“When I was growing up, our neighbor had an early ’90s GMC 1500 shortbed that was slammed,” explained Garrett Harmola, owner of Aldan American. “His truck had a V8 under the hood with a five-speed transmission, and sat on a set of American Racing black steel wheels with Goodyear tires. The thing looked like a NASCAR pickup that was built for the street. I remember the stories our neighbor would tell me and my brother of how well that truck handled when he was driving home from work through the canyon by our house.”
So many times, an experience with a certain vehicle while we were young stays with us. For some, it lingers on as a memory, and nostalgia is kindled anytime we see a variant of whatever it might have been. But for others, those experiences fuel a lifelong passion, and inspire a project that encompasses the memory, years of daydreams, and the true potential of the vehicle – and the builder.
For Garrett Harmola, this C10 is one of those projects. When Garrett explains the memories that he and his brother, Spencer, share around vintage Chevy trucks, it’s easy to see why this is not just an ordinary C10 pickup.
The Initial Plan
“My brother Spencer and I have owned several 4×4 C10 pickups, Blazers, and even Broncos over the years. We both like the design and styling of the 1967-1972 pickups, and decided this generation would be the perfect base for our first two-wheel drive version.”
“The original intention for our C10 build was to have an LS-powered pickup with a manual transmission and a high-performance suspension with coilovers on all four corners. We were looking to build a vehicle that could be a platform we could use for new-product development and display at events for Aldan American Suspension,” Garrett explained.
Garrett’s company, is a suspension company that makes Pro Touring-style suspension systems for many popular American cars and trucks from the muscle car era. The company has developed many of its own coilover shocks that are geared toward the street and handling crowd.
Before the Harmola duo claimed ownership of the truck, it led a fairly simple life. We imagine that it spent its days doing nothing more than basic utilitarian functions. It probably saw use as everyday transportation, and maybe the hauling of hay or animal feed at one point or another. From the looks of the before pictures, it was possibly a basic farm truck. That is, until Garrett and Spencer got their hands on it.
A Failed Start Becomes A New Beginning
“Spencer and I grew up buying and selling cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc., and late one night, I stumbled across this ‘71 short-wheel-base Super Cheyenne while on eBay. The truck was manufactured in Michigan, and through time, made its way out to California.” The auction ended and Garrett was outbid, missing his chance. Or did he.
A short time later, he found out the original winner of the auction backed out of the deal, so the brothers Harmola made the seller an offer and ended up acquiring the C10. It was then that this project truly got started.
As soon as the truck reached Garrett’s garage, it was disassembled and prepped for its new life in the high-performance world. The body was removed from the frame so the skeletal foundation could be stripped, prepped for the mods that were to come, and then powdercoated. The truck retains its arm-style suspension, but it is heavily upgraded. The frame was cut and C-notched to allow the truck to be lowered significantly. This allows for a lower center of gravity and a much more aggressive stance, greatly increasing the truck’s handling capabilities.
“Spencer designed a trailing arm setup that allows us to run coilovers on the outside of the frame rails,” Garrett explained. He used Performance Online tubular trailing arms and Aldan American Regulator Series coilover shocks to give the truck its stance.
To keep the rearend housing squarely positioned under the truck, a Watts link was added to prevent lateral movement when loads are applied to the chassis. Unlike a Panhard bar, a Watts link does not travel on an arc, and keeps the rearend housing truly centered at every point in the suspension’s range of motion. The rearend is a GM 12-bolt housing that has been built and outfitted with a positraction differential and 4.11 gears.
My brother and I were originally looking for a desert tan/military color similar to that found on Humvees and JLTVs . – Garrett Harmola
Moving forward, the frontend was upgraded with a bolt-on A-arm front suspension from Scott’s Hot Rods. Wilwood brakes live in all four corners (14-inch front, 12-inch rear) and are more than capable of handling the braking duties on the street and track. Wilwood also supplied the 2-inch drop spindles.
“The engine is an LS1 with a T56 six-speed that was taken out of a 1999 SS Camaro,” Garrett told us. “It has a “mild” cam, headers, bigger injectors, and a better intake. The engine makes around 425 horsepower.” The fairly basic motivating combination is perfect for a highly reliable street and track project. Although the engine is common, the color is anything but.
“The paint is a factory color from Porsche, called Modegrau (aka: Fashion Grey), Garrett told us. “My brother and I were originally looking for a desert tan/military color, similar to that found on Humvees and JLTVs. I was in Manhattan Beach, California, one day and saw a 2015 Porsche GT3 drive by that was painted in the Modegrau color. I knew that was it! After searching several Porsche forums and websites, we found the exact paint code we were searching for. The color turned out perfect.”
The truck rides on a set of Intro wheels, which do a great job of bringing the build together. “We had the wheels powdercoated a matte-black, and it contrasts nicely with the military look we were going for,” Garrett adds. The wheels measure 18×10 front, and 18×12 rear, and are wrapped in Nitto 555R tires in 335/30ZR18 and 285/35ZR18. The Nittos add boat loads of traction, complementing the highly customized suspension system.
“The truck was completed in late-2017, and our first event was at the Muscle Car Challenge at Fontana Auto Club in Southern California,” Garrett explained. “Prior to the event, we blew out the clutch slave-cylinder on the transmission. That means we competed the entire day on the road course, 100-yard dash, and slalom course with a clutch soaked in brake fluid. That being said, the truck performed pretty well, ” said Garrrett.
He finished with, “We’re finally going through the truck and installing a new clutch and slave cylinder, and upgrading some fuel components. The interior is also being buttoned up, and we’re almost ready to get this rig back on the road. Our plans are to have the truck at a couple of Goodguys car shows here on the west coast in 2018.”
What was once a utilitarian hauler of supplies has become a force to be reckoned with, thanks to the Harmola brothers. It is solid proof that second chances can have first-class results.