Beck Racing Engines 1974 Chevy Muscle Truck
Todd Emmons’ 1974 Chevy Muscle truck
By Rob Fortier
Photography: Rick Amado
Article © Classic Trucks can been seen Here
It’s a fact that everything happens for a reason. It’s also a fact that things rarely go as planned. Put the two together, and you pretty much have the majority of classic truck projects ever built! Todd Emmons’ 1974 Chevy C10 is no exception. As with many, if not most, projects, Todd’s Arizonian “square box” started out initially as his daily driver. At the time, he was in the middle of building a 1961 Studebaker Champion pickup. The ’74, an original Arizona truck, had a transplanted 454 and a bad paint job. But thanks to a nosey homeowner’s association (let’s just say they don’t care much for “shade tree” mechanics!), his Studebaker had to be sold and the attention re-focused on the Chevy.
In late 2000, Emmons had sent the C-10 off for a new paint job in nearby Tempe. Six months later, that shop closed down. To Todd’s relief, ex-manager Mike DeFrates had promised to take the truck with him and get it finished. Four shops later, and even a few stints at Mike’s house, the truck was still without paint. Through all of this, Mike and Todd actually became friends and through all the headaches, decided to take on and finish the truck together. After the meeting of the minds, the two agreed upon scrapping the idea of a simple paint job, opting to tackle a full frame-off instead. And once all the dust had settled from the idea hashing session, an “SS454” theme was the new name of the game—something Todd wanted to do in order to show what Chevrolet might have done in 1974.
What that resulted in is a very unique approach to truck building—a “classic sport truck,” if you will. Even better, a “muscletruck!” Todd’s ’74 is anything but restored, but it’s about as far from being a full custom too. Todd and Mike’s theme was executed perfectly, from the Goodmark cowl-induction hood to the subtle yet striking SS side graphics to the black and orange houndstooth upholstery. If GM had produced a muscletruck 30 years ago, it sure as heck would have looked like this!
The duo’s frame-off efforts included sandblasting and powdercoating the stock frame. Suspension-wise, Belltech 3-inch dropped spindles with matching (2-inch lower) springs bring the frontend down, while the rear was treated to flipped leaf springs. The 12-bolt was also updated with an Eaton Posi differential with a U.S. Gear 3.73:1 ring and pinion. Belltech’s Nitro gas shocks are mounted at each corner, as are Stainless Steel’s Force 10 disc brakes (four-piston calipers, 13-inch rotors up front, 11-inch out back). Wheel-wise, what with Todd now employed by Boyd Coddington, he pretty much was limited with roller choice…but that’s not a bad thing. The wheel of choice ended up being Coddington F-09s in 20- and 22-inch diameters with Nitto NT555 35-series Z-rated radials.
And it wouldn’t be a fitting muscletruck without the proper muscle, right? Well, it already had the 454 installed, so Todd was one step ahead in that department. The big-block features a Crane hydraulic camshaft, Keith Black pistons, BRE hardened rods, and iron GM heads topped with an Edelbrock Air Gap intake and a Demon 750cfm carb. Ignition is handled by an MSD billet HEI with a 6AL box and 8.5mm wires, while Hooker Super Comp headers feed into Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers. Dyno-tested at 530hp, the brute V-8 from Beck Racing Engines is backed by an equally stout Turbo 400 from Tony’s Racing Transmissions. With Zoops ball-milled valve covers and outboard pulley/bracket system along with a Boyds air cleaner sandwiching a K&N element, the 454 is all show and go!
On the exterior, when he finally had ample opportunity, Mike DeFrates tackled each and every panel like it was his own. Along with the various sheetmetal rehab, he also shaved the handles and driprails, filled the parking lights and stake pockets in the bed, smoothed the cab seams, and added a Hagan gas filler door. All of that was followed with a vibrant House of Kolor orange paint job, which was then followed with the SS vinyl graphics from Brand Graphics in Phoenix. Along with the two-tone polished/satin Coddingtons, T-Rex billet grille with genuine SS emblem, sport mirror package, and GemTop GT Classic flush-fit tonneau cover, the truck possesses a truly menacing demeanor.
Finally, before making its 2004 SEMA Show debut (a year later than the original anticipated debut), Emmons swapped out an already fresh interior for the aforementioned Camaro R/S-influenced threads. With the help of RodDoors, Todd installed new door panels and bench seat (which is now available in kit form from RodDoors), covered in a combo of black UltraLeather and OE orange/black houndstooth. The factory dash was re-equipped with Stewart Warner gauges (wired by Emmons with a Painless kit—his first attempt at wiring) with a Custom AutoSound stereo replacing the factory AM/FM unit. Rounding out the new interior are a B&M Mega truck shifter, Boyds steering wheel, Hot Rod Air A/C, and Electric Life power windows.
Though concealed beneath the tonneau, it’s interesting to note that Todd used a Show Deck from Bruce Horkey for the bed floor—not just that he used it, but why. Turns out, after having the stock steel bed floor all finished, it soon became victim to an exploding driveshaft while on the Hot Rod Power Tour! Not wanting to spend the time to repair/replace the ribbed steel, Emmons opted for the wood floor instead, which he finished with an ebony stain (heavily clearcoated by DeFrates). To date, it’s one of the truck’s most popular items!
1974 Chevy C10
|Modifications||fully powdercoated, notched rear|
|Rearend / Ratio||12-bolt / U.S. Gear 3.73:1, Eaton Posi|
|Rear suspension||stock (flipped) springs, Cal-Track bars|
|Rear brakes||SSBC Force 10 disc|
|Front suspension||Belltech 3″ dropped spindles, 2″ dropped coils|
|Front brakes||SSBC Force 10 disc|
|Steering box||stock, power|
|Front wheel make, size||Coddington F-09, 20×8 1/2|
|Rear wheel make, size||Coddington F-09, 22×10|
|Front tire make, size||Nitto NT555, 255/35ZR20|
|Rear tire make, size||Nitto NT555, 285/35ZR22|
|Machining / Assembly||Beck Racing Engines|
|Manifold / Induction||Edelbrock Air Gap / Demon 750|
|Headers||Hooker Super Comp|
|Exhaust / Mufflers||Mighty Muffler / Flowmaster|
|Make and model||mid-’70s TH400|
|Modifications||Tony’s Racing Transmissions|
|Modifications||shaved handles, driprails, and marker lights, filled cab seam|
|Bed||stock, stake pockets filled, Hagan gas door, Horkey, Show Deck|
|Bodywork and paint by||owner, Mike DeFrates|
|Paint type / Color||House of Kolor / orange|
|Headlights / Taillights||stock|
|Outside mirrors||sport style|
|Bumpers||stock front, Blazer rear|
|Air conditioning||Hot Rod Air|
|Upholstery by||owner, RodDoors|
|Material / Color||Ultraleather / orange, black|
|Other interior items||Electric Life power windows|
Copyright © 2006 Classic Trucks, a PRIMEDIA publication. All rights reserved.