Ah, Craigslist! Nothing in the custom truck community is simultaneously as loved and hated as this site. On the one hand, you can come across some absolute bargains on parts and trucks when you’re on the hunt for project stuff. On the other hand, since everything is local, you scroll and scroll until you find something that looks interesting, send a friendly email with a question or two, and then usually end up buying stuff you don’t necessarily need just because it’s convenient, and… well, why not? You weren’t doing anything else on a late Thursday night anyway, right?
And that’s exactly how Lu Perez ended up in trouble one evening. As he tells us, “I stumbled across this pretty average-looking ‘79 GMC that was only about 40 minutes away from my house. There wasn’t a whole lot of into listed in the ad, but I could see that the truck looked very solid from the photos. I messaged the seller as quickly as I could and set up a time to look at the truck first thing the following morning.”
The following day, Lu drove off with trailer in tow and cash in pocket. As we know all too well, though, sellers aren’t always completely forthcoming with the details. Luckily for Lu, that wasn’t the case this time around. “When I arrived at the seller’s house, there it was! The sun was shining, the air was cool, and I knew I couldn’t leave without taking this truck back home with me. I made my way over to the truck and started to inspect for any rust or frame damage, and to my surprise it was in excellent overall condition!”
And not only was it in great condition, but it had just the right goods – perfect patina, a clean base model Sierra interior, and… a tired, old inline-six engine. Okay, so not everything was ideal, but it was still too good to pass up. It even still had all of its original GMC hubcaps, and most of the dealer paperwork was still in the glovebox! Lu didn’t bother to haggle on the price, either. At just $1,800 for a running, driving factory short bed truck, would you? No, we wouldn’t either.
Up until this point, we haven’t mentioned Lu’s initial motivation for buying the truck – he planned to turn right around and flip it for a healthy profit! And with the price he paid, we can’t say we’d blame him. But, as you can see, he still has it. So, what happened? The truth is his change of heart happened before he even got the truck home: “I loaded it up and was making my way back home to show my wife the score of the day. Over the following 40 minutes, I began to see the potential that this truck had. All I could think about was, ‘how would this truck look on the ground? How much would I need to narrow the rear end to fit wide wheels in the back? 454 or LS?’” And once his son, Louie, caught sight of it, it was game over – this truck was going to stay in the family!
From that point forward, it was full steam ahead on the home-built project, which would end up taking a total of four years to complete. Front and rear air suspension/chassis kits from Chassis Fab and some additional parts from Big Black Fabrication kept Lu from too much guesswork when it came time to laying the truck on the ground, and with some help from fellow Relaxed Atmosphere member Eddie Gordy (Big Black Fab), he was able to make sure that everything was welded up and adjusted perfectly.
Wheels of choice for Lu’s C15 are Raceline Chargers measuring 22×9 and 24×12, with 265/35R22 and 305/30R24 Delinte tires. And if you’re wondering, you’d best believe that the rear end has been narrowed to fit those foot-wide billet wheels out back – a total of 12 inches!
The truck also got a big block 454 out of a ‘95 Chevy truck, which remains pretty much stock other than some bolt-ons like the Edelbrock intake manifold and Performer carb, and the Eddie Motorsports air cleaner assembly. Shifting is handled by a stout Turbo 400 – about as tried and true as you can get as far as analog GM automatics go.
Add in a restored interior using a bunch of LMC replacement parts, and Lu’s GMC was ready to party at its first event at which it rolled into under its own power to the ’22 Dino’s Git Down at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Better yet, he had the whole family in tow, including his son: “The first real test drive in the truck was from the host hotel to the venue, and I couldn’t have had a better co-pilot than the little guy that helped me back it off the trailer four years prior – my son, Louie. That first ride flooded my heart with pride and joy, a memory that will never be matched. Most people will never understand the bond that a father and son create around these trucks, but it’s a bond that sticks like glue!”
LU PEREZ • ‘79 GMC C15
- 1995 7.4L 454 Chevy engine
- Hedman 2 3/8-inch headers
- Edelbrock intake manifold
- Edelbrock Performer 650-CFM carburetor
- Eddie Motorsports air cleaner
- MSD ignition
- Lokar engine accessories
- CVF racing serpentine front system
- Griffin aluminum radiator w/Griffin fan
- Custom 3-inch exhaust with Black Widow Neighborhater mufflers by 770 Custom Exhaust Shop
- Turbo 400 transmission
- B&M Tork Master 2,600-RPM stall torque converter
- Custom built and shortened driveshaft by Oliver’s Driveshaft & Gear
- Original 12-bolt rear end narrowed 12 inches
- Detroit Truetrac limited slip differential
- Chassis Fab 4-link
- Chassis Fab notch and air ride setup
- Big Black Fabrication custom Panhard bar
- Slam Specialties airbags front and rear
- Monroe monotube shocks front and rear
- Chassis Fab front air ride crossmember kit
- Big Black Fabrication custom tie rod ends/links
- Belltech 3-inch drop spindles
- Master Power Brakes 12-inch disc brakes all around
- Master Power Brakes master cylinder and booster w/proportioning valve
- Boyd Welding 19-gallon aluminum fuel tank
- 22x9 and 24x12 Raceline Charger billet wheels
- Delinte 265/35R22 and 305/30R24 tires
- Custom bed floor, rear wheel tubs, and bed access panels by Eddy Gordy, Big Black Fabrication
- Custom firewall panels by Atomic Armadillo Metal Fab
- Hart Fab front inner wheel tubs
- Paint matching by Harrington Classic Restorations
- Interior work by James Green
- 1977 bench seat w/original houndstooth/vinyl upholstery
- LMC replacement dashboard pad
- LMC maroon carpet kit
- LMC replacement door panels
- LMC replacement seat belts