1970 Chevrolet C10 – Unique Cars mag staff cars

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

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IMG 4683 1970 Chevrolet C10 power steering pump IMG 4683
IMG 4685 1970 Chevrolet C10 350 Chev crate motor IMG 4685
IMG 4690 1970 Chevrolet C10 IMG 4690
IMG 4692 Glenlyon Motors has been our workshop of choice. IMG 4692
IMG 4694 1970 Chevrolet C10 IMG 4694
IMG 4727 Mick with the Hillbilly Express IMG 4727

Giving some overdue care and attention to the Hillbilly Express

you wouldn’t want to be a fleet car in the next life. Least of all one owned by a car mag. It’s not that we’re cruel to the C10, it’s just that having many drivers means it has no owner as such.

That’s recently changed, as I’ve taken the Hillbilly Express, as it’s affectionately known, under my wing and am using it more or less as a daily driver. That way, someone notices when it’s not running right or it’s leaking power steering fluid.

All things considered, it’s lasted well, but it was time for a freshen-up. Young Mick over at Glenlyon Motors – the man who built Project Torana – did the honours.

The power steering was the biggest issue. If it fails, the truck is literally undrive-able and a sudden failure means you become an instant passenger. The leak had got so bad you couldn’t really tell where it was coming from, and it was only after a clean-up that Mick found a split in one of the high-pressure hoses. Not as ugly (or expensive) as it could have been.

Next was a general service. We’re running a small block Chev 350 crate engine, which gives the beastie far more straight line performance than looks might suggest.

Mick’s advice: use a good mineral-based oil, such as Penrite HPR30. Though a change of plugs, fluids and filters would normally be fine, he also recommends popping off the rocker covers and measuring the valve lash.

"These engines can suffer a bit of valve recession, so it pays to check them," he warns. "However they’re incredibly tough.

"Just give them a couple of minutes to warm up in the morning and they’ll take any amount of abuse."

At some stage in its life the truck has been lowered and, while it looks cool, it rides and handles only slightly better than your average bullock dray over anything other than smooth surfaces. We’re sorely tempted to raise it a little to recover some of the much-lamented suspension travel, which would not only make it more comfortable, but a safer handling package.

That will also be a good time to ditch the tyres – BF Goodrich of unknown vintage – and get fresh rubber. At the moment it’s like a Rhino on roller skates in the wet. It seems like a good hard look from the driver next to you is enough to make the back end break away.

Other than that, it’s a stress-free thing to drive. It drinks fuel like it’s free, but is a useful load-hauler and can be very benign to steer. After all, the lazy V8 and auto trans recipe, matched to power steering and halfway reasonable brakes, is about as easy as it gets. Oh, and it has a hell of a presence in traffic!

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