This truck feels like what would happen if for some reason all of the individual, fragmented automotive obsessions I have gone through in the past couple of years somehow manifested themselves into one fever-dream of an automotive singularity. And it turned out pretty damn cool.
Bryan bought this Mark VIII from a guy who had sucked a bunch of water into it after a heavy rain. For some reason, we felt that we needed to try and get the water out of it at 1:30 in the morning in the parking lot where the previous owner had left it.
This isn’t really a how to video. Actually, it’s kind of more of a how not to.
Do you remember Goolsby Customs from Bessemer, Alabama? A while back, we covered their 1969 Camaro Convertible build from SEMA 2013. They were back at SEMA 2015 with an all-new creation: a 1969 Ford Mustang. The car belongs to Tim and Cici Spencer, and we couldn’t wait to check it out!
Gone are the days when building a hot rod meant swapping in a junkyard motor and some bolt-ons to any old jalopy. The collector car market is now dominated by elite restoration shops that completely deconstruct and reassemble the classics of yesterday as modern hot rods. These cars are adorned with precision machined parts, exotic materials like titanium and carbon fiber, and one-off fabricated parts. In many cases, these frame-off resto-mods may take one to three years to build and cost upwards of $150,000 or more!
Hot rodding has become an over-the-top, “mine’s-bigger-than-yours” competition of insane proportions. The latest example of this comes from SpeedKore Performance in Grafton, Wisconsin. Their 1970 Dodge Charger “Tantrum” is one of the wildest custom car builds I have ever seen.
In 1970, the only people working with carbon fiber would have been the aviation industry and NASA. This space-age material is incredibly lightweight and strong. At the time this car rolled off the production line, it would have been unthinkable to have such materials in a passenger car. But that’s exactly what Speedkore have done: carbon fiber hood, front fenders, and bumpers.
Despite my love for trucks, I’m admittedly not well versed in their history and model differences. When it comes to GMC, I know less than I do about it’s sister brand – my favorite truck brand – Chevrolet. Now when we talk about GMC trucks 1973 or newer, it’s really a moot point: Badge engineering is in full force. To that extent I can’t believe that people still buy into that “professional grade” nonsense they shill on the TV. It’s the same truck as the Chevy with some trim differences.
Despite my lack of knowledge, I do know some GMC fun facts. A 1960 model could be had with a GMC-specific 370ci Oldsmobile-derived v8. They also ran some Poncho v8s for a while in the 50’s.
Long before the Internet was a prolific source for knowledge, my dad showed me my first 60 degree, 305 cubic inch GMC v6 in a dump truck he had bought at auction.
Thanks to the Internet I found out that huge 5.0L v6 was actually the smallest one GMC made and that they even had a v12 derived from that family. And while I’m on the topic of the v6, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plaid valve covers available on the half tons of the 60s.
What’s the point in glossing over this history? Well its not because I’m trying to show off. I’m sure I’m not long for an email or comment regarding how little I know from a truly die hard fan who is scoffing to themselves as they read this now.
The point is that I’m still learning passively with each vehicle I see at trade shows , car shows and meet ups. This is just one reason why I’m so strongly against the current homogenized restomod approach to building an older car or truck. You take a bit of what made unique, to impress the people that can only handle things that are easy, familiar and the same as everyone else.
This 1970 GMC may not be anything flashy with its “350 crate motor” which is probably a goodwrench v8 that’s surely slower than what it had stock. The mild 2 inch lift and automatic transmission with shift kit don’t really bring much excitement to the table either. To me, this truck in it’s current state of modification is a great period piece of when Bigfoot was new and this truck was only a decade and a half off the lot. It’s aspiring to be something the everyman couldn’t yet achieve.
What would it add to this truck if it were to become victim to the latest trends? Flared prerunner fenders, late model bucket seats and an LS motor? I feel like at that point you’re just taking away from what it was.
I guess what’s funny to me is that what I learned is so minor in compared to my view of the history of this truck. I just always assumed GMC used the same 10/20/30/40 etc sequence for designating the tonnage of their trucks that Chevy did. When I first read 1970 1500, I figured it must have been an error on the owner’s part. However, I was wrong.
Huh, learn something new every day.
So this is one of those cars where you wonder if at first it could actually be real. The seller attempted to advertise it as a Cutlass/f-85 but really that’s like calling Chevrolet’s platform twin a Chevelle/Malibu. This is an f-85, which was the name for the base model of Oldmobile’s A-body car.
To most people this is just another old muscle car. To the slightly more “initiated”, they might say it’s just another variation of the platform shared by the aforementioned Malibu, the Skylark or the Tempest. For the rest of us, the w-31 emblazoned on the fender says a little bit more.
How much more? How about 0-60 in 6.6 seconds and a factory rated 325hp, same as the 396 BBC found in the Chevelle. Look closely under the bumpers and you’ll see ram air scoops designed to shove cool outside air directly into the engine via snorkel tubes. This a design that is still found on modern cars today.
To find a combination of the base trim car with the high performance motor is really intriguing. More intriguing though is the car itself. Let your eyes be the judge.
This is probably the epitome of a clean third generation Camaro. One that would make a perfect weekend cruiser or daily driver. No ridiculous body or interior modifications and a bit more than stock power. If you’re into third gens as much as I am, then I know this car will appeal to you like it did to me.
What I like about this car:
1. The wheels are stock to the car in design and conservative in size. This 20″+ trend I’ve been seeing for the last few years is awful.
2. Manual transmission. I’m assuming either a t56 or TKO unit by its 6 gear count. This era Camaro definitely shed it’s massive, straight-line missile persona developed by the second generation cars, so rowing your own gears is a requirement as far as I’m concerned.
3. 383 small block chevy. 10 years ago I might have groaned about this, but I’m just happy to see a TPI unit and not the now ubiquitous Gen III/IV small block.
4. Hard top. I love the open feeling of driving a T-Top car, but as far as structural integrity of a unibody car goes, hard top rules supreme.
What I dislike about this car:
1. The color. I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse with loving stick shifts and hating the color red, but it’s how I feel. I would have loved to see metallic green, bright yellow or even black or white. Is there space here for me to complain about painting the headlight buckets gloss black? At least they’re not body colored…
2. Air brushing. I’m not a fan of the displacement treatment on the hood, especially since it’s a 383, so it wouldn’t displace 5.7 liters. The IROC logo on the ground effects doesn’t do much for me either. On top of all that, the red/yellow combo either reminds me of McDonald’s or Hulk Hogan. No thanks.
3. Some of the body treatments are a little lame. The spoiler is nice and understated but the cowl-induction hood and shaved handles just bring me back to a 1990’s superchevy car. The flat hood is such a great design feature of this car because it accentuates how low the cowl is.
4. The TPI unit. This is conflicting because on one hand I applaud them for keeping the coolest part under the hood of some third generation Camaros. However, even with the nicest aftermarket parts, they’re probably sacrificing a bit of horsepower over a carb. I’d keep the TPI, but this detail shouldn’t go unnoticed.