat on the pavement when Andrew airs out the AccuAir e-Level suspension management system.

“I really like that whole early-to-mid-60s-shape trucks,” Andrew says. “The main reason I built it was to take my two daughters with me and cruise around with. It has child seat anchor points in it, and they think it’s for them to go out to get ice cream with!”

Hopefully more trucks like Andrew’s help show punters how cool these ’bagged, brawny street machines can be!


Light Green

Brand: GM Gen IV LS3
Capacity: 6.2-litre
Inlet: Edelbrock
Heads: Higgins CNC
Cam: Sam’s Performance
ECU: Siemens E38
Fuel system: Aeromotive pump
Cooling: Aluminium radiator, thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom 3in system

Gearbox: GM 6L80E six-speed auto
Converter: Stock LS3
Diff: GM 12-bolt

Front: RideTech ShockWave air struts
Rear: RideTech ShockWave air struts
Chassis: United Speed Shop Magnum IFS, Flaming River power rack ’n’ pinion steering, United Speed Shop four-link, AccuAir e-Level height management, custom chassis notch in rear, Flaming River column
Brakes: Baer S4 four-piston calipers and discs (f & r)

Rims: Detroit Steel 20×8.5 (f & r)
Rubber: Pirelli (f & r)