When Shane Wiki decided to build one last car, he most certainly didn’t do anything by halves
Words: Marcus Gibson Photos: Adam P Photography
Retirement: it’s something they tell us that we should be planning for, for most of our lives — building a nest egg, blah blah blah. What they don’t tell us car-loving folk is that you also need to be planning what the hell you’re going to be driving, and that had better be something cool; you can leave those grocery getters to the nine-to-fivers.
One person who has done exactly that is tattoo artist Shane Wiki — although that’s not a surprise, as cars have long been a part of his life. Shane recalls growing up with petrol-mad parents – his dad always modifying the family cars as soon as they were purchased with new wheels or bigger engines, and his mum always eager to put them to the test to see just how fast they could go.
It’s this passion that Shane has also carried throughout his own life and onto the countless projects he’s owned over the years, but there is always room for one more, as he explains.
“With not many years left until retirement age creeps up on me, I decided I wanted to buy what may well be my last vehicle.” It was not just any vehicle that was going to do for his ‘final ride’; Shane had a specific list of demands that really pointed him in one direction, and one direction only. “It had to be tough, be able to be daily driven, to cart my tools, my motorcycles, my dogs, to tow my trailer any time anywhere, and be relatively maintenance free for the rest of my days until I can hand it down as a family heirloom.”
With this in mind, Shane’s choices were narrowed to two long-bed C10 square bodies offered for sale at the time — one an old workhorse and the other this particular Silverado, which already wore the Torque Thrust IIs it does today.
Those wheels proved to be the deciding factor — for youngest son, Reina, anyway, who made the call: “Get the black one, Dad; it looks better!”
With the executive decision made, a deal was done some three years ago to purchase the Silverado, which, at the time, was running an injected 350. Following in the family tradition, it wasn’t long before the itch to modify it to his liking reared its head and Shane was off to see the team at Bad Penny to talk about modifications.
Things started off slowly: a shortened diff to allow for wider rubber, then the old 350 dressed up, before it was decided to go all in — and for some surprising reasons.
The first thing you’ll notice is the truck is sitting on the ground. This is thanks to Bad Penny airbagging the now powder coated chassis with a custom C-notch, four-link rear, tubular K-member to stiffen everything, and drop spindles to correct the geometry. While most of us would admit this type of conversion is all for the love of low, for Shane, who has most certainly lived a full life — and bares the metal prosthetics to prove it — having the truck squat on demand would not only make it easier to get in and out of, it would also make it easier to get his bikes on and off the back. Totally practical, right?
Being as the Silverado still needed to haul — mainly road bikes — the tray bed was raised about half the bed depth to clear the C-notch and keep the floor flat. To the untrained eye, the Speedliner coated bed probably looks factory, until the tailgate gets popped to reveal the big step-up and relocated fuel filler to fill the relocated fuel tank. Some other trick stuff has also made its way into the tray, including 12V jump points to connect to the battery that now lies within.
Remember that 350 we spoke of earlier? That was next on the chopping block. In its place would be dropped a GM Performance LS3 crate engine in factory unopened spec.
“It just made good sense. The extra grunt, the economy, and it will last a lifetime and more,” Shane remarks.
Backing the LS is a Hughes Performance 4L80E equipped with a US Shift controller. The factory 12-bolt rear also received a posi traction centre to complete the driveline upgrades. Before it could be installed, however, the engine bay also got the full works, the crown jewel of this being the pair of new inner tubs. Like the modified tray out back, they may look stock but they are far from it. In fact, hours upon hours were spent on the English wheel turning sheet metal into a pair of sculpted tubs. These, coupled with a shaved firewall and deloomed wiring harness, result in a clean bay — well, as clean as you can get when still retaining all the stuff required to make the truck a daily driver and not trailer queen.
Once the engine bay’s metal was sorted it was over to Greenville Auto Painters, who shot it in PPG Delfleet black. The Greenville team also had the unenviable task of getting the long tray sides arrow straight — something even Chev itself didn’t do the greatest job of on these old workhorses.
The countless hours spent blocking and smoothing do not go unnoticed, as the end result is something you don’t see on a truck all that often — especially one that’s built to daily drive. We hope those supermarket trolleys aren’t seen anywhere near it.
With a modern power plant up front and the factory GM computer under the dash, getting it all to talk to some ’70s gauges was going to be more hassle than it was worth, so an Auto Meter Invision LCD was swapped in. These are offered as a direct replacement for the square-body C10 and even come with a replacement surround and somewhat mimic the stock gauges.
The mod cons didn’t stop there; a TCI Sports seat with centre console was fitted, as were electric windows and even a reversing camera. You can also bet the heater and aircon are both valued members of the comfort kit.
While Shane might jokingly say that two and a half years later it basically looks as if nothing has been changed, nothing could be further from the truth — something he credits to the team at Bad Penny, who took what he describes as a “whim of a dream” and turned it into something that is an extremely well thought out and functional daily-driven workhorse. The proof is that Shane is actually using it that way —whereas many projects like this get relegated to the shed for weekend work as they have become too good to use. You’ll often see Shane hauling a bike or his dogs through the streets of Hamilton, and loving every minute of it.
For Shane, the C10 has now become much more than just a retirement transport plan; it’s an heirloom, something he hopes to pass on to future generations, and in doing so also pass on the passion his parents gave to him for modifying cars and making them your own. At the end of the day, life’s too short to waste driving boring cars.
This article originally appeared in NZV8 issue No. 208