Tony Cole’s Bagged 1974 Squarebody
Tony Cole of Long Beach, CA had never owned or built a ‘bagged truck before he started working on this ’74 C10. Hell, he had never even ridden in a truck with an air ride system before, but the act of fabricating one for himself made for some sort of rite of passage at the time. Luckily, while he was new to the world of vehicles on ‘bags, he was already a seasoned veteran in the fabrication game.
“I’ve owned numerous C10, K10 trucks and K5 Blazers throughout my life”, Tony admits. “I just never thought I’d get the itch to build one on ‘bags, but here I am.” The challenge to step outside his comfort zone and do something much different with a truck model he was already familiar with was too interesting to pass up. Now, Tony is all about building cool cars/trucks in his garage, and even has a cool nickname for his home operation—Prrdiem Fab. While he already had the skillset required to put a truck on the ground, the actual process to do so was all new territory he was more than ready to begin exploring.
Tony scoured Southern California Craigslist ads, hoping to find the right truck to get started on. “I came across this truck here in Lancaster, CA. The seller assured me that the bodywork was complete and that the truck was rust-free. I had my good friend Tony Tijerina take a look at the truck and make the buy if he thought it was good to go”, Tony says. “We ended up buying the truck for $2,600, and once I got the truck home, I completely stripped it and had it media blasted because I just didn’t trust the previous bodywork on a promise. To my surprise, the truck really was super solid and in great condition.”
With all doubt cast aside, Tony took to the job he was looking forward to most with this project—creating an asphalt-scraping suspension system. He was able to salvage the original frame rails, and he utilized Porterbuilt Fab chassis components, namely a front Dropmember kit and rear 4-link setup. “This part of the chassis work went smooth, since it was mostly bolt-on for the most part, although I did weld in the rear notch, bridge and lower shock mount bar. Building the mid-cab portion of the frame (body drop section) did require considerably more time and effort to make sure everything was square and straight.”
While Tony is proud of the frame he fabricated, he has since commented that for the time and labor he put in on the center section he built it in 2013, he’d go a totally different direction if he were to do it over today. “Back then there weren’t too many companies offering full chassis for C10 trucks, or else I’m sure I would’ve gone that route. The process of transforming the ‘74’s original frame was a gratifying experience that gave me a lot of appreciation for ‘bagged vehicles, and the amount of skill and design work that really goes into making this type of truck.”
The previous owner also assured Tony that the 350ci motor was as solid as the rest of the truck, which wasn’t a lie. “After tearing the motor down, I noticed that it hadn’t been touched internally. The block was a 4-bolt main, the cylinders were stock bore, and as far as any real damage there was none present—the engine was the perfect candidate for a full refresh and reinstall.” Tony relied on his own know-how, as well as some help from Vellios Machine Shop in nearby Lawndale, CA to get the job done. The motor gone through and cleaned up, an impressive lineup of performance goods was stacked up for installation. Not only was the ’74 going to run reliably, but it would get a healthy HP boost in the process.
Since Tony didn’t have to worry about taking any steps backward when it came time to get the C10’s surface ready for paint, he took that as a sign to begin customizing instead. He shaved off a good amount of items from the exterior, making for a very clean, streamlined appearance. While he did remove quite a bit, he did find space to add some finishing touches with a select number of premium add-ons in the way of GSI Machine door handles, custom lighting, and once-piece side windows and flush-mount rear glass from One Piece Products to name a few. Tony once again enlisted his pal Tony Tijerina to assist with the paint. The guys selected a Hyundai paint hue, Waltz Blue Metallic to make for a cool mood coloring. House of Kolor Show Klear was then used to seal the deal on the paint job while giving the truck a slick high-gloss shine.
Inside the cab, Tony got to work finding a pair of bucket seats worthy of reupholstering. What he found was a set of 2nd row Honda Odyssey seats that fit perfectly, which he had Eddy and Son Upholstery in Orange, CA wrap in gray vinyl. The same color was used to treat the dash, door and kick panels as well as the audio enclosure behind the seats. Tony also installed a Vintage Air A/C system because it does stay pretty warm in SoCal, and he had every intention of driving this truck as much as possible year-round. With that in mind, Tony also pieced together a full audio orchestration, which is not always easy to do in a single cab pickup. There were no corners cut with this build, and Tony wasn’t in the mode to choose between bells or whistles—he wanted both.
Well, here it is—Tony’s first introduction to the realm of ‘bagged classic trucks. Instead of experiencing it secondhand, he figured he’d just dive right in to see what all the fuss was about. Although this was his first rodeo into building his first air ride-equipped truck, his previous expertise in fabrication guaranteed him a victory right from the start.
“The majority of this build was performed by myself with the help of a few friends, Willie Sanchez, Tony Tijerina and my girlfriend Stephanie who helped lift the cab and bed on and off throughout the build. The new friends, community and people I’ve met at all the truck events and cruise nights really has to be the best part of this experience for me though. Taking home a trophy (best ’73-’87) at the Brothers show wasn’t bad either—I totally wasn’t expecting that”, Tony says with a chuckle.