Years of neglect, and several half-hearted start-and-stop restorations, have left the interior of this 1981 Chevy C10 looking more like a Mumbai taxi than a classic custom truck. The floors haven’t seen carpet in 20 years, the one door panel was salvaged from a wrecked truck, and was so sun bleached, you could carve grooves in it with your fingers. The dash pad had a few cracks, the gauges were peeling, and the only part left of the stereo, was three frayed wires that to this day show no signs of their true origins. In other words, it was bad. The only saving grace was the original seat, which had been recovered a few years ago in black velour. Aside from a slight odor (a cat apparently confused it with a litter box…), it was in good shape. A little febreeze will fix the stink.
The solution for the rest of the interior was easy- one click and we had everything we needed from LMC Truck. We sourced almost the entire interior from LMC- door panels, new dash (not a cap, an actual new dash pad!), weather-stripping, gauge appliqué, carpet and all the trim. It arrived via truck freight in what has to be the largest box we have ever seen. Once the packing peanuts had settled, the interior was ready. But we couldn’t just leave it there. The exhaust on the C10 is 1990 at its finest, complete with a set of Meg’s cone tips for that truly obnoxious sound. We needed some tunes. We picked up a simple package deal from Boston Acoustics consisting of a pair of 6.5” components (separate woofer and tweeter), a 10” subwoofer and a 70×4 watt amplifier to power it all. To mount the speakers and sub, we snagged a set of Q-Logic kick panels and a sub box for behind the seat.
This is a full 2-3 day job, depending on the condition of the vehicle. We added a few extra steps to make sure the truck would look and feel like new for many years to come. Few things make the driving experience better than a fresh, clean interior. No matter how good it looks on the outside, if the interior is trashed, it is no fun. The C10 looks and feels like brand new inside, and it has been a long time coming. Special thanks to Steven Marshall of RedDirtRodz.com for helping bring the interior back from zombie land.
01. Inside, the C10 was ragged at best. The heat that comes off the floor on a 20-minute journey is enough to cook a turkey; this rig needs some new clothes. Check out the original kick panel in the corner- it had been hacked up to fit some speakers, of course those have been missing for years too.
02. The new parts came from LMC Truck, Boston Acoustics and Q-Logic. Weather-stripping, all the trim, new carpet, the works. LMC Truck has everything.
03. The carpet has been sitting, rolled up, in a box for the last 2 years; it is going to take some time getting it flat again. First step is to unroll it and set it out in the sun to uncurl.
04. We yanked the seat and seat belts and started on the floor. There was some surface rust, nothing major, but it needs treated before moving in. We hit it with a wire brush, and then vacuumed it all.
05. Next, we used some Rust Encapsulator from Eastwood to stop the oxidation process and seal it from future damage. These floors don’t have any serious scale or holes, so this trick will protect them for many years to come.
06. To cut down on the heat and road noise, we applied some Dynamat Xtreme to the driver and passenger pans.
07. Moving to the dash, the gauge bezel was removed. There are quite a few screws keeping it in place, and they are different sizes, so keep track of them.
08. With the bezel out, the only thing holding the dash pad is 5 screws along the bottom of the pad on the passenger side. Don’t lose them.
09. Then the pad slides out. There are several spring-steel clips on the top of the pad, but they just slide out.
10. Some of the window trim was on, but most of it was chipped and cracked, plus it is the wrong color. The new interior is all black, so we chucked it all for new stuff from LMC.
11. The Boston audio gear was wired up and test fit behind the seat. The amp will mount to the rear wall; all the wires will be neatly hidden under the carpet.
12. We slipped the carpet into the cab and adjusted it as needed. The carpet is pre-formed, but being rolled up for long periods takes a lot of that molding out. One trick is to spray glue on the floor, but we didn’t do that. Once the seat and door sill plates are in, it fits quite nice.
13. Once thing about new carpet is that you have to cut all the holes for the bolts. We used a pick to find each hole and cut away just enough for the bolt to fit.
14. Steven Marshall from Reddirtrodz.com slid the seat back into the cab (after a serious vacuum and de-stink treatment) and bolted it down, along with the seat belts.
15. The windows had been rattling for years, so we installed a complete set of weather-stripping, including the rubber that runs inside the door itself.
16. The door panels fit all models of C10 from 1973-1989. There were several changes throughout those years, including different door handles. The back side is marked for each style. Our truck has manual windows, so we used a hole saw to cut out the panel.
17. The door pulls mount through the panel to the metal door behind it. The door panel is marked for the correct holes to drill.
18. The new door panels look great, so much better than before. The arm rests from LMC are so much nicer than stock!
19. The rear pillar trim was installed using the original hardware. The black trim is the perfect addition to the truck.
20. The dash emblem is not in great shape, the silver has worn off. Using a silver paint pen, we retouched the emblem. Just like new.
21. The dash vent trim bezel installs from the front, and is retained with nuts on the back side. The vents are retained with the same nuts, so don’t forget them.
22. Under the dash are about 6 spring clips that hold the front edge of the dash down. They need to be reused on the new dash. A twist of the screwdriver will pop them right off.
23. The new dash took a little effort to install. Reproductions tend to be a touch off, and this goes double for dash pads. Because they are foamed and them vacuum-formed, there is some room for error. Our pad was little thick, it took some squeezing and tweaking to get it positioned just right.
24. The original bezel was hacked up for a radio install. The job was not well-done. We used some ABS plastic and glued it to the bezel using superglue and accelerator.
25. The gaps were filled with body filler and sanded smooth, and then we installed the cage for the Sony stereo.
26. To get the right texture and gloss, we used the double-can spray technique. One can is gloss, the other is matte. Holding each can about 2 feet from the bezel, a dry coat was sprayed on. As the paint falls to the part, it dries just slightly, leaving a semi-gloss texture that is a perfect match for the original finish. Yes, we lose the chrome trim, but that was well worn anyway.
27. Next, we installed a new stainless trim applique. The adhesive is PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) and needs to be burnished to the plastic bezel. Using the back of the screwdriver, the entire surface is rubbed down with pressure, activating the adhesive. Do this BEFORE removing the protective layer.
28. In hindsight, we should have installed the radio cage after we mounted the bezel. Eventually, we got it twisted and tweaked just enough to get the bezel located in the dash.
29. It just doesn’t get much better than this. The blacked-out centers make the stainless trim pop.
30. The Boston speakers were mounted into the Q-Logic kick panels. These panels bring the stereo sound front and center, for optimum audio quality. In laymen’s terms, it makes it sound real good.
Finished. The fresh interior is so nice; it feels like a brand new truck. We probably need to replace the steering wheel with something a little less, um, huge, but that will have to wait. Next month we tackle the paint and body work.
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).