The world of custom trucks is vast, with many different styles and trends that make each segment unique from the others. Some folks prefer big, lifted rigs, while others get down with the trucks that sit way low. It’s all a personal preference really, and when the time comes to build one for yourself, you’ll know right away which direction to move towards.
That’s usually how these things work anyway, but especially in the case of Mr. John Reyes of Del Valle, Texas. “’I’ve always wanted to build a Chevy Squarebody style pickup for myself”, he says. “My passion for these trucks started after hearing my dad’s accounts of his builds and project trucks from the past. I was a young man about the age of 18 when I first started getting involved in customizing cars, and it was my dad’s stories that influenced me to want to build cool vehicles of my own.”
With a solid foundation to build from, John fine-tuned his palate over the years of what he found appealing about heavily modified pickups. Of course, it was a mixture of things he was drawn to – nice paint, lowered right height, and an overall clean appearance, but it was the finishing details that have always won John over. “I’ve always enjoyed seeing a customized Squarebody, but I really started taking notice when guys started running the big lip billet wheels on them. That was really my favorite part when looking at my favorite trucks in the show scene.”
With lots of inspiration fueling John’s fire to find the right truck, he began searching for the perfect Squarebody to start work on. It didn’t take long to track down what he was looking for, and better yet, he picked up his ’87 through a source that would prove to become a reliable, helping hand. “I found my truck through Andrew Hernandez, who has done all the body, paint and restoration work from the beginning.” With the keys to his new Squarebody in his pocket, John could now start rolling out the plan he had to whip it into similar condition of the showpieces he had admired at shows.
Wanting that low stance, John first began by disassembling the components from the factory chassis, powdercoating the entire frame, and hand selecting a combination of quality parts to piece together a solid air ride scenario. The front end of the chassis has been outfitted with a Porterbuilt Dropmember kit and CPP 2-inch drop spindles, while the back has been blessed with a custom 2-link wishbone setup for good measure. Allowing the truck to reach the ideal ride and park height, Air Lift ‘bags and an AccuAir management system were thrown into the mix for quick and responsive level control.
Soon enough, John was then able to start shopping for those billet wheels he always had his eye on – a healthy set of 22×9 and 24×15 Intro Nitros. Yeah, that’s a whole lotta billet, but that’s exactly what he wanted. He mixed those with a fresh set of Pirelli rubber, and braking upgrades from Wilwood and AZ Pro Performance to bring those big hunks of precious metal to a swift, easy stop.
Wanting to stay true to the standard OG Squarebody power source, John recruited David Padilla to build the 350 SB up to not only good running condition, but to get it to perform at its highest potential. With a Comps camshaft, Edelbrock cylinder heads and intake manifold, Holley water pump and dual cooling fans, and a ton of other true performance products, the engine was soon roaring and ready for the open road. Not only does the 350 put up some respectable horsepower, but it has been detailed to a show-worthy shine, and so has the entirety of the engine bay with custom painted firewall, tubs and all the trim pieces all treated with custom paint.
With Andrew Hernandez working hard on the bodywork, and Maike Sanchez making some required repairs to the doorjambs and then some, the Squarebody was soon ready for a fresh coat of paint. Together, Andrew and Maike concocted a killer combination of Spies Hecker Inferno Orange Metallic and Cool vanilla hues to treat the metal surfaces. Robert Meza of Alamo Customs then stepped in to paint the center colors and lay down some pinstriping to bring it all together.
To finish off the newly painted exterior landscape, fresh headlights and LED taillights from LMC Truck were brought in, as was stock replacement GSI Machine billet handles to give the doors an understated twist on OEM styling. John also wanted the truck to have a custom wood plank bed floor, and Chaotic Customs, of Chapel Hill, Texas was right there to deliver on that desire.
Moving along into the interior, John thought it best to work in matching orange paint from the exterior but let warmer brown tones really set the mood in the cab. Distressed saddle colored leather, vinyl and carpet dominate the show, and keeps the vibe classic and calming. To modernize the confines of the cab, Vintage Air A/C controls the weather, while Dakota Digital LED style gauges and a full sound system highlight the 12-volt electronics found inside. John now has all the modern conveniences one would expect from their daily driver, but inside the exact 34-year-old truck he had wanted to complete.
While the truck sounds like it was run through quick states of progress, let’s just say the project wasn’t rushed by any means. In fact, the build nearly spanned an entire decade from start to finish. “I began the build in 2013, so it’s been a work in progress for almost 8 years”, he admits. “The beginning of the build has a sentimental value to me because my daughter was born in 2013. All the memories from that time with my family and all the hours spent after work helping out at the shop working on my project are all tied into what this truck truly means to me.”
John is a family-oriented man when it comes right down to it, and his patience and willingness to put life’s important things ahead of his truck are both true examples of that. Sure, he would’ve liked to be cruising in his Squarebody long before now, but whatever prevented it to be completed earlier was well worth the wait.
John Reyes • ‘87 C10
- 1987 350 Chevy small block
- Machine work by David Padilla, Austin, TX
- Comp Cams camshaft
- Edelbrock aluminum heads & intake manifold
- Holley alternator and mid-mount drive accessory system
- Holley Sniper fuel injection
- Proform Chevy logo valve covers
- Accel high heat wires
- Stainless steel exhaust system
- Flowmaster 40-series muffler
- 1987 Chevy 700R4 transmission assembled by Richard @ Middle Class Auto, Granite Shoals, TX
- B&M torque converter
- TCI flexplate
- Powdercoated stock frame
- Porterbuilt front Dropmember system
- CPP 2” drop spindles and rack & pinion
- Air Lift ‘bags
- AccuAir air management
- Custom rear two-link w/wishbone
- Air suspension by All-Star Customs
- AZ Pro Performance 14” and 15” crossdrilled rotors
- Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve
- Tanks Inc. stock style fuel tank for EFI
- 22×9 and 24×15 Intro Nitro billet wheels
- 255/35/22 and 405/25/24 Pirelli tires
- Bodywork by Andrew Hernandez, Del Valle, TX
- Spies Hecker Inferno Orange metallic and Cool Vanilla paint by Andrew Hernandez, Maike Sanchez, and Robert Meza
- Graphics, center color, and pinstriping by Alamo Customs, Alvin, TX
- LMC Truck clear headlight lenses, LED taillights and outer mirrors
- GSI billet door handles
- Factory bench seat, Snowden foam inserts, distressed leather upholstery by TICO, Austin, TX
- Original dash wrapped in distressed brown leather
- Dakota Digital gauges
- LMC Truck air vents, carpet and seat belts
- Vintage Air A/C system
- American Autowire front to back by David Padilla
- Intro billet steering wheel
- Retro Sound head unit, DD Audio amps, Kicker components, and shallow-mount 10” sub installed by G’S Audio, Austin, TX