LS-Swapped Patina Pickup: 1971 Chevrolet C-10 Pickup

This 1971 Chevrolet C-10 Pickup has received some useful upgrades and is the sort of vehicle that could easily be used as a daily driver. It is no trailer queen but is an eye-catching classic that offers potential buyers the chance to own a vehicle that is both practical and fun. Located in Bismarck, Arkansas, you will find the Pickup listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $7,657, and with the reserve having been met, it looks like it is a vehicle that is set to find itself with a new owner.

I studiously avoid using the “p” word in my articles, because I know that it can raise the hairs on the back of the neck for some people. However, the C-10 has it in abundance. It looks like the surface corrosion remains untreated, as I can see no obvious evidence of any coating having been applied to preserve it at its current level. I would suspect that the next owner will probably want to apply a coat of clear to protect the appearance of the vehicle. Apart from the visible surface corrosion, there is no actual rust in the vehicle. The floors, frame, cab corners, and the bed all appear to be very solid. The glass is said to be in good condition, while the same would appear to be true of the external trim and chrome. The C-10’s “distressed” look is nicely complemented by the fitting of a shiny new set of wheels.

It isn’t clear what used to lurk under the hood of the Pickup, but it is now occupied by a 5.3-liter LS V8 engine. Hooked to the back of this is a 4-speed 4L60 transmission, while the C-10 is also fitted with power steering and power front disc brakes. This combination should make for a nice cruising vehicle that could still hold its own if it suddenly found itself with some weight in the bed. The owner says that the Pickup runs and drives perfectly, with no smoke or odd noises. He also says that it sounds great, which I don’t find to be at all surprising. Another aspect of the vehicle that should potentially deliver some real benefits is in the area of fuel consumption. It almost doesn’t matter what engine originally occupied the Chevy’s engine bay, this nicely tuned LS should deliver equal or better power, and thanks to advances in areas such as fuel injection and engine management, it should still burn less fuel. The only thing that I can possibly find to be critical of is the exuberant use of detailing spray around the engine bay. I like my engines to present nicely, but…

The interior of the C-10 looks to be largely original, with the exception of the wheel, and the speakers that have been cut into the doors. The owner believes that the cover on the seat is original, and if it is, then it has survived surprisingly well in what is an automotive workhorse. The carpet also looks quite good, as does the headliner. The dash pad has cracked, and it will either need to be repaired or replaced. If you are feeling a bit on the adventurous side, then you could always try tackling it with a product such as Polyvance. It is certainly worth giving it a shot, and you might be surprised by the results. One of the original door trims is missing, but there is a new set in their box to go with the Pickup. The other task that the next owner will need to tackle will be getting the gauges working once again. I’ve left this task until last because it does have the potential to be the most costly. The fuel gauge should be an easy one, and the temperature gauge might only require a bit of fiddling with sensor units to find a unit that is compatible with the engine and can also provide an accurate reading on the gauge itself. In times past, the speedometer was the one gauge that had the potential to be a real headache. Adapting an older speedometer to a more modern transmission was once work reserved for specialists, but not anymore. There are companies that can supply high-quality adaptor kits for this purpose, and while they aren’t cheap at around the $650 mark, they are a kit that can be easily installed in a home workshop. With those issues addressed, the interior should then be both nicely presented, and fully functioning.

I have to admit that as an older guy, it has taken me a while to accept this “distressed” look with classics, but I am also living proof that you are never too old to change. It wasn’t that many years ago that I would’ve been thinking about exactly how I would personally tackle the restoration of the paint and panels on a vehicle like this. Now, I sit back and consider what would be required to preserve its current look. If it was mine, that would be my approach. If it was yours, what would you do?


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  1. Will Fox

    “Instant patina”………….

    Take #80-grit sandpaper strategically over flat surfaces of body panels, such as the hood, tops of fenders, deck lid, etc. in random manner. Try not to sand too hard in any one spot too long. Skip sandpaper randomly along body creases, around gas filler door, etc. to give look of “age”. Leave vehicle out in moist, cold rainy weather over period of a few weeks, or until desired “rust” starts to seep through. Spot-spritz grey or red primer here/there for added effect. Occasionally drag sandpaper through primer for that ‘work in progress’ look. Now add an extra zero to asking price, sit back, and wait for your cell phone to vibrate off the end table with offers.

    Like 10
  2. Chris M.

    Nice truck, exactly how I’d set one up.

    Like 2
  3. DRV

    It’s in its natural left outside in Arizona look but the interior is better than that.
    There is no on purpose aging here.
    This being my favorite truck design I would paint it myself and use it .

    Like 3
  4. S Craig MacDonald

    The speedometer in my ’66 Mustang is off because of radial tire size. Solution: use a speedometer app or that part of the Waze screen to give a more accurate mph than most speedometers. Done! At zero cost.

    Like 4
    • Jack M.

      Agreed, any cheap GPS can do the job, or like you said download an app to your cellphone.

  5. local_sheriff

    Love those larger diameter Rallies! 👍 How come we don’t see more of them?

    Like 2
  6. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Nice vintage pickup but not my cup of tea as is. Clear coat it to preserve it’s worn out, rusty appearance? I don’t think so, it needs a fresh coat of paint. I don’t care for lowered pickups either. I like ’em to look stock so I’d return it to it’s factory height, add stock steel wheels with hubcaps, find a more period correct steering wheel and paint it. The modern driveline will appeal to some though I’m sure more than a few would like to see a four speed stick in it. It will be interesting to see where the bidding ends on this one.

    Like 2
  7. Steve

    I saw a recent write up regarding what I consider to be the best way to preserve a finish like this. It involves a can of barkeepers friends and a scotchbrite pad to clean it then using floor wax to protect.

  8. mk

    Love the truck but the patina thing I just don’t care for. it would not take much to make that thing really sweet.

    Like 1
  9. Mountainwoodie

    I m dying to paint it the factory color :)

    I would be moderately concerned about the gauges needing to be connected properly. Seems to me that once you go to the trouble of installing an LS you ought to finish the job unless health etc gets in the way. Probably a few lurking problems

    Lots of unknowns. But I think this iteration of the C-10, ’67-’72 are some of the best looking trucks ever, if I do say so myself.

    Like 1
  10. ACZ

    Patina, like hell. Rust is rust.

    Like 4
  11. 38ChevyCoupeGuy

    Very cool truck to sure. I have to say one thing, and sort of a question at the same. I’m beginning to cringe at the phase LS swap, also the word patina. Don’t get me wrong I love both,just hearing it like a stuck record player or CD player,etc,etc etc, has become almost a bad sound to my ears. Does anyone else know what I’m referring to, or am I just off my 1.6 rocker?, 😁

    Like 2
  12. Paul

    It is my opinion that the 67 -72 GM pick-up trucks where extremely durable!

    I have seen these trucks working on construction sites and farms day in and day out.. even when they where 30, 40 and even 50 years old with all kinds of “real patina” on them and un-restored…..

    Now people are pulling them off the job putting rims on them and selling them on the collector car market…..kudos to the farmer whom bought one of these new and used it for 45 years on the job and sold it for 5 times what he paid for it new without every restoring it!

  13. Rj

    I don’t mind the PaTuna look but a cancer hunt and repair would be done with a body off full frame restoration. If it hasn’t been lowered correctly it would be redone because I’m afraid they notched the frame. It’s not numbers matching so there is nothing keeping the the buyer from going any direction he wants. I would go for a period correct 402/454 and a 5 speed shifter, and lift it up 2 inches …..

    Like 1
  14. Andrew Franks

    i would not buy it because a)I don’t like white color on anything, it makes cars/trucks look like refrigerators b) I too am not a fan of lowered trucks c) I am sure getting the guages to work with the driveline would be expensive, I’ve never tried it, the alternative being talking to classic guages or aome other vendor who knows what they are doing to see if there is another fit that is in concert with the year/model of the truck.

    Like 1
  15. Doug

    The fuel gauge issue is probably from the sending unit in the tank, possibly not compatible with the gauge if it is part of the electric pump feeding the LS engine’s fuel injection. A full set of gauges to fit can be sourced from Summit, Jeg’s, etc.
    I’d look at what LMC Truck, Brother’s Truck Parts, and various gauge manufacturers offer, with a GPS speedo. I believe that LMC offers a gauge replacement set that looks just like the factory stuff, but with modern technology built in, and that connects to the original wiring – just plug it in.

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      I think you touched on part of it. For many years, the tank unit was a 90 ohm variable resistor. Starting in 1996, with the advent of OBDII, the tank unit became a 256 ohm resistor. The configuration of the typical gauge circuit changed. All LS engines would have been built with OBDII compatible control systems. The fuel level reading goes directly to the PCM and is sent to the IPC via a data bus.

  16. 433jeff

    If im going to have a 68-72 its going to be a 350 4 barrel 350, i really like all the ls upgrades, but i would take the simplicity of the factory motor, the 350 in the 3/4 ton 8 foot bed was a beast, i Wont lower it cuz its a work truck,year after year a work truck, your making money if you turn the key, This was a tough rig you also had the 390 f250, and then came the 12 valve

    Like 1
  17. Michael Streuly

    Bidding up to 9k now.

  18. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I’m not a fan of the patina look, but with the cost of a quality paint job these days I’m inclined to that look. Only thing is I hate the clear coat look over old paint, need another solution.
    God bless America

  19. Martin

    Will Fox U sure know how to screw a perfectly real patinaed truck ,how about a $ 4 Can of brown primer to really trash it !

    Like 1
  20. Troy s

    I hated the slammed mini-truck craze back in the eighties so it would have to be lifted back up and sit level front to back. Paint, I don’t know, my old ’72 was blue another friend had a red ’70,, yet one more coworker had a white beat up one like this with nasty sounding glass packs back in the mid eighties.
    My dumb point being this particular body style has always been popular,
    The LS swap seems like a natural progression as we deal with modern fuel and parts are a plenty. Not a bad truck at all.

    Like 1
  21. TimM

    Really great truck but if I owned it I would paint it!! I saw one of these a couple years ago in Florida and it was an original baby blue color according to the owner and it looked really good on the truck!!! The only bad thing is the inside was the same color which means gutting this truck to paint the inside!!! I guess I’m not feeling ambitious these days!!!

  22. DKW

    Why would anyone go to the trouble to pull an old engine, install a new one, and NOT freshen up the engine bay?!?! Makes the new engine look jerry-rigged and leads me to think the truck would be unreliable (fairly or not, an awful lot is derived from first impressions). Like a few others, here, I am also not a fan of lowered trucks. If you want something low, get a sports car or sedan or even an El Camino. But a truck is supposed to be a truck, even if it is fast. This is especially true if it’s a long bed.

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