Sunday, July 15, 2018

8th-Annual 2018 Southeastern All Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals. It was really hot, but at least it didn't rain

Chevrolet trucks. They’re one of the most durable icons in the history of America. Today a vintage Chevy truck resonates like a worn pair of Levi’s jeans or a favorite pair of boots. Their owners love them the same way they love their dog or even their oldest and closest friend. Sure, these trucks were designed to trudge through fields, haul hay, and drag trailers. But they have become much more than that. That passion is exceedingly evident when you visit the Southeastern All Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals at Moss-Wright Park in Goodlettsville, Tenn. The owners of more than 500 trucks spent the entire day in near 100-degree heat to be with like-minded owners. This is the premiere gathering for these trucks east of the Mississippi. Of course, when you get this many trucks together, you’re going to find several outstanding examples.

This K/5 Blazer is a one of them. Other that a little bit more meat in the rolling stock, this is about what you would expect to see in a Chevy showroom in 1972. This fantastic 4X4 came with the top-of-the-line 350 small-block and even factory air conditioning--not that you’re going to need it with the roof removed. All that black vinyl might soak up quite a bit of sun, though. The Chevrolet Cushion Grip steering wheel is a popular period-correct modification and a nice touch on these. If you like Blazers, you like this one.

When you go to a show like this, you might get the impression that more old trucks have been fitted with late-model LS engines than there are those with the original engines. It’s an extremely popular conversion, although some are better than others. At the 2018 Southeastern Truck Nationals, this one was deemed better than all the others. Darryl Yates’s ’68 C-10 was awarded the Best-of-Show trophy, which can be attributed to its meticulous build-quality. Chris England did the work on this one, and managed to make that modern LS3 V8 look like it came in there. There was a lot of nice finishing work, but you know it’s good because it’s hard to tell. Anniversary Gold-over-Ivory is a subtle-but-striking color combination to tie the whole thing together.

This ’56 3100 was considerably different than most of the trucks at this show. It had a ‘50s custom vibe, with chrome wheels and conical centers, Buick portholes, and scallops with pinstripes accenting the primer. I was actually drawn to the interior more than anything. The red-and-white combo nailed the look. It had white pleated door panels with perfectly styled red accents. The seat was white vinyl with vintage-looking red fabric inserts. It even had a hang-on air conditioner in there to keep things as cool as they looked. The primer finish might have thrown you off at first glance as to how nice this truck actually is, but upon closer inspection, you can see that they really sweat the details.

“Square Body” Chevy trucks are those built between 1973 and 1987, and they’re really coming on in popularity these days. Most of them are lifted, or lowered, or otherwise modified. But there is something to be said for leaving one the way it came. Take this ’86 C-20 Custom Deluxe long bed. The informational card said “rebuilt stock,” and they didn’t take too many liberties with their interpretation of stock. The only significant addition was a tonneau cover. This was a pretty basic truck, with a 350 engine, rubber mats, and vinyl seats. But it looks great sitting there. It’s so familiar. It wasn’t that long ago that trucks just like this were everywhere. Now it’s a treat to see it at a show.

This rig got tons of attention throughout the day. It looks really similar to a ’67 C-10. The entire front clip, the bed, the shape of the doors, even the Light Green color is straight out of the 1967 order guide. But then you notice that the proportions are a little off. The top is a different shape. The stance and the modern chrome wheels seem unusual. You’ve probably guessed this, but if you look through the window or under the front-tilting hood, you quickly realize that this is a new-style truck with all the old exterior styling cues worked in. This really does have the basic look of an old truck with all the amenities of a new one. Sometimes that blending of vintage and modern doesn’t work at all, but I think this one pulls it off pretty well.

This ’66 C-10 Custom Cab short bed was another standout. It was restored to mostly original specs, although the engine compartment had been upgraded with a later-model V8 engine, Vintage Air, and about 500-pounds of chrome. There were a bunch of hard-to-find GM accessories sitting in the seat, including a tachometer and dash clock. The owner mentioned that he didn’t want to drill any more holes in his otherwise pristine truck, which I guess I can understand. He did bring himself to mount the under-dash tissue dispenser and another radio. There were several trucks of this style at the show, but not many really nice stock examples like this.

Promoting this show is a major undertaking, and it wouldn’t be possible without Bryan Ashley and his family. I first wrote about it when I moved to Nashville in 2014, and there were 84 trucks there. This one had 504 trucks from all over the country, so we’re talking about some major growth here. During that time, Bullock’s Bodywerk’s has made some of the coolest trophies I have ever seen out of car parts they weld together, and I had the great fortune to take one home for the “Best Survivor” category this year for the ol' HMC '63 C-10. It’s quite an honor to win something like that when you consider the intense competition at this event.

I sweated and wheezed my way all over this show, and managed to bust-off 692 pictures before I was overcome with heat stroke and died. I tried to get a picture of everything, but it’s possible that I got confused and missed a few when my brain melted. Anyway, you can see all the pictures by clicking this link.

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