Sunday, July 11, 2021

11th-Annual Southeastern Chevy/GMC All-Truck Nationals brings 1,300 trucks to Lebanon, TN in 2021

2021 marked the 11th year for the Southeastern Chevy/GMC Truck Nationals, and Brian Ashley and his team have made this one of the biggest truck events in the country. Held July 9-10 at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tenn., some 1,300 trucks found their way to the enormous show field. It really is an impressive turnout, as are the 27 specialty trophies that are given out at the end of the day. Bullock’s Bodywerk’s hand makes each award by artfully welding gears, timing chains, and other car parts together into one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Incredibly, the Hover Motor Company ’63 Chevy took home the hardware for “Best Survivor,” an award that I will be proud to display in my garage.

I really liked this Lime Green 1974 Blazer. The wheels were modern because they were big, but had a classic Salt Flat style. The rest of the truck had a really classic look, including the wood grain on the side, which was available when this was new, and a canopy-style roll-up soft top. The interior was stock and flawless, and the grille emblem indicated 350-c.i. of small block power. The Lou Glutz Motors front license plate was a nice touch, recalling the similarly-colored Family Truckster from the movie Vacation.

Here’s another Blazer that really caught my eye. This ’72 K/5 was in the Riffy’s Hot Rods display, but it was one of the more stock-looking trucks in the show. Finished in Crimson Red with black bucket seats, this just had an over-the-top exceptional restoration. A CST model like this one had several luxurious features (by 1972 standards, anyway), like the woodgrain side moldings, some extra bits of chrome, and even an additional horn. This bad boy even had factory air conditioning. I assume you would be more likely to use that after you lifted the gigantic hardtop back in place. Or leave it off. If I had this, I’d want everybody to see me driving it.

Joe Slade drove this 1963 C-10 stepside all the way up from Mississippi. This truck is absolutely nice enough to sit on a turntable at an indoor car show (it actually was displayed at SEMA in 2016), but it is no trailer queen. It has actually been in his family since the 1970s, but it hadn’t actually been driven since 1993. Joe decided to drag it out of his father-in-law’s yard and make it into the pristine driver that you see today. It has a lot of the bits you see on modern builds these days: LS engine, air suspension, Billet Specialties Wheels, etc. But somehow, the way they were applied to this truck really made it a standout among the crowd.

This little ’46 Chevy had all kinds of things to study all around it. It had a great Bentz’s Texaco theme, with hand-painted lettering everywhere, a 57-cent fuel sign, and even a mannequin dressed up like a 1940s Texaco driver sitting at the wheel. The condition of the truck was outstanding. The chrome was perfect, the interior was finished in the correct colors and patterns, and the whitewall tires and steel wheels were spot-on. I learned how to drive in a truck very similar to this, so looking at it brought back a bunch of fun memories for me. I just liked everything about it.

Built only four years after the Texaco truck, but on a completely different level, was this 1950 Chevrolet school bus. This rig had a crowd around it all day. I thought I was never going to get a picture taken! I’m sure you can tell by the way it’s sitting on the ground that this isn’t an ordinary school bus. It’s 100% crazy hot rod, complete with modern LS Chevy power under the hood. The seats sort of have a World War II bomber vibe, and they were bolted to a hardwood floor that would make Bob Vila proud. Don’t let the crusty “patina” finish fool you. This was a high-quality build from the inside-out.

Jim Norton’s ’71 Chevy C-20 looks like it came right out of a new truck catalog. Medium Olive and White isn’t a color combo you’re going to see on a new Silverado, but it was very common in the early ‘70s. This three-quarter ton long bed featured a 350-c.i. V8 that was as pristine as the paint on the outside of the truck, hounds tooth upholstery, and factory air conditioning. The tires were wide and the wheels were big. That’s because this was a big truck in 1971, and it was built to do big work. Although I think maybe the biggest job this truck will be doing these days is dazzling people at shows. I can’t imagine anything this nice will ever be pressed into farm duty or sent out on the camping circuit ever again. That’s fine with me. I loved looking at it.

This radical ’58 Apache took home the Best of Show honors. It had sort of a patina thing going on with the turquoise paint job, but nothing about it was old, worn, or weathered. Honestly, it was so thoroughly customized that it was beyond my level of understanding. The custom-built chassis was visible under a door in the perfectly crafted bed. It had a delicate, turbine-style cover around the air intake, complete with Indian head. I recognized the shape of the ’58 Chevy dashboard, but the seat, carpet, and door panels were all redone with the expertise of an interior designer. With 1,300 trucks in attendance, the Best of Show winner had to be pretty danged good. If you’re looking to take that home next year, here’s what you’re competing against—bring you’re a-game.

I tried to get pictures of all the trucks, but I’m sure I missed a few. They may have been driving around when I got to where they were supposed to be parked. I may have been overcome with the heat and humidity and missed a section. Who knows? I did manage to take 1,274 pictures. I don’t think that was a terrible effort for one guy with a camera. To see all the pictures from the comfort of your air-conditioned home, all you have to do is click this link.

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