Sunday, July 12, 2020

10th-Annual Southeastern Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals was the biggest ever

2020 has been hard on big car shows. The big pandemic has shut down some of the biggest and best events in the country, often ending decades of annual streaks. That wasn’t the case last Saturday in Lebanon, Tenn., however. The Southeastern Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals went ahead with their 10th- Annual event, this year moving to the sprawling Wilson County Fairgrounds. And bucking trends, this was by far the largest SETN yet. 1,023 GM trucks registered for this show, drawing entries from all over the United States and Canada. Bryan Ashley, his family, and friends have really built this into a “must-attend” event for truck enthusiasts. 

Have you ever seen one of these? Yeah, me neither. It’s a 1972 Chevrolet Veraneio, which was a Suburban-style carrier for the Brazilian market. It is an odd little bugger, with various bits and pieces that are recognizable from older model Chevy vehicles, such as the door handles, gauges, and steering wheel. This would have had an inline six when it was new, but someone couldn’t resist lowering it and adding a V8. It certainly got my attention, because it was just so unusual, especially here in the U.S. The size of this sort of made it that era’s Traverse to the Suburban. It was a pretty cool little rig.

“Squarebody” is the term used to describe Chevy trucks from 1973 to 1987, and they have really taken over the scene over the past few years. They can be short beds, long beds, even big old 3+3s, but there’s usually a formula used to build them. They usually sit low on an air ride suspension, big wheels and brakes are a must, and they almost always have later-model LS power under the hood. One of the prettier ones to my eye was this bright blue ’78 short bed. The whole thing was just as slick as can be, and even the interior had an understated, yet modern look. Among a huge field of these trucks, this one stood out as a particularly high-quality build.

These K5 Blazers are also pretty popular within the Squarebody community. This ’78 Blazer really stood out among the crowd. Brown is almost never my choice, but somehow it works here. The ‘70s-inspired stripes down the sides and hood really contribute to this. Chevy did offer some stripe packages from the factory, but I don’t think there were any exactly like this. Naturally, this one has the requisite stance and wheels, and the interior features a bold plaid interior. Plaid interiors were also a factory option, although this one seems to have a low-back custom configuration. There were several Blazers with some form of plaid interior, nodding to the popularity of that trend right now.

There were a handful of very nice ‘90s-era trucks at this show, including this 1989 (yeah, I know, one year short) K1500 step side. This fancy four-wheel-drive Silverado was treated to a conversion upgrade when it was new. It has fancy door graphics, a carpeted bed floor (!), and a big “Wright Carriage” emblem affixed to a thick panel of pine on the dashboard. This is the style of truck that replaced the Squarebody in 1988, and at the time it was a huge modern advancement. This particular truck with all these upgrades would have really been a Mac Daddy machine back in the day, and it still looks like new.

This is not your normal, everyday S15 pickup. In 1991, GMC built 2,995 Syclones, which were the fastest truck you could buy at the time. These had a 4.3-liter turbocharged V6 that was good for 280-hp and a 13.4-second quarter-mile. That might not seem too outrageous today, but it was Corvette-like performance at the time. With few exceptions, they all looked just like this one: black paint, red graphics, ground effects, and flat-slotted aluminum wheels. Now here’s the crazy part. You can buy a nice ’91 Corvette for under $10,000. This Syclone was for sale with an asking price of $32,500. The popularity of old trucks knows no bounds.

The ’67-’72 trucks seemed to dominate the old truck scene for years, and there still are a bunch of them out there. Of course, I am a fan of straight, original old vehicles, and this ’69 C-10 really trips my trigger. In 1975, this Saddle short box with its ubiquitous camper shell would have completely blended into the background. But somehow, it has managed to survive more than 50 years completely unmolested. It has a black vinyl seat, a three-on-the-tree, and no radio. The thin, original paint and white painted bumpers and hubcaps just add to the simple charm. Was this the most dazzling truck at the show? No, obviously not. But in a sea of dazzling trucks, that’s exactly why this one stood out.

I don’t write much about my old ’63 C-10, but it looked good in this picture, it’s my website, and I’m going to give it a little shout-out today. I bought it almost 15-years ago from my in-law’s neighbors in Harvard, Nebr. Over the years, I’ve cleaned it up, added some period-correct accessories, and fixed or maintained some minor mechanical issues. But for the most part, it is very original. It still has its 230-c.i. inline six and three-speed stick. I’ve probably driven it to 300 car shows and cruises, and it has never caused any major problems. I really like it, because we can use it to haul things when we need a truck, but I can also take it to things like this. It’s far from perfect, but it has been good to me.

I try to take pictures of every vehicle at the show. I also try to write about the one that wins best of show. That being said, I completely missed taking a picture of the big winner. It might have been at the judging area when I was there, or I could have just gotten turned around and missed it. I did take this picture of it last October in Goodlettsville, so this picture is going to have to do. Everything about this ’54 GMC was built with quality. The Sunset Orange-type paintjob was flawless. The quilted leather seats were rich and luxurious. The way they upholstered the tire cover to match the seats was also a nice touch. It had a lot of the usual checklist covered. Of course, there was a billet aluminum-drenched Chevy small block, Vintage Air, aftermarket gauges, steering wheel, tilt column, and modern aluminum wheels. All of that stuff was done to formula. But it was such quality work, especially with the paint and upholstery, that you almost had to take a second look.

I took 1,067 pictures at the 10th-Annual Southeastern Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals. You can see the entire album by clicking this link.

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