Oscar Leon is no stranger to the stress that goes along with taking on a SEMA build. Actually, he might even crave the pressure without even knowing it. In 2018, he debuted his ’62 C10 dubbed “Fireshot.” The truck received a lot of positive attention, a healthy dose of media fanfare, and of course, folks who were lining up to buy it. Well, Oscar did sell that truck shortly after its grand unveiling, but just like a shark’s instinctual taste for blood, he was already on the hunt for another truck to take back to the center stage of the automotive industry.
“I randomly (kinda without looking) came across a posting on Facebook Marketplace for an original second owner 1968 Chevy C10 LWB in Queen Creek, AZ”, says Oscar. “The post was only 20 minutes old, so I quickly attempted to make contact but didn’t hear back until hours later. I’m located in Southern California, and the seller wouldn’t accept an electronic deposit – not even full payment for what he was asking! Luckily, I called up Jeremy Rice of Tre 5 Customs in Peoria, AZ who then suggested Brian Vowell who was willing and able to pay the guy a visit in person and seal the deal for me.”
Shortly after locking down a new truck remotely, Oscar then rounded up his boys Wes, Brent and Joey to make a turnaround trip to Arizona to bring the truck home. To Oscar’s surprise, the truck was in solid rust-free original condition. Its inline 292 wasn’t in the best shape and the brakes weren’t working, but the guys got it running again without much struggle. After cruising around town in his new truck, things escalated rather quickly for Oscar. Without really having a plan for it, he still managed to get the truck slated to appear at SEMA ’19 with some more help from Jeremy at Tre 5 Customs. There was no turning back now.
Not one to waste time, Oscar quickly pulled the trigger on a very new 2020 Gen V LT 6.2L engine topped with a Magnuson TVS2300 supercharger and a 10L90 10-speed transmission. Yeah, that’s some serious firepower. He was then able to secure a full chassis from Choppin’ Block, which took no time at all to piece together. Weeks later, the truck was loaded on a trailer and once again headed back to Arizona for Tre 5 to begin their work on the C10.
While there, the bedsides were sent out to Metalox Fab – the masters of ’67-’72 C10 short bed conversions. Jeremy had begun working on lowering the engine and transmission for hood clearance, fabricating the transmission tunnel and raised bed floor, shaving the firewall, installing the Slosh Tubz fender filler panels and mocking up the intake and exhaust system – yeah, a lot of fabrication work went into this one. Once the process of Cerakote and powdercoating was complete, Jeremy then spent the following two weeks working on wiring and reassembly – the end of the line was almost near.
“Back at home with the truck, I had a lot to do in a short time frame”, Oscar admits. “We began installing the TMI seats and panels and then started to get the engine wired up correctly. This is when the build took a sharp turn left and this truck’s attitude reared its ugly head.”
The truck did, in fact, turn over, but it immediately broke. Yep, the engine would have to be pulled and broken down. Mind you, this was only 12 days before SEMA, but Oscar took things in stride. “At this time, GM was on strike, and getting parts was impossible, so I turned to Ebay and got stuck paying premium prices, but we got what we needed.” Or so he thought.
Oscar and his guys scrambled that week only to find out the day before they were set to load up to drive to Vegas that there was another huge problem lurking below the surface. “We did get the engine to fire back up and run. We finished everything else that we needed to get done, but once the truck was back on the ground, we found out that the truck wouldn’t go into any gear”, Oscar says surprisingly calm. “This is officially when the panic set in”, he adds.
The truck did make it to SEMA but not under its own power. While Oscar did do everything he could during the week his truck was on display to figure out the issue, he ended up having to load the truck up and head straight home once the show concluded without participating in the customary SEMA cruise to end the big show. Needless to say, Oscar’s motivation was in the gutter at this point, and the truck pretty much sat in the garage for the better part of 2020 untouched. “I did some things to the truck randomly, but after sitting on the sidelines for nearly two years now (thanks, COVID), I felt the need to get this one last issue resolved.”
After digging around for answers, Oscar began talking to Mitch Vannatta of Swap Time USA in Las Vegas. After hearing his feedback on the situation, Oscar’s level of hope quickly shot up – so much so that he accepted a spot with Alden American at SEMA 2021. “Mitch figured out the problem overnight”, Oscar says. He was able to identify an incorrect transmission plug pinout and incorrect ECU and TCM that was provided when I purchased the engine/transmission combo.” Boom – the ’68 was finally in motion.
With a week before Oscar’s second go-around at SEMA with this same truck, some last-minute details were handled before the day finally came to hop behind the wheel and leave Mitch’s shop, which is only 15 minutes away from the Vegas Convention Center. Although Oscar did encounter an overheating issue before he got to the show, it was figured out with the addition of a new thermostat but wow, this mission had to be the most emotionally draining ordeals he has had to deal with regarding an automobile.
“This is why we started calling this truck ‘Crazy Lady’”, Oscar admits. “We got the truck running, shifting and keeping cool, but the best part was being able to experience that sweet SEMA cruise with my kids Darrin and Dakota in the bed along with my wife Diana holding our newborn baby Atlas Danger, and my brother Cristian in the cab. This sense of accomplishment was worth the entire strenuous journey. I can now send my sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in making this happen – you know who you are.”
Oh, and Oscar made sure to stress the fact that this will not be his last SEMA build. When will he ever learn? Good luck, pal!
OSCAR LEON ‘68 C10
- 2020 GM 6.2L LT1
- Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger
- 2020 GM 10L90 10-speed auto transmission by MP Transmission, Santa Fe Springs, CA
- Driveshaft by OC Driveline, Placentia, CA
- Texas Speed camshaft and valve springs
- GM LS2 water pump
- Spal PWM brushless fan
- Champion direct-fit LS dual pass aluminum radiator
- Speed Engineering 1-7/8-inch stainless steel headers
- Borla 3-inch exhaust, Pro XS mufflers
- Dirty Dingo 8-rib LT4 engine drive accessory kit
- Dyno/tune by KP Fabrication and Tune, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
- Choppin’ Block full chassis, triangulated 4-link, 19-gallon fuel tank
- Red Horse Performance fuel and trans cooler lines and fittings
- CPP modular drop spindles
- Mustang 2 rack and pinion
- Slam Specialties SS-7 ‘bags
- AccuAir CVT e-Level
- Aldan American TrueLine Series single adjustable shocks all around
- Borgeson steering shaft and u-joints
- Ididit 33-inch tilt steering column
- CPP 13-inch front and 11-inch rear brakes, Midnight Series master cylinder, Street Beast hydraulic brake assist
- 24x9 and 24x12 Budnik Tungsten wheels
- Patina exterior under clear
- White paint in engine and under hood
- Bodywork by Jessie Alvarez and Ikandy Paintworks
- U-Pol Raptor Liner
- United Pacific LED headlights and sequential LED taillights, stock replacement rear bumper, door handles and glass
- TMI Pro Classic low back seats and buddy console, dash pad, door panels in distressed brown vinyl #509
- TMI brown carpet installed by Jason Tony Designs
- Budnik Tungsten steering wheel
- Dakota Digital HDX gauges
- Alpine Halo head unit
- Kicker amps, speakers and subwoofer installed by MG Audio Design, Anaheim, CA