This 1972 Chevy C-10 Is America Personified
Photography by Andrew Golseth
Not that it’ll come as a surprise to you, but we don’t really feature trucks that often here at Petrolicious. Although there are plenty of awesome pickups of tasteful vintage worth covering, trucks just aren’t our forte. That said, I thought this little jade colored gem was worth sharing and here’s why.
My wife and I moved to San Diego two and a half years ago. Within our first week of living on Point Loma, I noticed this old humble green Chevy parked on our block. I soon met the owner, Mike Johnson, who just so happened to be the neighborhood gearhead. Mike is a California native with a serious passion for surfing and spinning wrenches—he’s always got something cool he’s fixing up for a friend or client.
From motorcycles, to air-cooled Volkswagens, to pre-war Packards, there is no machine Mike is afraid to work on. He’s an anti-brand-loyal car enthusiast but despite his random stable, he prefers to daily drive this 1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne-10. Now, most classics aren’t so great to rely on for the daily run, but while this truck is nearing 45 years of age, it’s got more amenities than you likely imagine.
Turns out, this final year C-10 short bed was heavily optioned from the factory, special ordered by someone with excellent taste. As you can see from the build sheet, still adhered to the inside of the massive glovebox door, this truck was loaded with air-conditioning, power steering, heavy duty suspension, power assist disc brakes, and more—pretty much all the bells and whistles.
But it’s not just the spec list that makes this truck so special—when was the last time you came across a C-10 in this kind of condition? Unfortunately, it seems the majority of these handsome pickups were used as intended—abused workhorses driven for utility. As a result, the examples remaining on the road today are pretty tired. So, naturally when I see Mike out driving this, or even when I catch it parked, I stop to take it in.
I look it over, smiling at all the little details. It’s cliché, but they don’t make’em like they used to. The minimalistic shape is so honest in its presentation as a practical piece of equipment, yet it’s perfectly proportioned and has style trucks after its era have failed to match.
Every time I see this truck, I stop to appreciate it. The beautiful green metallic paint, the egg crate grille, the slab chrome bumpers, the box stamped mirrors, and the uninterrupted arced shoulder line—I even love the cheesy faux wood veneer trim. Mike has kept the aesthetics original but opted to lower the truck a few inches for a more balanced stance.
Things inside are just as pleasant. There’s an attractive rubber rimmed three-spoke metal steering wheel, large dials with bright orange needles, and a metal dashboard with integrated air-con controls, radio, and a jumbo-sized glovebox. Even the charcoal and green houndstooth seat covers are hard not to get nostalgic about. When did trucks go all wrong?
When Mike first scored this hauler it was running rough. The original engine has long been removed in favor of a standard 350 crate engine coupled to a three-speed auto. Mechanically ironed out, from cold it fires to life effortlessly and idles in the most stereotypical American V8 audio. Pull the doors shut with a satisfying clunk, drop the column shift to D, and feel the truck hunker down as it engages first gear.
Thanks to the factory optioned power steering, cranking the helm is far easier than expected while offering tangible connection modern steering-by-wire systems just can’t compare to. Fully off the brake pedal, the truck carries itself eagerly even before applying throttle. It’s a truck. Sure, there are some squeaks, but nothing that detracts from the fact this is a well-built automobile.
Yes, this truck is in exceptional shape. It’s been partially restored, but it’s not perfect. There are some minor dings, a few signs of light rust trying to make their way through the flattering green finish, but that’s fine. In fact, a peek inside the scarred bed floor reveals the truth: Mike uses this truck as a truck should be used. This isn’t a show queen or flawless hotrod. This isn’t some 100-point concours king or Barrett-Jackson showstopper. No. This is a solid piece of Americana, from a time when “Made In America” actually meant something.