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MINT2B: The McElroy Family’s Sentimental Journey with a ’66 C10

The McElroy Family’s ’66

How many great personalized license plate ideas have you had that are sadly unavailable once you check with the DMV? We’d bet the number is more than you can probably even remember.  We recently met up with a gentleman named Mike McElroy from Heber Springs, Arkansas, who started shopping around for a unique plate for his beauty of a ’66 C10 while it was still blown apart. He tried his luck with one idea he thought for sure would be available, but it was already taken—by his own cousin, no less. “MCELROY” would have been cool to run on his truck, but Mike’s next plate idea was unclaimed and ended up being much more meaningful for his project. “MINT2B” was truly meant to be. 

Mike has always been into trucks as far back as he can recall. His memory with them goes way back when he was 6 years old riding around in his stepdad’s ’66 C10 longbed “super truck” (that just happened to be mint colored). Luckily, that truck stuck around until Mike was finally able to purchase a ’66 C10 shortbed of his very own that he built with the help of his stepdad and parts from that old “super truck.” Of course, being that young and not truly knowing how cool of a truck he had, Mike ended up selling that “old” truck to buy a newer one.

“I always told myself that I could always buy another one,” he admits. “As I grew older, got married and had kids, and still not having purchased another C10, I began telling myself that I desperately needed to find another old Chevy truck that I could build with my sons and dad.”

Mike did get his hands on a yet another C10 that he had scouted out locally. It was even a ’66 model that had the same factory 283 engine he remembers his dad’s truck having, which was a huge bonus for him. After locking this new truck down and getting it back home, Mike started tinkering with it right away to get it somewhat drivable.

“Long story short, I eventually had to sell this truck, too, since my oldest son Christian Foster was getting ready to go to the United States Marine Corp,” he states. “I knew I couldn’t swing the trip for my family to see him graduate, so a sacrifice had to be made.”

A young man in the Air Force stationed an hour away from Mike came for the truck with a trailer in tow and a handful of cash. Mike asked the buyer if he would give him first dibs to buy the truck back if he ever decided to let it go. He agreed without hesitation, and then loaded the truck on his trailer and drove away.

“On Christmas Day 2014, my dad, Johnny McElroy, told me that he wished I didn’t sell my truck because he was looking forward to building it with me and my sons, but he understood why I had to,” Mike says. “Well, on Jan. 4, 2015, my dad had a heart attack and passed away. Little did I know that my last conversation I ever had with him was about working on that old truck. Roughly three weeks after his funeral, I got an unexpected call from Blaine Meeker, the great guy who bought the truck from me. He had to let the truck go, and of course I was ready to buy it back. He had no idea what I had just gone through, and I can never thank him enough for keeping his word to me.”

Over the following seven years, Mike and his son Colby, along with Mike’s pal Jody, spent every spare minute they had during weeknights, weekends, holidays, and vacation days to build it to where it is now. Mike quickly blew through his initial budget, but after moving some money around, he was able to build the truck of his dreams with two great partners beside him.

“Ninety-nine percent of the work was completed by myself, my son and my best friend,” Mike says proudly. “Between the three of us, we knocked out the engine rebuild, the suspension, bodywork, a fresh coat of mint paint, and most of the interior. I’ve always dreamt of having a magazine-worthy truck, and after the big debut at the C10’s in Mountains show in Arkansas on July 29, 2023, I was logo’ed as a full member of Acrophobia. Thank you to my family, my wife Jennifer, and everyone who helped along the way. All I can hope is my dad is smiling down from Heaven at the man he inspired me to be.”


TRUCK SPECS

OWNER

  • Mike McElroy 
  • 1966 Chevrolet C10
  • Heber Springs, AR
  • Club: Acrophobia

ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN

  • 1966 Chevrolet 282ci V-8
  • Comp Cams camshaft
  • Factory GM intake manifold
  • Holley Sniper 2GC fuel injection, Hyperspark ignition
  • Engine custom painted Chocolate Copper Pearl to match interior
  • Billet pulley system
  • Wires hidden to give motor a stock carbureted appearance
  • 700R4 transmission w/ upgraded crossmember
  • Slosh Tubs high hump conversion

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION

  • 1966 Chevy frame C-notched and pancaked crossmember 1.5 inches
  • Air Lift Dominator D2600 front and rear ‘bags
  • Accuair eLevel+ system and height sensors
  • Monroe shocks
  • 1-inch forward Choppin’ Block control arms
  • CPP modular spindles
  • Custom 4-link fabricated by Jody Brooks and Mike McElroy
  • Chassis powdercoated Hammered Copper Vein and flat black
  • Factory steering box moved up 1.5 inches
  • OEM fuel tank moved behind seat
  • Custom driveshaft by Southwest Speed, Fort Smith, AR

WHEELS, TIRES & BRAKES

  • 22×9 GM transport wheels
  • McGaughys front disc brakes and master cylinder
  • Factory drum brakes

BODY & PAINT

  • PPG Deltron Mint My Mind and White paint w/ Southern Polyurethane clear by Jody Brooks
  • Stock grille and bumpers
  • Slosh Tubz front wheelwells, Hart Fab rear tubs
  • Raised factory bed floor w/ under bed compartment to match

INTERIOR & STEREO

  • Snowden custom seats w/ black vinyl upholstery
  • Custom interior Chocolate Copper Pearl paint
  • Kick panels by Chris Hodges @ Audio Envy, Searcy, AR
  • Door panels by Chad Holiday
  • Dakota Digital RTX instruments
  • Forever Sharp 14-inch nostalgia steering wheel
  • Pioneer stereo
  • Vintage Air climate control

 

A Tribute to a Navy Veteran’s Classic 1966 Chevrolet C10

A Loving Tribute

I’ve often made the joke that stepladders are like real ladders, they just love you half as much. Stepfathers are in fact sometimes much better than real fathers in that they give their all to love and guide their stepchildren. Michael Hardwick of Manito, Illinois, can vouch for that statement as his stepfather Dave Ward was his role model as he grew up. Dave had been in the United States Navy for 20 years and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in every realm of his day-to-day life. One of the many things Dave loved was his classic truck. 

“He bought the ’66 back in the early 70’s,” Michael tells the 10 Builder’s Guide. “It was his living and his passion.”

Originally the ’66 was a service station truck but then became a delivery truck for his trucking company. The C10 even made some trips to Canada, so it was showing a bit of wear and tear. Dave had made a few attempts to restore the now classic but found that after a couple health issues it was best to pass it along to Michael for the restoring process. After a couple of conversations with his stepfather, Michael decided he was going to shorten the stock longbed and make it a stepside. After cutting and welding, Michael found the frame was in bad shape, so instead of doing extensive repair work, he went to see the guys at the Roadster Shop in Northern Illinois.

They showed Michael the process and some of the builds they had done with their chassis, and he decided at that time it was the much better route to buy the complete chassis. Although Michael still had to cut about 12 inches out of the frame just behind the cab, it worked out brilliantly. With the bodywork coming along, Michael wanted to add some immediate giddy-up into the Chevrolet, so he found a 2005 Chevy Van and pulled the motor and transmission. His two sons, Michael Jr. and Matthew, assisted in the process of rebuilding and then decided what other modifications to do. His younger son had the LSA Supercharger from a project he had been working on and decided to add it to the C10. Automotive Machine in Pekin did the machine work to prep the block and crank. The transmission was built by Ron Brooks of Brooks Automotive in Tremont, Illinois.

With the motor now prepared for the Illinois roads, Michael turned his attention to the bed of the truck. He bought a complete bed from LMC and had it welded instead of the normal bolt-on process. He added a rollpan and 1937 Ford taillights. Michael had mocked up the hidden latches and the bed floor, and Joseph Thomas did all the masterful welding. Inner wheel tubs were installed, and he filled in the stake pockets and bed rails for Michael. Michael was able to find some red oak to mount into the bed.

During this process, the most unfortunate thing happened:  Michael’s stepfather passed away. Michael went to his mother, Patricia, and they discussed how he would have liked to see the truck finished. One of the things that stood out was the paint. Although the original color was fire engine red, Michael’s mom assured him that he would have loved a complete color change. The Mica Green with the Champagne-colored top seemed to give the classic Chevy just a bit more nostalgia.

Michael and his two sons tackled the entire interior, including all the sounds by cutting the dash for a Pioneer head unit and A/C controls and custom kick panels for the JBL speakers. Behind the seat is a 12-inch Kicker subwoofer with an amplifier. The seats, console, and door panels are all from TMI Interior. The paint is sandstone with a soft touch finish. In front of the newly placed Billet Specialties steering wheel are Dakota Digital RTX gauges. The Vintage Air unit and the iDidIt steering column make the most out of the small interior. Power windows and locks were added for comfort and ease.

Michael first wishes to thank his stepfather Dave and his mother Patricia for trusting him with something of this magnitude that was such a part of his life. He wishes to thank his sons Michael Jr. and Matthew for all their time, dedication, and knowledge. A special thanks to his wife Connie for not complaining about how much time and money was going into this passion project. Thanks to Joe Thomas at Pekin Alignment and Autobody, Ryan Skaggs at Ryan’s Muffler in Peoria, Illinois, Matt Bell at Redline Automotive in Bloomington, Craig at Brian Tooley’s Racing for the engine parts, Casey Wegner from Wegner Motorsports, Manney and Calvin at Automotive Machine in Pekin and Jacob Porter at TMI Interiors.


BUILD SPECS

OWNER

  • Michael Hardwick
  • Manito, IL
  • 1966 Chevrolet C10 Stepside

CHASSIS

  • Front Suspension: Hypertech Coilovers, rack and pinion steering, 11-inch Baer disc brakes and rotors drilled and slotted, 4-piston caliper, 1-inch sway bar
  • Rear Suspension:  4-link, Hypertech Coilovers 2-inch drop spindles, Strange 9-inch with 3.50 gearing, 1 1/8-inch sway bar, 11-inch rotors drilled and slotted with 4-piston calipers

DRIVETRAIN

  • Engine: 6.0L, BTR stage 3 cam, ported and polished GM Performance heads, LSA Supercharger with ported snout and throttle body, 2.5-inch upper pulley, Ultimate headers, Wegner Motorsports accessary drive and custom valve covers with coil covers, Wilwood master cylinder, custom engine cover by Joe Thomas with stencil work by Gooch Customs, Billet Specialties power steering reservoir, Dewitt radiator with dual spal fans, custom built inner cooler tank, All American Billet hood hinges
  • Transmission: 4L80e with 2800 stall, billet triple disc 9.5-inch torque convertor, Revmax converter
  • Rearend:3.50 gear, 9-inch rear

BODY/PAINT

  • Roadster Shop spec series complete chassis, Mica Green metallic with Champaign top done by Joseph Thomas at Pekin Alignment and Autobody in Pekin, Illinois, bed welded together with rear roll pan, 1937 taillights molded in, hidden tail latch, 67/72 inner wheelhouse panels cut down for inner tubs, oak bed floor with flush mount fuel filler cap and stainless trim, stake pockets and rail ends filled in, tailgate stenciled to match the Champaign colored top, solid cowl (ventless) panel,

INTERIOR

  • TMI Buck colored seats, Dakota Digital RTX gauges, Vintage Air, iDidIt steering column, power locks and windows, passive keyless entry, push button start from Guard Dawg, billet cup holders, factory brown LMC carpet, Billet Specialties, dash cuts for stereo and A/C controls
  • Stereo:    Pioneer head unit, JBL components in doors, Kicker amplifier and 12-inch Kicker subwoofer

WHEELS & TIRES:

  • Wheels: 20×10 Ridler 650 series in gray with polished lip
  • Tires: Mickey Thompson 275/35R20 in front and 305/35R20 in rear