Ben Pike’s blown Chev C20 pickup – flashback

A two-ton truck that runs 11s - wouldn't want to mess with that!

Photographers: Brian White

Your first is always special. First love, first beer, first car. And after 15 years, Ben Pike still holds the keys to his first set of wheels, a 1974 C20 Chev pick-up behemoth.

“I bought it off my uncle when I was 15. I always loved Chev trucks; I wasn’t into cars much back then,” Ben says.

First published in the January 2007 issue of Street Machine

That was when Ben started his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, another sign of his passion for big trucks. Back then the C20 was a means of transport but these days it gets driven hard on the street and strip.

This heavy Chevy can storm down the quarter in less than 12 seconds — that’s not an easy task given the weight of the beast.

“It weighs 2250kg,” says Ben, “and the best quarter-mile time so far is 11.9@120mph – with a lot of wheelspin.”

For a big truck to run like a greyhound, it must have a lot of cubes snuggled under the bonnet.

“Everyone thinks it’s a big-block,” Ben says. “The announcers at the drags keep saying it must be a blown big-block.”

They’d do well to check under the bonnet; there are just 350ci of blown small-block pushing more than 500hp to the back wheels.

“It used to make 500hp at the rear wheels when I had the 4/71 on it but it only ran 12.8 back then.”

Now there’s a brand new Blower Shop 6/71. That’s shaved nearly a full second off the ETs, so it’s not hard to imagine that there’s been a serious horsepower increase.

“We haven’t put it on the dyno since it got the new blower but it’s got to be making nearly 800hp at the flywheel,” Ben reckons.

Big numbers but not impossible given it’s getting almost 25lb of boost. If it’s not making 700hp plus then we’ll give up our day jobs.

So why not a big-block? “It’s good to see a small-block doing what this engine does.”

Being a mechanic, Ben isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and given the performance, he’s not doing a bad job. He’s filled a four-bolt 350 block with an Eagle crank and rods, and used a set of Ross 7:1 forged blower pistons to fill the bores. The cast iron Dart 2 heads might not be fancy but they do the job as proven by the times.

In pride of place is the shiny new 6/71, replacing the 4/71 that was mounted on an original Weiand manifold. Before the 4/71, Ben cruised with another cool induction set-up, an old Offenhauser twin-carb Cross Ram. Those things are worth a fortune but it’s not sitting on the shelf; it’s on Ben’s wife Belinda’s 10-second Model A roadster.

Sitting on top of Ben’s blower is a pair of the short-lived ‘new style’ Holley carbs. Flowing 850cfm each they seem to do a good job but not everyone agrees with his choice.

“Everyone reckons they’re shit carburettors but they seem to work well for me I’ve got them on everything,” Ben says.

He’s run the carbs for years without a problem but how does he go running 25lb boost on the street? Well he doesn’t, and while changing boost might not be as easy with a Roots blower as with a turbo, a pulley change fixes everything.

At 10 per cent overdriven, the blower pumps a hefty 22-25psi into the engine but if Ben backs it off to four per cent over, boost drops to a more street-friendly 16psi.

“I run straight C12 at the track, and about five litres of C12 in 100 litres of PULP for the street.”

The 20:1 mix keeps things safe on the street where Sydney traffic can make intake temps soar.

Weighing two tons and pumping 700-800hp has got to hurt the driveline but funnily enough, it’s built like a truck.

The Turbo 400s in C20s were especially tough, which is saying something because the Turbo 400 is one of the strongest ‘boxes around. With a billet mainshaft and heavy duty clutches Ben’s full-manual transmission is even tougher and it uses a 4000rpm hi-stall to get this truck honking.

“Yeah it’s a big converter for a blown engine but it’s the weight of the truck – I’ve really got to get it hum-singing,” Ben explains.

‘Hum-singing’ is Ben’s way of describing that moment when he cracks the throttle and launches the Chev down the blacktop.

At the back you won’t find a wimpy nine-inch; a two-ton truck needs a truck rear, and the stock gear- a massive Dana 70 – does a fine job. It’s designed to haul weight around and with fully floating axles and eight-stud wheels there’s no chance of snapping an axle. Ben sourced a Lock-Right mechanical locker to help those big Hoosiers do their best to deliver power to the pavement.

To get 14in-wide wheels under there, Ben had to tub the rear guards to the chassis rails and the wheels were custom items.

“I need 16-inch diameter wheels to go around the stock brakes,” Ben says, “but Center Line didn’t make a 14in-wide wheel in a 16in diameter. The guy from Center Line put me onto another guy who widens wheels; he bought a pair of 10s to cut apart and weld to my eights. After getting rid of the wheel lips, this left a 14in-wide rim. With freight it cost me about $650 to get them made but it was worth it.”

So with 16x8s up front and 16x14s on the rear Ben’s pick-up has a solid grip on Mother Earth.

“The cops leave me alone because it’s a truck. I used to get hassled all the time in my 350-powered HR but the truck is different.”

So while there might be a weight penalty, the reduced stress of having a vehicle that works to a different rulebook has its advantages.

Ben plans to do a bit more racing in the future: “I used to do all the burnout comps but I don’t want to hurt it; I prefer drag racing these days.

“If I can get it into the low 11s or even high 10s I’d be really happy. I’ve just fitted a 300hp NOS kit designed for blowers. That should help!”


It’s not just Ben who’s into horsepower and the art of going straight – Ben’s wife, Belinda, likes to give the right-hand pedal a nudge too.

“I’m not quite as quick as Ben though; my foot’s not as heavy as his,” she says with a laugh.

Her weapon is a 1929 Model A with a 350 Chev up front and the Offenhauser-topped engine is no wimp; the little black rod has run 10.9@123mph.

Hot rods aren’t a passing phase either – Belinda’s had the rod since she was 17.

“My parents have always been into rods and I’ve always loved Model As, so that’s what I bought.”

She purchased it complete but the roadster wasn’t all it was cracked up to be: “It was held together with cable ties so we pulled it apart and rebuilt it. “I don’t race it any more because it’s gone 10.9 and needs a cage. But I still race Ben’s truck”

Ben and Belinda have a four-year-old son, Blake, and another child on the way. With only three seats in the roadster, is Belinda was thinking about upgrading to a Tudor?

“No, I thought about it but I’d sell my house before I sold my car?”


Colour:Glacier White & Monza Red
Engine:Chev 350
Carb:Twin 850 DP Holley
Blower:The Blower Shop 6/71
Manifold:The Blower Shop
Heads:Dart 2
Pistons:Ross 7:1 blower
Cam:Crane solid blower
Ignition:MSD Pro billet dizzy, MSD 6AL
Cooling:Four-row radiator, electric water pump, triple thermo-fans
Exhaust:Genie headers, dual 3/4-inch system, stainless mufflers
Transmission:C20 Turbo 400, full manual Converter: Converter Shop 4000rpm stall Diff: Dana 70, 4.11 gears, Lock Right locker
Wheel:1995 Chev 1500 pick-up
Seats:Retrimmed bench
Gauges:Auto Meter tacho plus six 25/8in gauges
Stereo:Alpine head unit, six-disc stacker, 6x9s and amp
Shifter:B&M Megashifter
Brakes:Stock disc (f), drum (r)
Springs:Four-inch lowered (f), two-inch lowered reset leaves (r)
Suspension:Two-inch dropped spindles (f), three-inch shackle kit (r)
Shocks:Monroe gas (f&r)
Rims:Center Line Cobra billets, 16×8 (f), custom-made 16×14 (r)
Rubber:Kelly 235/70 (f), Hoosier 31×16.5 (r)