Our love of custom trucks and hot rods is like catching bug, and it’s usually acquired at a very young age. Generally caught by the frequent sight of our fathers wrenching on their cars in the driveway, or attending car shows and riding in the middle seat.
Lee Milinich of Hanford, California, was born with the bug, and it was nurtured at a young age thanks to his father’s business, Lewis Milinich Body Shop. Lee lent a helping hand and learning the family trade as he was growing up. Now he works full-time at the shop as a painter. Along the way, Lee and his family have crafted a few wild custom creations. One of the first for Lee was his ‘68 C-10. Lewis picked up the C-10 as a shell for a mere $150. Before he could even drive it, he and his dad worked on it together, creating one of the cleanest and most eye-catching classics at the time it was first completed back in 2004. The truck was laid flat on the ground over 20-inch billets, shaved smooth and painted a loud yellow hue. After a few years, a makeover was planned to bring the truck up to and beyond current levels.
Lee sought to draw attention to his truck in a different manner. Current trends are headed towards a more subtle and clean look with plenty of mods rather than an in-your-face loud creation. But Lee wanted to update and bring the C-10 to the next level and drop jaws with the radical mods, while maintaining a clean and timeless appeal. The result was a complete teardown and rebuild thanks to the talented hands of the Milinich family, Lee, Lewis and Shane, along with a few friends, including Ray Greenlee, Canaan Smith, Eric Abbott, Pony and Mike Scott.
Before we jump into the rebuild, let’s backtrack and show the suspension work and motor build-up that was and still is top-notch today. Lee and his father reworked the factory frame, complete with a 2 x 4-inch back half. The rest of the frame was shaved 2 inches and boxed in to lay the C-10’s rockers flat on the ground. The front cross member was raised 3 1/2 inches to finish the job. A custom-built 4-link out back was crafted before the whole frame was smoothed and painted silver by Ray Greenlee and Lee. Up front, a few things changed with the recent redux. BellTech 2 ½-inch drop spindles mate to tubular control arms. Massive 14-inch Wilwood brakes with six-piston calipers were added for stopping power, along with the massive 24-inch Intro Vista wheels. During its yellow period the truck had 20-inch wheels. Lee knew he had to step it up, literally, and went with 24 x 8.5-inch and 24 x 10-inch Intro Vista billet wheels that have been just dipped in 265/25R24 and 275/25R24 Toyo Proxes 4 tires. The steering has been converted to rack-and-pinion that is connected to an ididit steering column. The smoothed rearend is a Ford 9-inch taken from a ’77 Lincoln and outfitted with a Detroit Locker unit with 4.11 gears and Moser axles.
Powering that rearend and the massive 24-inch billets is a built motor that was machined .030 over to a 406 by Hanford Auto Supply. A Scat crankshaft throws and pulls Eagle rods and TRW forged pistons along with the COMP Cams camshaft. The motor is topped off with Air Flow Research cylinder heads with COMP Cams pushrods and lifters. Finally, a Professional Products Hurricane intake manifold holds a Holley 850 four-barrel double-pump carb that is sparked by MSD distributor and coil. The 480-hp motor is cooled down by an aluminum water pump, Classic Auto Air dual electric fan and Be Cool radiator. The motor was dressed up finally with nostalgia-inspired Streamline finned valve covers and air cleaner. A March Performance serpentine pulley kit and Sasche hood hinges finish this off. Mated to the built motor is a Turbo 400 tranny with a B&M shift kit and B&M 11-inch Holeshot convertor with a stall speed at 2500.
Let’s move on to the body of the truck, the Milinich family specialty. Having grown up around custom cars and trucks and worked in the family business, the Lewis Milinch Body Shop, since he could hold a piece of sandpaper, Lee knew he would have to showcase his family’s bodywork talents. During the first go-around, the C-10 was dressed in bright yellow paint with a body shaved smooth from front to back. Up front, the grille shell was smoothed out and welded up to the front fenders. With a Brothers Trucks roll pan and Grant Kustoms skin smoothing out the back, and the job was done.
To bring the truck to the next level, more work would need to come out of the welder and grinder. Lewis, Lee’s father, brought the scalp of the roof down 2 inches for a clean, yet truly custom look. Then, the entire front end was welded up from grille to fenders to cowl and cab. Mike Scott raised the bed floor 6 inches during the first go-around, and a bedliner topped off the bed floor. The liner was stripped during the second round of modifications, and Ray and Canaan smoothed the bed floor and painted it to match. Canaan also is responsible for the custom taillights that were made using Hi Tech LED lenses and a Spaghetti LED kit.
At this point a color change was long overdue. The yellow paint was stripped and the truck was primered and blocked smooth. Lee mixed up a custom Dupont Chromabase Blue and sprayed it over the entire truck before buffing it to a shine. Once the paint was complete, Justin “Pony” Carrillo from Chad’s Auto Glass stepped in and installed the crystal clear glass front and rear. No side windows were installed. The ongoing joke is that during the rush to finish the truck the first time, the windows were left out. Now the truck is setup to never have side glass again.
Of course, you can’t redo a truck without revamping the interior. Subtle and clean was the name of the game, so all of the interior yellow paint morphed into blue, and the gray upholstery was traded for classic hot rod black leather. Raude at Big Daddy Upholstery in Pixley, California, handled the new kick panels and door panels and reworked the Rod Doors bench seat before wrapping it. A Billet Specialties Rattail steering wheel mates up to an ididit steering column. The No Limit gauge panel remained from the first built and is powered by a full Painless wiring harness.
Once completed, Lee debuted the truck alongside his family’s other metal creations at the Pismo Beach Classic Car Show, a family tradition. The bond shared by the Milinich family is as strong as the welds they put to their own and their customers’ cars every day.