Story and photos by Brian Earnest
Nick Dassow did not provide a great deal of consideration to the rarity of his “basket case” 1968 Chevrolet pickup if he purchased it 20 years past. He was only a teenage car man searching for some thing to do.
“I was in tech school and I was always into old cars and trucks. The price was right. They were asking $1200, and I decided it was something I could do. I bit,” chuckles Dassow, a resident of Port Edwards, Wis. “I went out and looked and it and said, ‘Yup, I gotta have that truck!’”
This disassembled Chevy was really a fairly odd bird — a four-wheel-drive K10 model constructed with a step-side box onto the brief chassis. Only 1706 such cases were assembled for its 1968 version year — a period when four-wheel-drive light-duty trucks were a little oddity. By contrast, Chevrolet assembled greater than 46,000 two-wheel-drive variations of its Step-Side and Fleetside shortbox trucks for’68. Dassow was not really searching for a rare collector truck, however. He was only searching for a truck to perform teenager items — bang round and get filthy.
“At first I just wanted something to go run through the mud. I wanted to put bucket seats in it and do all this stuff … But I had some friends who said, ‘Well, this is a pretty nice truck, you should keep the bench seats in it and keep it pretty much stock,” recalls Dassow. “So I thought, ‘Well, that’s an idea, too. And that was a little more practical, too, for something I was going to drive. So that’s what I tried to do. I tried to keep it pretty much stock, or at least period correct, with a couple twists on some things.”
Regardless of that course he took the truck — inventory, sand buggy or something in between — Dassow was likely to have a struggle. The K10 hadn’t run in years and has been nowhere near ready to push.
“It was kind of an abandoned project. The guy I bought it from had it in boxes and he had a couple of kids and was just never going to get to it,” Dassow states ) “He did not have enough opportunity to see throughout the vision of everything he wished to perform with the truck. I had been 19-ish and this was before societal websites or Craigslist and you had to search at the Buyer’s Guide to locate stuff available. This truck came up and I had only sold a vehicle, so that I had some excess cash. This could have been in early 2000. The ad said it had been a’68 Chevy ‘project’ truck. It stated it had a western figure and it had been but it was mainly there. I had to convince my dad to allow me to tow it home, with a different pickup truck load full of elements at the trunk. And we got it all house and I started in on it.
“It’s a first four-wheel-drive shortbox step-side truck. It started out life in Madison [Wis.] as a DNR truck. Underneath the first ashtray, should you reverse that upside-down it has got a stamp on the market which states Department of Natural Resources along with a fleet number. The body that he had obtained from somewhere out west. The first body has been fairly consumed, being from Wisconsin along with the rust as well as everything. The framework and running gear remains all-original into the truck. It had a few miles on it, a great deal of tear and wear, so it had to come .”
THE C/K SERIES TURNS A CORNER
Chevrolet’s hugely popular C/K Series light-duty trucks were entering their eighth period when they had been awarded their first huge overhaul. The 1967 traditional trucks were clarified by Chevrolet as owning “the most significant cab and sheet metal styling changes in Chevrolet history.” The brand new styling revealed the significance of an attractive look in the light-duty truck area, as an increasing number of trucks were bought for individual transport and camper usage.
The important styling topics on the pickup combined an interior slant over the beltline using a side feature line evenly dividing the wheel wells. The new taxi was reduced with increased glass area with a fresh rigid roof designed for additional strength. The front end had solitary headlamps shining into square bezels in the conclusion of one broad centre pub. The front sheet metal additionally featured significantly enhanced protection against rust. The utilization of smooth-surfaced, undercoated complete fender skirts secure the fenders and other sheet metal out of sand, water and salt.
Standard gear included: safety straps; 2 padded sun visors; two-speed electrical wipers; rubber floor mat; dome lighting; fresh padded dashboard; left-hand external mirror (right hand mirror onto stairs and bet models); backup lighting; change signs; and hazard flashers. There was a brand new Fleetside box using double-wall side panels, flat-topped wheel wells and a one-hand fast release tailgate. ID plates were mounted on the sides of the cowl.
The standard inside comprised color-keyed vinyl upholstery, foam cushions and steel spring chairs. White bumpers along with a white grille history were standard. Chrome bumpers were a part of this Custom Chrome Package. Custom equipment comprised a full-wide foam-padded chair; colour keyed-woven cloth and door trim; 2 door armrests; cigar lighter; cowl insulating material; undercoating; and embossed vinyl door panels. There was likewise a Custom Sport Truck (CST) alternative that comprised outside plaques, bucket seats, console, chrome bumpers, more brightwork along with other goodies.
This year’s panel and Suburban versions were changed to some 127-inch wheelbase and had fresh longer bodies. Step-facet (with bolt-on fenders) and Fleetside (slab side) pickups were offered, as were chassis-and-cab, chassis-and-cowl and chassis-and-windshield versions.
For 1968, security side markers lights have been added into the front fenders of their pickups, panels and Suburbans. Pickups on the brief wheelbase had 6-1/2-foot boxes. Those on the longer chassis had 8-foot boxes.
The standard “pie plate” hubcaps had a broad colour stripe and Chevrolet bow tie at the middle. Custom wheel covers had a “gear sprocket” appearance with color-keyed finish along with a bowtie in centre. The Custom Chrome option comprised chrome trim or grille, window frames, interior and steering wheel. The Custom Comfort & Appearance alternative added more glowing function, fancier seats and floor mats, a few chrome knobs, cigarette lighter and full size armrests. Colors for 1968 comprised Black, Light Green, Dark Green, Medium Blue Poly, Clematis Blue; Dark Blue; Red; Metallic Vermillion Poly; Orange; Dark Yellow; Light Yellow; White; Silver Poly; Saddle Poly and Ivory. Two-tone has been done with off-white as the top colour.
Of course, nearly no automaker sold trucks or cars at the 1960s multiple engine options, and Chevy truck buyers had choices to make. The standard power plant has been that the 250-cid inline six, which generated a small 155 hp. From there buyers can move up the food chain into the 292-cid six rated in 170 gross hp; the 307 V-8 in 200 gross hp, the 327 V-8 with 240 horses (gross) or the 396 V-8 with 325 gross hp. (The latter wasn’t accessible four-wheel-drive pickups in 1968.)
1968 also marked the 50th anniversary for Chevrolet trucks along with a particular Anniversary Package with golden and off-white two-tone was available for $49. 50 on Fleetside pickups and $31. 25 on Step-Sides.
THE 10-YEAR FIX
The great news for Dassow as it arrived into piecing his’68 K10 back was that he had a decent bones to use. The body the prior owner had obtained did not have some real rust difficulties, along with the truck had its initial transmission, rear end and move case. The bad news was that the truck hadn’t run in years, and there could be a lot of components pursuing if Dassow was likely to attempt and keep it a inventory hauler.
“The cab was sitting on there. The front clip was off. The engine and transmission and transfer case and driveline was set up. The box was in pieces. It was petty much a bare frame with an engine and a cab on it,” Dassow noted. “I heard a great deal about the particulars of this being a hard drive drive and being a restricted generation. They are not the same out of’67-’72. They might seem exactly the same, however in’67 and’68 that the four-wheel-drive material was different, so there was lots of hard-to-find components which I had to get.
“Then with work and school and obtaining a new project, it took a back burner for a little while. Then getting married and with children it took just a little bit farther back of burner! I had it at my parents’ home, but the moment I purchased a home in Port Edwards at 2005I transferred it into my garage and that is sort of when I picked up to the job again. Every bit of time that I had. When they took a rest I would say, ‘Well, I’will go outside and see whether I could find this thing ‘ It had never conducted because I had it”
Dassow acquired a wonderful bit of good luck when he finally came across a donor truck he managed to haul home. It was an older Illinois plow truck which had rotted out, but still carried a lot of smaller things that Dassow needed. “It had a lot of hard-to-find parts. The simple things like the transfer case shift knob, I didn’t have that, and this truck had it. And it had some other little trinkets that I needed.” There were lots of different excursions around the globe Midwest within the decades tracking down components, and a good deal of hours browsing online. “Yeah, there was a lot of chasing. Like the transfer case is a Rockwell T-221. They are pretty hard to come by and they only made them up through ’69,” Dassow pointed out. “So I went up to Minnesota just to pick up a little aluminum cover off of that. And I went down to Northern Illinois, to McHenry, to get a transfer case just to have the coupler and some of the other really hard-to-find parts. There was a lot of stuff like that.”
The K10 had a foundation 250 inline six if Dassow purchased it. He made it running fine , but made the choice the motor had to proceed when he fought getting on the top of a few hills heading to an auto show in the region. The components truck that he had obtained had the 292-cid six, which made for a comparatively simple swap. “It was originally a V-8 truck — which V-8 I have no idea. It could have been a 307 or a 327, whatever the DNR state-type vehicles would spec out,” he states. “The 292 is a better engine, in my opinion. It’s got more cubic-inch displacement and more horsepower, so I put that engine in there, and yeah, it’s night and day. Power-wise, it’s much better.”
The sheet metal for your box,” he stated, was in great form and did not require much care. He discovered a mattress kit which was shown to be quite straightforward to put in and looks fantastic 10-and years later. “It’s an oak kit, and then the stainless strips is not a factory option, but it’s something they make nowadays that looks a little flashier. I put hooks in there because I do use it for hauling. I put an old motorcycle or something in there when I go to a car show. People kind of get a kick out of that.”
Dassow says he discovered a lot of Deluxe inside alternatives to brighten up the interior of the cab. The entry door panels with chrome strips and chrome four-speed shifter aren’t first to the truck, but they seem right in your home. The AM/FM radio came from a later truck. “That did not come out before’69, but I guessed it’d be wonderful to get any FM songs if you will do some driving.
“The inside, I looked in a great deal of images of custom choices which were available. Lots of things I discovered on eBay when eBay was coming out. I purchased a great deal of parts on the market. The dashboard pad originated out of… an old-timer junkyard. Some of it’s first OEM material — as far as I could detect. The chair is merely a re-upholstery kit. And there are still a couple things that I need to complete however.
The truck has been painted primer grey when he obtained it, and Dassow says he cried over a great deal of color options before settling on a paint colour. His father, Jeff, functioned for NAPA Auto Parts years back and had some stage code graphs. Eventually, Nick determined on a bold crimson. “It’s type of a fleet glowing reddish. And I believed, ‘Well, that looks pretty nice. There is no metallic or nothin’ inside, so we went .”
Jeff really painted the truck’s inside because of his son. Later, Nick chose since he had been doing nearly everything else , he would paint the remainder of the truck, also. “We made up it and out… after a few years later I moved to Carquest and obtained the paint paired using DuPont foundation coat-clear jacket system, and that I tried my hands at it. I presumed, ‘How hard could it be?’ I purchased a inexpensive spray gun from Home Depot, a tiny HVLP gun, and also we had a place in the office which I could use after hours which could keep down the mess.
“I only went at it one bit at a time… before I had a massive pile of components in my cellar that were covered in blankets which people all painted and ready to return together”
Dassow’s aim was to produce the truck as first as he can while still making it a sensible driver. Two decidedly non-original touches he could not resist would be the truck’s unusual rear bumper, and it has both unusual ingestion setup.
“The back bumper I found at Iola in the swap meets probably 10 years ago. It’s actually off a ’60-’62 Fleetside C10 … I was looking for a bumper and I know you could buy like a Sport chrome bumper … you could buy all that stuff brand new. But I saw this thing laying in the swap meet and it had these cool stampings from the dealership in Alabama and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool. I bet I could adapt that and fit that on the back of a ’68. There was a little bit of trimming … Having that dealership stamp was something they did back in the ’60s and you don’t see a lot of.”
Dassow stated the older Edelbrock ingestion was a sudden find if he had been looking to a four-barrel carburetor set up to nourish the inline six. “I was looking at the old hot rod magazines for the old ‘six-equals-eight’ where the guys were hot-rodding inline sixes and making them put out the same horsepower as the V-8s. I came across this one and I’d never seen one before. It’s an Edelbrock and it’s a single carburetor aluminum intake. It was on eBay. It’s definitely unique. I’ve never seen another one. I don’t know how many they made, but not a big pile of them.”
The Chevy’s tall posture comes in the 16-inch wheels — 15-inchers were regular, however 16’s were discretionary in’69 — along with also the 85 string blackwall tires which Dassow mounted. “People always inquire, ‘Oh, do you have a lift in there?’ No, that is all stock suspension. What’s unique about’68 is there was just two leaf springs from the trunk, so that is sort of an oddity. In’69 they moved into a multiple pile, even about the half-ton. The tires are merely from Fleet Farm, however they have that initial bias-ply type of appearance, such as the tires which could have initially been on it.
“It’s a blast to drive. It type of rides such as a baby buggy within the lumps. With that short wheelbase, it is kind of heated with this specific leaf spring suspension. Turning, it is fine if you’re moving quickly enough, however if you are parked it is merely arm-strong steering. There’s no power aid. Cruising rate is approximately 65. First equipment, you do not really use in any way! It’s pretty much 2nd, 3rd, 4th. You can place it in first gear, which can be similar to granny-low, and if you had it in hard drive push you can simply dump the clutch in idle and it is going to just putt along. You do not even really need to understand how to drive stick. Just allow off the pedal, it is not likely to [kill the engine], it is so low”
Dassow is currently tackling another pickup . “Yeah, I’ve got a ’65 that I’m working on right now. It’s a two-wheel-drive C-10. My daughter is showing interest in that. That’s my next project.”
He’s hoping it does not take 10 years to conquer, such as the’68 did. But he would be delighted with comparable outcomes.
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