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Hot Rod Magazine: Creations n' Chrome Chevy C10

March 26th, 2015

Written by Elana Scherr.

You know you’ve built a clean machine when the dyno operator who is strapping it down for a pull stops cranking on the tie-downs to compliment you on the undercarriage. Gary Watson from Creations N’ Chrome (CNC) is probably used to it by now. From Mustangs to pickup trucks, his shop is known for tidy builds that are ready to run, or at least, almost ready to run. When we asked him to bring his latest for some track testing, he met us at Westech Performance in Mira Loma, California, and unloaded a two-tone silvery gray 1969 Chevy C10. “I’m so glad you guys are starting with the dyno,” he told us. “We just finished this, so it doesn’t even have a tune in it yet.” After some expert work by the Westech crew, the LS-powered pickup put down 392 naturally aspirated horses at the rear wheels and Gary pronounced it ready for the dragstrip and a 75hp nitrous shot.

Before we hit the track, we got some backstory on the C10’s construction. The truck—nicknamed “Fine Dime,” as both a play on its model name and a comment on its “perfect 10” quality—was built for CNC customer Hugo Castillo. Hugo had asked CNC to turn his stock tan-and-white hauler into a head-turning daily driver with classic looks, but without classic-car wobbles and weaknesses. Gary started by stripping and powdercoating the frame while repairing the minor rust on the cab and bed. A Hotchkis TVS suspension kit replaced the stock control arms, steering centerlink, and all bushings. To get the right stance, Gary used Eibach springs, lowering the truck 5 inches in the front and 7 inches in the rear. Hotchkis sway bars, Fox shocks, and two-piece 14-inch Wilwood disc brakes completed the chassis transformation.

For the exterior of the C10, Gary wanted a traditional look that hinted at the non-stock nature of the build. He achieved that by keeping just enough trim and chrome against the two-tone paint to seem stock, but then shaking it up with the modernizing color choice of 2006 Corvette Z06 Cyber Grey Metallic and 20-inch HRE three-piece wheels clad in Falken rubber. To spin those tires, a 2002 Camaro gave up its aluminum LS1, which was rebuilt with a mild 0.550-inch-lift cam and LS6 valvesprings and intake manifold. It’s backed by a 4L60E and 11-inch B&M torque converter.

At the dragstrip, Fine Dime’s nitrous-huffing runs got it to the big end in 13.26 seconds at almost 106 mph. Like most trucks, getting the power down at the starting line wasn’t easy, and we never managed a 60-foot time better than 2.14. The pickup was more suited to the road course, where our test driver, Mike Essa, hustled it around the Streets of Willow in 1.38:14, which may not mean much, until we tell you that a 2014 Shelby Mustang made the same loop and wasn’t even a full second faster. Essa came in to the pits, saying Fine Dime was solid and neutral with predictable oversteer and good throttle response. Gary says the fast laps are due to a well-balanced package. “A lot of builders get so caught up in horsepower, they forget about handling, about braking. You need it all.”

HRM Staff Average Ranking on a Scale of 1 to 10, 10 Being Best

Competence vs. Purpose:

It was built as a daily driver capable of some fun runs, and Creations N’ Chrome had it at three different tracks over three days and didn’t even have to tighten a bolt. Seems competent to us.
Ranking: 9

Performance vs. Potential:

The performance is totally respectable, but there’s definitely potential for so much more. Engine builder Jerry Hovet put together a friendly, mild-mannered, basically stock LS1, so there’s plenty left in it for the next rebuild.
Ranking: 6

Dares to be Different:

It’s a track truck that’s still enough of a rarity to garner a good grade. Plus, we like how Gary kept the trim and two-tone theme of the stock truck instead of going with the more common smoothed and shaved custom look. The LS engine is sensible, but not radical, so mid-marks here.
Ranking: 6

Fabricated vs. Bolted Together:

Gary’s team is full of skilled fabricators, but he keeps the costs and complexity of CNC builds down by making use of available aftermarket components, so aside from some bodywork and clean-up, you could bolt-on most of the same upgrades without a welder.
Ranking: 5

Fit and Finish:

As we mentioned, even the jaded dyno operators at Westech Performance called out the cleanliness under the C10, and it’s just as tight and shiny all the way around. Every nut and bolt is matched and plated. “You could take the whole truck apart with three wrenches,” Gary says.
Ranking: 9

Cool Factor:

If you happen to be moving a quarter-mile from your current house, you can haul all your stuff over there in 13 seconds. That’s pretty cool.
Ranking: 8

Bang for the Buck:

We aren’t going to say Fine Dime was cheap to build, but the owner got a lot for his money. Gary worked hard to find affordable solutions and make use of quality aftermarket offerings, resulting in a hot rodded machine with a price tag way under the usual six-digit number that you see on high-profile customs.
Ranking: 7

Practical Streetability:

We saw the truck in track mode, but it becomes a comfortable cruiser with a seat swap, and Gary says the owner has been driving it daily for the past year, so full points here.
Ranking 10

Overall Score: 7.5

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