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Over the years, Detroit Speed and Engineering has earned a reputation for producing pro touring hardware for vintage vehicles that’s simply a cut above the rest. The company is the brainchild of Kyle Tucker, a former GM suspension engineer for the Corvette development team who began designing modernized chassis components for the ’69 Camaro project that he was tinkering with in his spare time.
“Back in the late 90s there really weren’t many performance-oriented suspension products available for first generation Camaros,” explains Matt Butts of Detroit Speed. “So he built some control arms, sway bars, and coil-over kits. And those kind of helped point the way toward the pro touring trend.”
DSE’s Twister Camaro build made its debut on the Hot Rod Power Tour back in 2000, a project that took two and a half years to complete. It served as a rolling test bed during the development of the company’s first-gen Camaro subframe kits and helped the team dial in the suspension geometry required to make vintage muscle cars handle like modern machines. “They kind of led the pack for that kind of thing,” Butts notes. “Over the years Detroit Speed’s overall approach to builds has evolved beyond strictly doing pro touring stuff, but there’s always a strong emphasis on delivering the highest quality parts with the most well-engineered suspension systems available.”
That’s led to more recent projects like Mo’s 1970 Chevelle, which boasts modern features like ABS brakes and traction control as well as a hand-fabricated chassis that was built from scratch, and the "Hoonitruck", the 900 horsepower 1977 Ford F-150 drift machine that Ken Block piloted in the Gymkhana 10 video. So yeah, the builds that roll out of Detroit Speed’s shop come with a degree of pedigree.
And that brings us to this 1969 Chevrolet C10. Outfitted with a Whipple-supercharged LS7 V8 from Mast Motorsports that puts out 915 horsepower and 956 pound-feet of torque, the truck can decimate a set of tires without breaking a sweat. But at the end of the day, it’s the details that really set this C10 apart from the crowd.
“This customer initially reached out to us about a [Chevrolet] Biscayne build,” Butts recalls. “He even sent the car to us – it was an older Pro Street car, and it was actually a really nice build. After looking the car over and discussing what it would take to turn it into what he wanted, he decided he was going to hang on to the Biscayne and do this C10 instead.”
A clean, straight example from California with all original sheetmetal, the team considered leaving its two-tone yellow and white paint scheme as it was when the truck arrived at the shop as roller, but after the decision was made to ditch the trim, the game plan began to shift. “It kind of snowballed from there,” Butts says. “Once he decided he wanted to get rid of that, we were obviously left with holes that needed to be filled, so that commits you to painting the truck.”
Many would have a difficult time getting away from the C10's original two-tone paint scheme. But once the trim started to come off, painting the truck in PPG Spectra Blue with a satin clearcoat became an easier decision.
In the meantime the team set to work building the front and rear suspension assemblies from scratch. “When we got started on this project we’d didn’t have any C10 suspension products in the catalog, so this truck was a little bit of a guinea pig in that way,” he says. “During that development process we took components and designs from our other front suspension assemblies and basically married multiple product lines together to create our first C10 front suspension. In the back we stuck with the solid axle, but we did a slight C-notch of the frame to get the ride height where we wanted it. As far as the components go, we already had several universal QuadraLink kits on offer, so we utilized those kits and built out the rest of the rear suspension around them.”
JRI single-adjustable coilovers give the truck a mean stance while 20-inch Forgeline AL303 wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance rubber put the power to the ground. Six piston calipers and 14-inch drilled and slotted rotors from Baer Brakes on are hand to make sure the truck stops as good as it goes.
The grunt is routed to a GearFX Ford 9” rear end with DSE C6 floater housing ends and hubs by way of a Bowler 4L85-E automatic transmission that’s paired up with a modified Kilduff shifter. A Holley Dominator EFI system oversees the power delivery, which incorporates a water / methanol injection system for a little extra kick.
“It’s extremely rowdy,” Butts says with a laugh. “If you’re going to get into it, you have to be ready to hang on.”
And the aesthetic is just as awe-inspiring. “What really sticks out to me is the PPG Spectra Blue metallic paint,” says Butts. “Since the truck is fully satin clearcoated inside and out, there’s no gloss on it anywhere. It gives it this really distinctive look that seems to get peoples’ attention.”
The leather and houndstooth upholstery work that was done by M&M Hot Interiors is complemented by a hand-fabricated gauge bezel and matching glove box door, while the Holley EFI digital dash provides real-time information about the powertrain’s vitals. A Retrosound audio system with Infinity speakers handles the tunes, and to keep things cool during the summer, a Vintage Air AC system blows through a set of billet vents from Restomod Air.
“I know the one big show this customer is really looking forward to is Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada,” Butts says. “I think that’s been one of his favorites for a long time. But he’s more of a racer than a show guy, so I think that this truck was built with driving in mind more than anything else.”
With the C10 project completed, Detroit Speed can turn their attention to the array of other builds they have in the works, which include a Hellaphant-powered widebody Dodge Daytona and a ’65 Buick Riviera build that’s bound for the SEMA show later this year. “We’re running wide open right now,” Butts says. “And more and more people want cars built every day. It’s definitely keeping us busy.”