Crew Chief 3+3: A 1979 C10 Crew Cab with a Modern LS376/525
WORDS: DAN HODGDON
PHOTOS: LUCAS PRIAMO and NATE LIGHT
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As a young man in Alabama, Rodney Harris learned to drive with a C10 pickup. Years later, his custom 1979 C10 Silverado Crew Cab is a highlight of every show it attends. Harris and builder Rutterz Rodz’ goal was to build the vehicle in such a way as General Motors might have offered a C10 crew cab short-bed truck in the 1970s, but with modern characteristics.
With that in mind, the truck features a Chevrolet Performance LS376/525 crate engine* under the hood.
Rodney Harris’ custom 1979 C10 Crew Cab short-bed pickup is powered by a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System. Rutterz Rodz was responsible for the truck build.
“It's just a cool truck, it runs great, it drives great, it's just a cool piece,” Harris said during November’s Goodguys Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Harris hails from Hamilton, Alabama, and now lives in Leighton, northwest of Birmingham. He is an integral part of the automotive hobby in addition to his work making metal building systems.
“My daddy was a mechanic when I was a kid growing up, so we worked on cars and tractors and all that stuff,” he said. “I just love cars and I just grew into where this is my deal. I have a shop full of cars at home and it's just one of the things that I love to do.”
Upholsterer Ricky Howard dubbed the truck “Crew Chief 3+3.”
He began work on the truck himself, but realizing he was too busy to finish, called his friend Mike Rutter at Rutterz Rodz in Bristol, Tennessee, to complete the project.
The square-body truck started life as a C30 Silverado Crew Cab 3+3 Camper Special dually, but it has been modified into a unique C10 crew cab pickup with a short bed and only features two tires on the rear axle. The truck is badged as “Crew Chief 3+3,” with Harris explaining that upholsterer Ricky Howard came up with the name and logo because the vehicle is similar to what a crew chief for a race team might use to haul the car and tools.
The Chevrolet Performance LS376/525 crate engine* has been customized to look like a Big-Block.
Among the truck’s modern upgrades is an LS376/525 crate engine. The crate power plant is based on the venerable, standard LS3 but incorporates an aggressive ASA camshaft helping it make 525 horsepower and 486 lb.-ft. of torque. However, Harris’ utilizes a variety of Lokar parts to give the engine a classic Big-Block look.
“We started with a different LS and then we decided that we were going to put a brand new one in it,” Harris said. “We really like the LS376 because of the sound and the camshaft, and it’s not a real quiet engine.”
The engine is mated to a SuperMatic 4L70-E four-speed automatic transmission featuring a 495 lb.-ft. torque limit. The engine and transmission came as part of a Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System, one of dozens of factory-matched options featuring a crate engine, transmission, controllers, a torque converter (for automatic transmissions) and installation kits.
Installation of the engine was relatively easy, so much so in fact that it often fools passersby.
“All the adapters and all the stuff we did worked out great,” Harris said. “It looks like it should have come in there. With the Lokar LS Classic stuff on it, it looks like a Big-Block Chevrolet. A lot of people walk up and say, ‘Oh cool this is a Big-Block,’ they don't actually realize it's a fuel-injected LS.”
The C10 features the Silverado trim level. The truck has been modified but remains on the stock GM frame. Also note the orange-line tires and Wilwood brake calipers.
The truck is still on its original frame, although it has been shortened, and all the sheet metal is originally from GM as well. The front suspension is from GSI and half-ton GM leaf springs are in the rear. Harris and Rutter also incorporated the factory bed from a donor truck.
The truck is painted blue on the top and bottom and silver in the center using the original GM paint codes, although that color scheme is inverse of its original layout to create a distinct look. All body seams have been filled and the truck incorporates extensive subtle modifications on the exterior that a standard enthusiast might not even notice, but a C10 aficionado would appreciate.
The interior utilizes a checkered blue-and-orange scheme to tie the truck’s colors together.
The truck’s unique appearance extends to its orange-line tires matched with Wilwood brakes featuring orange calipers.
“We kind of have mixed emotions from people about the calipers, whether they like the orange or not, but it stands out,” Harris said.
The interior stands out, too, with many modifications by Ricky Howard (Built by Ricky). One of the most noticeable is the checkered blue-and-orange pattern on the seats inspired by the famed sports car scheme from the 1960s. Plus, the pattern extends the look of the tires and brake calipers to the inside of the truck.
Multiple 3D-printed parts are in the interior as well, including the door panels and even the VIN is in a 3D-printed plate. Classic Instruments instrumentation is in the leather-wrapped dash.
Rodney Harris is a longtime performance enthusiast with an extensive vehicle collection.
The truck has deservedly won a wide variety of awards, including the Hot Hauler Award at Goodguys Scottsdale. Rutterz Rodz also has an award-winning pedigree. The shop was honored as the 2023 Goodguys Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year in the GM Iron category for its 1941 Willys build.
As for Harris’ 1979 Crew Chief 3+3, the LS376/525 is an ideal choice for a restomod project, but one that is supposed to look like it came from the late ’70s.
“I love the sound of this and how it works,” Harris said.
The whole build works, too.
Keep watching The BLOCK for more from the Goodguys Southwest Nationals and a wide variety of Chevrolet Performance-powered builds.
*Because of its effect on a vehicle’s emissions performance, this engine is intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. This engine is designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public roads, streets or highways. Installation or use of this engine on a vehicle operated on public roads, streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, and state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.