Rolling Art

November 17th, 2011

Text by Jason Mulligan and Robert Hensley

Photos by April Vann; Artwork by Bob Thrash, Jake Murry and Tony Ouellette

Designing a Modern Mini Interpretation of the C-10

Planning a complete truck build is no simple task. Aside from selecting various parts from dozens of companies and making sure they all work together, selecting a theme and following it through to the end is a must. When looking to create a plethora of one-off components and parts on a radically redesigned truck, design and planning are of the utmost importance, especially when a few specialized shops will have their hands in different areas of the build. Enlisting the talents of an automotive design artist to sketch renderings is not only the best way to get your ideas onto paper, but also to show the shops and companies involved the game plan. Details are also important and can make or break a design. Designing each area of the truck separately, yet following the same theme and style is the best way to bring in detail work and fine-tune the areas that might be lost in the big picture view. Of course, plans will evolve and change as the build progresses, but having a solid base of one-off designs and parts will help keep things on track and prevent your project from looking like a random bunch of parts just thrown together.

Robert Hensley has always loved mini-trucks that evoke a passion for classic styling. He has learned, thanks to a few redux, that planning and designing all aspects of a custom truck are key factors for success. It’s akin to the measure twice and cut once philosophy that applies to truck building. Robert’s design journey began when he had Tony Ouellette craft a rendering of his S-10. The rendering was pretty standard because Robert also admires the classic 1967-72 Chevrolet C-10 trucks and sought to incorporate some of that styling in his S-10 using side trim reminiscent of the classic design. As things progressed and ideas were gathered from the muscle car and street rod communities, he knew he had to sit down, plan things out and get together with some of the top designers and shops in the industry in order to create a truly unique and one-off rolling piece of artwork.

He enlisted the talents of Thom Taylor, Bob Thrash and Carter Hickman to put their artistic visions to paper. The lines of the redesigned S-10 were modernized and slicked out to create a concept truck image. Thom Taylor and Carter Hickman brought in elements from Audi and Ford cars, respectively, but Robert liked that vintage retro touch that Bob Thrash brought to the table. The exterior styling would be as if Chevrolet designed the ‘67 C-10 in current times. The rendition would be rightfully dubbed the C/S Concept Truck. Bob would not only design the exterior lines and details of the truck, but the interior and underside of the concept truck, as well. Every element from the front suspension to the control arms to the dash and seats would be a one-off creation from the mind of Bob Thrash.

The Exterior

The exterior is one of the most important aspects in designing a custom truck. Shaving handles, drip rails and adding custom front ends are the most common custom elements. But what about radically reworking the sheet metal of a truck platform to turn it into a concept-style truck not easily recognized?

What started as a laid out S-10 incorporating some of the classic C-10 elements turned into a “what if.” What if GM redesigned the C-10 in modern times taking styling cues from both eras? The main C-10 cues come from the 1967 front end, including the grille openings and the hood, but with slicker lines for a more modern appearance. The lower beltline molding will most likely be airbrushed. Out back, custom taillights would replicate the C-10 shapes, but be produced out of machined Lexan. The indent stamp and Chevrolet lettering would be borrowed and updated, as well. The roll pan would house the custom exhaust tips and license plate panel. A rear wing borrowed from Thom Taylor’s rendering would be used. The lowered roofline and sleek bodylines would be borrowed. Bob first drew a slanted El Camino-style back end, because it would fit the sleek, smaller S-10 styling, but staying true to the modern C-10 theme would be the goal.

The Paint

Paint is about more than just which color is your favorite. Selecting color schemes that let the bodylines and subtle details of the truck do the hard work is a bit of a challenge. Graphics can help isolate, enhance or distract from the truck, as well. Earth tones lend a touch of class and help let the design and bodylines speak for themselves without being overshadowed by bright graphics and colors.

Bob found his concept in the classic C-10 trim schemes. His first thought was of the wood grain beltline trim on the C-10 Deluxe models to be airbrushed on complete with billet accents. Sticking with the classic C-10 tri-tone, the rockers and top will be hit with walnut pearl; the sides will come in with light beige pearl wrapped in wood grain airbrushing and orange pinstriping. The wheels will be finished in satin bronze. The satin finish lends a more machined, high-tech look to the build.

The Interior

After the exterior, the second thing most people check out on a custom truck is the interior. The basic elements are the same for every truck and design: a dashboard with steering wheel, seats and door panels make up every interior. Tying in elements of the exterior and detail design help with flow and provide the awe factor at shows. The interior is where designers can go wild dreaming up forms and shapes that can be created out of metal, wood and foam and trimmed in leather and billet.

This interior seeks to blend C-10 elements with modern muscle car styling. The C/S Concept Truck will feature a customized 1962 Chevy truck dashboard and modern gauges. Custom bucket seats were modeled after Recaro-style seats complete with a billet scissor hinge design. The door panels are one-off design showcasing the sleek styling.

The Drivetrain

Bob, with his own ideas and some from Robbie Azevedo of Pacific Coast Customs, drew up the concept for the showcase under the hood. “I had an idea to create a plenum with a glass see-through top. It utilizes the trick Inglese velocity stacks and a filter setup from Cook Enterprises. Air would enter from the back of the plenum and draw cool air from the cowl,” Bob noted. Robbie has begun the detailing work smoothing out the welds on the intake manifold and machining pieces to give it a vintage, yet technical look.

The Running Gear

The suspension on a custom truck is often one of the first things completed and the last thought about when it comes to looks and design. The functionality of air suspension and wheel clearance are usually the highest priorities when it comes to selecting and building the suspension. Making artwork from metal and engineering trick suspension setups can help make the underside of the truck as appealing as the rest. This is also key for many show judges who peek under with mirrors and flashlights.

What would a one-off truck be without a set of one-off wheels? Taking a timeless wheel design and modernizing it coincides with the rest of the design theme, so Bob went with the classic Halibrand model with a modern twist. The result blends a classic five-spoke with the Halibrand design, resulting in a wheel dubbed the Thrashstar. Jake Murry took Bob’s sketches and put it into SolidWorks so that Greening Auto Company out of Nashville could machine the one-off wheels in a 20- and 22-inch combo. Keith Sawyer at Nfamus Air Suspension in Dallas has been working on the frame, incorporating custom elements that Bob designed, including one-off billet control arms and a bell-crank-style shock setup. The diamond shaped frame and cradle are unique, as well. After all, this truck has to look just as good underneath as it does on the outside. The rear will consist of billet link bars designed by Tony Ouellette, with a cantilever setup and Winters Performance quick-change rearend.


Bob Thrash

219.713.7124 (http://www NULL.Bobthrash

Carter Hickman Designs (http://www NULL.Carterhickmandesigns

Greening Auto Company (http://www NULL.greeningautocompany

Jake Murry

Consuming Air Design

Nfamus Air Suspension (http://www NULL.nfamusairsuspension

Pacific Coast Customs (http://www NULL.pacificoastcustoms

Tony Ouellette

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