Arizona shop helps get boy’s classic Chevy truck show ready

Oct. 30, 2020
Regular customer Hugo Caballero approached Sun Devil Auto in Surprise, Ariz., for assistance in getting the ‘67 C10 belonging to his 11-year-old son, Venicio, roadworthy and otherwise ready for an October car show. 

Community involvement projects can come in many forms, but how often does an auto repair shop get to assist with “fixing up” a classic truck, especially for an enthusiastic boy? Regular customer Hugo Caballero approached Sun Devil Auto in Surprise, Ariz., for assistance in getting the ‘67 C10 belonging to his 11-year-old son, Venicio, roadworthy and otherwise ready for an October car show. Store Manager Mike Arana saw the unique opportunity, and he jumped at the chance.

“We quickly noticed the passion that Venicio had and understood how important this father-son project was going to be, so helping them in every possibly way was an easy decision for us,” Arana said. “It’s essential that we support young enthusiasts who share our passion for restoring vehicles to their original beauty.”

After earning money mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs, Venicio asked his dad if he could use the proceeds to purchase a classic truck to restore as a father-son project. The duo pored over online ads before Venicio found the object of his dreams in Clearlake Oaks, Calif., a ‘67 C10 short bed pickup. Venicio said he was particularly drawn to the unique patina of the blue respray over the factory white finish, timeworn in spots down to the oxide primer. Hugo Caballero was new to the car-restoration hobby, but he and Venicio dug into the truck project, their knowledge and confidence enhanced after watching dozens of YouTube videos on the subject and watching several automotive-restoration TV shows.

The Caballeros installed a new master cylinder, drop spindles, tie rod ends, lower ball joints, a disc-brake conversion, and shocks and springs. They occasionally ran into a particularly tough spot, such as the ball joint that refused to separate from the spindle without a torch. As fate would have it, though, their new neighbor, Bill Tuttle, is an experienced automotive technician and has come to their aid multiple times when he’d see the father and son working in their garage across the street.

With the push on to make the Oct. 24 Oasis Classic Car Show in Westgate, Ariz., and the truck still needed rear suspension work, such as new drop springs, shocks, and track bar installed, and of course a wheel alignment. Caballero, a busy Air Force airman at nearby Luke Air Force Base, approached Arana with his request for help to make the deadline.

“Not only did the folks at Sun Devil Auto spend days with us to get the C10 in improved working order, but they also helped Venicio gain valuable knowledge and experience. Special thanks to our mechanic, Edgar Mendez, who took the time to explain everything he had repaired and installed,” Caballero said, noting that Venicio was particularly enthused in seeing Mendez perform the alignment procedure using lasers.

The ride height is now 2-1/2 inches lower in the front and 4 inches in the rear, with new smoothie black wheels wrapped in 255/60 front tires and 275/60 rear tires.

“He was a little nervous, because he didn’t want to go too low. But like his mom, brother, and friends said, ‘Is that even the same truck?’ Because it originally looked like a farm truck. But the moment you drop it, you’ve got that dominant, mean stance. And everyone just loves it.”

Now sporting its new moniker “Relic” on its personalized license plate, the truck has been freshened up not only with the typical tuneup parts, such as spark plugs, wires, and fuel filter, but it’s also been upgraded to an HEI (High-Energy Ignition) distributor. The duo also installed a RetroSound Bluetooth radio, which preserved much of the original AM radio’s looks.

At some point, Caballero would like to pull the original 327 engine and reseal it, install a slightly larger camshaft, headers, new water pump, and timing chain. Then, perhaps power steering and A/C.

“In Arizona, driving it at 115 degree-heat is not fun. The truck could always use more things, but he’s got to deal with the money; I have to teach him to work hard.”

For now, Venicio is content to sit in the truck in the garage, practicing depressing the clutch pedal and shifting the four-speed manual transmission until he and his father get the chance to practice driving in a field. The Caballeros have sanded the frame, firewall, and supports for the wooden bed floor before finishing repainting them. Near-term plans are for Sun Devil’s auto body shop to repair some of the dents but preserving the patina that first drew Venicio to the truck.

Montgomery Miller, area manager for Sun Devil Auto, which has 23 stores in the Phoenix area, eight in Las Vegas, and four in Texas, has also been involved in the project.

“I’ve never seen an 11-year-old kid who was so much a purist about a project. He wants to keep that patina. On the driver’s door, there is a spot where you can tell someone had their elbow on there for just years and rubbed it all the way through every layer of paint down through the actual primer, and then the metal itself is actually discolored from the rubbing and sweat. And he says, ‘I don’t want to touch that, because I want the history of that in the truck.”

So the plan at the moment is to clearcoat the truck over the existing paint to preserve its look, while massaging out some of the dents. Desiree “Dez” Ferrell, who was a contestant on the recent “Bitchin’ Boot Camp” TV show, will be in charge of that project.

“We’re going to be working to see if we can do some of these minor detail things without changing too much of the original quality of the truck,” Miller said.

Store managers have the authority to help out a customer in need, said Miller said, who even assisted in diagnosing why the truck wouldn’t run when Venicio got a little too enthusiastic with the pressure washer while cleaning the engine bay and got the distributor wet.

“What we preach to our employees isn’t how to sell air filters, tires, or shocks and struts,” he said. “We talk about, ‘What do we need to do to help somebody?’ We’ve got to understand what their problem is, but it’s more about what does the customer need from us to get the project done? Do they need a knowledgeable person to listen? Do they need a specialized technician? It’s about the individual’s needs. So when they see things like this, they have the ability to jump in and help out. Obviously, when it comes to larger things, we have to get involved to make some of those financial decisions. But this one was a no-brainer for them. It was a few hours of labor to help someone out.”

Miller said the company has been involved in a number of civic projects in its communities since it began 42 years ago.

“But we never really dove into this type of project. Having the ability to jump in with Hugo and Venicio on this project has opened our eyes to the possibilities. It’s been more personal, more one-on-one, and it’s something we may look at doing more of in the future.”

About the Author

Jay Sicht | Editor-in-Chief, FenderBender and ABRN

Jay Sicht is editor-in-chief of FenderBender and ABRN. He has worked in the automotive aftermarket for more than 28 years, including in a number of sales and technical roles in paint/parts distribution and service/repair. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Central Missouri with a minor in aviation, and as a writer and editor, he has covered all segments of the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 of those years, including formerly serving as editor-in-chief of Motor Age and Aftermarket Business World. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.