In the world of vintage pickups, there are a lot of original factory issued trim packages that are highly sought out after due to their rarity in today’s market. Even back when they were originally offered to the public, these types of special order trucks were already limited in number, and are naturally significantly scarcer now decades later.
Now, let’s take a closer look at this ’78 Chevy Silverado Big 10 pickup here owned by Mark Malone from Greenville, Tennessee. Mark had seen it listed for sale on Facebook by a seller who had restored a good deal of the truck two years prior. Now, at the time when he made the drive to Little Rock, Arkansas, to give the truck a look in person, Mark wasn’t all too familiar with what the Big 10 badging entailed. “I really just loved the stripes on the hood, the fact that it had a big block engine and was highly optioned out”, Mark admits. “In my eyes, the truck had a lot going for it – it truly was a perfect 10 for me, so I loaded it up and brought it home.”
The Big 10 badged Chevy trucks, an equivalent to GMC’s ‘Heavy Half’, were released as a way for the factory to side-step strict emission laws introduced during the mid- 70’s. These particular pickups were outfitted with ¾-ton suspension components bolted to a ½-ton chassis in order to push the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over the 6,000-pound threshold. This made them exempt from having to be equipped with the industry’s newfangled, power-robbing emissions device called a catalytic converter that all other cars and trucks with less than 6,000 lbs of cargo capacity were sentenced to be paired with.
Now, the combination of suspension and chassis parts did give the Big 10 slightly better load carrying ability, which was a bonus, but it’s not really what these trucks were all about. The factory 454 under the hood didn’t hurt its appeal either, as it was kind of an exclamation point at the end of not having to comply with the cat. These trucks really were renegades of their time. Oh, and the highly identifiable color schemes and badging is as good as vintage paint gets with any make and model classic truck out there.
Mark bought a lot more truck without even knowing it at the time, which is not something most of us have the luxury to brag about these days. “I get a lot of messages from other Squarebody guys, and a lot of them refer to the truck as being a holy grail given that it is equipped with a short bed, the 454 and all the other options it has”, Mark says about the feedback to his Big 10. “I’m not sure the truck is all that though, but I have grown to love it more after learning more about its heritage.”
Knowing what he does now, Mark figured it would be best to leave the truck as original as possible. There was no sense changing up anything that made this Chevy a recognizable Big 10 edition but Mark was dying to slam it, though. He didn’t have a quick two- or three-inch lowering job in mind – he was thinking something more noticeable along the lines of a big 6/8 static drop.
To help get his rare C10 down lower to the ground, Mark called on a hometown resource in Bryan Harrison of Harrison’s Rod & Customs to do what he does best. A complete selection of McGaughy’s suspension components were carefully selected to give the Big 10 a more aggressive stance to better match its historically badass attitude. To make the most of the new ride height, a set of 18- and 20-inch US Mags Scottsdale wheels and Diamond Back white line tires were matched up and proved to be a fitting combination.
Everything about this Big 10 edition Chevy is clean and has been restored to near factory glory – with some minor custom tweaks here and there to spice it up some. This is an important truck to see still on the road, and Mark is honored to be its current caretaker. “The truck is not only loved by me”, he adds. “My 4-year-old daughter Emma might love this truck more than me. I sometimes call Emma ‘EmmaLu’ or ‘LuLu’, so I figured I’d officially nickname the truck LuLu after her. She even loves going to shows with me, as does my 18-year-old son whenever he feels like tagging along with us.”
These Big 10 trucks aren’t all that easy to come up on these days, and Mark Malone knows it. His ’78 also happens to be one of the coolest out there in the wild making it that much more appealing. It’s got all the desirable characteristics and parts that classic Chevy truck aficionados look for in a rare pickup of this pedigree, and just the right amount of street cred to satisfy show goers and bystanders everywhere.