Achieving a holy grail build doesn’t always happen right away. More often than not, expect to wait years. Also, keep in mind that the very definition of what you may consider to be a ‘holy grail’ right now at this moment is subject to change during that waiting period. It happens. Interests in different vehicles tend to shift at various rates, so every now and then those “Plan B” and “Plan C” vehicles can rise up and take over that top slot as soon as “Plan A” seems to become unattainable for whatever reason.
Cesar Tijerina of San Juan, Texas, can relate to this sentiment to some degree. After about three truck builds and three years of waiting, he was finally given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of this ’86 Chevy Squarebody, which he is confident in calling his dream truck. “I was just hanging out in my hotel room relaxing in West Texas after a short work meeting. As I was browsing the classifieds for classic trucks, as I like to do, I found exactly what I was looking for! The truck only had one owner and it was in perfect condition.”
The first order of business was to give the C10 a proper height adjustment. To help with this big job, Cesar turned to Drop Shop Customs in Mission, Texas. There, the crew constructed a custom boxed frame fabricated of sturdy 3/16-inch steel for the truck. A GSI Machine front air ride kit was implemented to not only lower the Chevy, but to also make it feel like driving a smooth, modern pickup. Ride quality is key with this setup, and while it is a bit more involved when compared to a simple chop ‘n drop approach, Cesar was ready to make the commitment to build the best Squarebody he possibly could while using top shelf parts and components.
To up the ante even further with the C10’s suspension system, the original 10-bolt rear end was narrowed enough to squeeze 15-inch wide rear wheels into position. Obviously, Cesar had zero intentions of playing around with the build of his personal dream truck. In case you were wondering, he did take advantage of the new rear end situation by selecting a set of 24×15 Intro Nitro wheels to bolt onto the back. 24×9 sized counterparts were then chosen for the Chevy’s front end. To bring the newfound chassis to an abrupt halt, Wilwood performance braking components were put on the to-do list for good measure.
The next phase of the build pushed Cesar way past any boundaries he has ever stayed behind with his previous pickup projects. To give his Squarebody far more power and dependability, he naturally selected a 2007 LS 364 engine to plant underneath the hood with help from Emilio Guajardo. Cesar took this opportunity to build on this very major upgrade by introducing a Be Cool aluminum radiator to the mix, as well as a Lokar air cleaner, Ultimate Headers, a Borla muffler, as well as a Billet Specialties TruTrac pulley system and valve covers to increase the visual appeal of the LS.
Cesar’s Chevy was sure coming along nicely, and to capitalize on his truck’s progress, he made it a point to find a talented and reliable body and paint shop to stay right on track. Carlos Medina of Mr. Gap Customs proved to be the right man for the job. Even though the ’86 came to Cesar in above average condition for a truck of its age, there was still some work to be done before any paint could be shot. To start, Carlos raised the bed floor and created a center access panel utilizing his custom sheetmetal skillset, and then proceeded to focus on prepping the rest of the truck’s panels for color.
As it got closer to make a final decision between any paint options, Cesar narrowed down the selections and chose PPG Victory Red to serve as his C10’s finished stage. You really can’t go wrong with this particular hue. It’s a timeless shade of red used by GM, and it really lends a sense of authentic Chevy heritage to Cesar’s Square. To make the most of the fiery new paint job, Carlos began smoothing and prepping an aftermarket front chrome bumper, as well as a rear aftermarket Suburban bumper for final reassembly. Aluminum door handles from Eddie Motorsports were also included in the parts list, as was an assortment of parts from LG Billet USA to complete the Chevy’s exterior overhaul.
The interior cab space was the next in line to be taken care of. For this portion of the project, Palmas Upholstery in McAllen, Texas, was recruited to wrap the bench seat, dash and door panels in peanut butter colored ultra leather material. Similar colored carpeting was also put in place to give the cab space a very clean and classic appearance. Since Cesar plans on driving his truck as much as possible this summer, he made sure that an A/C system from Vintage Air was installed. Other interior features include Dakota Digital gauges than blend right into the dashboard, as well as a Retro Sound head unit that is also camouflaged in vintage styling while still serving a very modern function.
While Cesar didn’t end up with his dream truck in a record amount of time, he did still get what he wanted through hard work and a whole lot of patience. He is most definitely the guy you want to talk to about staying fixated on that Plan A vehicle of your dreams while having to wait year after year.
CESAR TIJERINA • ‘86 C10
- 2007 Chevrolet LS 364CI
- 2007 4L65 transmission w/ Precision 3200 RPM stall torque converter
- Be Cool aluminum radiator
- Billet Specialties TruTrac serpentine system and valve covers
- Lokar LS air intake
- MSD ignition
- American Autowire wiring
- 2.5-inch Ultimate Headers
- Borla mufflers
- Two-piece custom driveshaft
- Custom 3/16-inch steel frame by Drop Shop Customs, Mission, TX
- Boxed frame with narrowed original 10-bolt rear end to fit 15-inch wide wheels
- GSI Machine & Fabrication front air ride kit and aluminum fuel tank
- Air Lift ‘bags
- Ridetech shocks
- Wilwood 16-inch brake kits
- 24x9 and 24x15 Intro Nitro wheels
- 255/30R24 and 405/25R24 Pirelli tires
- Victory Red paint by Carlos Medina, Mission, TX
- Bodywork by Mr. Gap Custom
- SS aftermarket outer mirrors
- Smoothed aftermarket front bumper, Suburban aftermarket rear bumper
- Eddie Motorsports aluminum door handles
- LED headlights and taillights
- Billet accessories by LG Billet USA
- Custom hand wrapped ultra leather dash and seats by Palmas Upholstery, McAllen, TX
- Dakota Digital gauges
- Retro Sound head unit
- JBL front speakers
- Vintage Air A/C
- Billet Specialties compressor