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The Goolsby Customs-Built 2021/2022 Giveaway Squarebody is Wrapped Up and Ready for the Road!

Okay, we’ve resisted this cliché during the entire build series of this truck, but it really is hip to be square. Or, at the very least, it’s pretty darn cool to drive a slick custom Squarebody Chevy pickup these days.

The Goolsby Customs-built Goodguys 2021/2022 ’86 Chevy Squarebody Grand Prize Giveaway truck was revealed to great fanfare at the 2021 Summit Racing Nationals in Columbus, Ohio in July. It’s the culmination of several years’ worth of planning and building and is ready to hit the event trail for the coming year, picking up potential winners along the way.

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It’s no secret that ’73-’87 Chevy and GMC pickups, Blazers, and Suburbans – affectionately known as Squarebodies – have been hotter than ever in recent years. Their popularity was one of several factors driving the decision for Goodguys to begin welcoming vehicles through 1987 vintage to National events several years ago.

Goodguys quickly decided to get a Squarebody Chevy into the Grand Prize Giveaway vehicle lineup and Jonathan Goolsby was eager to volunteer his shop, Goolsby Customs, to tackle the build. “I’ve always loved those trucks,” Jonathan says. “This a truck I would want. Being in the industry, finding time to build your own vehicle is really hard, so this gave me an opportunity to build ‘my’ truck – even though I’ve got to give it away.”

Artist Eric Brockmeyer at Brockmeyer Designs provided a vision for the project with a great-looking rendering that gave us a compelling design target for the build. It maintained the truck’s basic OEM style but incorporated a host of subtle modifications to make it a true standout Squarebody.

Eric Brockmeyer Designs

The starting point was a relatively clean ’86 Silverado – and a long bed at that. Not to worry – the new Roadster Shop Slammed SPEC chassis would take care of the wheelbase, while new bed panels from LMC Truck would be used to assemble a new short bed. Before any of that happened, though, the Goolsby team first tore the truck down to a bare cab, which was media blasted at Coyote Coatings and got a fresh coat of BASF epoxy primer.

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The Slammed SPEC chassis is designed to provide an aggressive 4.5-to-5-inch ride height with coil-over shocks, while also delivering the proven handling of Roadster Shop’s performance-based front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-bar rear suspension. The 9-inch rearend was assembled using a GearFX 3.89:1-geared center section, while big Baer disc brakes were fitted to each corner behind the 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties Invader wheels wrapped in 265/35/20 and 305/35/22 Michelin Pilot rubber.

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The small-block engines in ’80s-era Chevy trucks were far from powerhouses, so Pace Performance stepped up with a new Chevy Performance LT1 crate engine. With direct-port EFI and a reliable 455-horsepower and 465 lb/ft of torque on tap, this truck should be plenty of fun out on the open road. The engine was outfitted with a TruTrac accessory drive system from Billet Specialties, while a C&R Racing aluminum radiator with dual Spal electric fans was added to keep things cool.

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The Goolsby team used parts from Spectre Performance to help fabricate the custom air intake and employed stainless steel Ultimate Headers to direct fumes to the custom exhaust built using Magnaflow stainless tubing and mufflers. The engine was backed up with a 4L65E overdrive automatic transmission from Gearstar Performance, which sends power through a QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft to the 9-inch rearend.

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“The whole thing was keeping it like a stock-looking truck on the outside, with that ‘wow’ factor under the hood,” says Jonathan Goolsby of Goolsby Customs. Some of that wow factor comes from the 455hp LT1 Chevy Performance crate engine from Pace Performance Chevrolet, and some of it comes from the custom-built inner fenders, modified firewall, and great attention to detail from the Goolsby team.

It took a lot more work than you might expect to make that stock-appearing body look so good. In addition to fixing previous damage and rust, the Goolsby team made some subtle mods like filling the fuel door and the factory top seam, building a custom transmission tunnel, and crafting custom inner fenders. They also narrowed and recontoured the bumpers and shaved the stock door handles so they could use stylish new billet aluminum handles from BBT Fabrications in conjunction with modern electric latches.

We all know it takes a great deal of skill to get body panels aligned and assembled with the precise gaps shown on this truck. Having a variety new panels from LMC Truck helped – especially all of the bed pieces. Still, the Goolsby team did a lot of cutting and welding to create the step in the bed floor to accommodate the frame kickup. “I think the notch worked out perfect,” Jonathan says. “I can put a cooler and chairs in front and it won’t slide to the back.” The team also modified the wheel tubs and built a recess for the fuel filler neck, which links to a frame-mounted under-bed fuel tank from Tanks, Inc.

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The 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties Invader and Michelin Pilot 265/35/20 and 305/35/22 tires offer great looks and performance. They’re backed up by Baer disc brakes and six-piston calipers. The new bed floor was stepped to accommodate the Roadster Shop frame, and Goolsby used Smart Tintable Bed Liner to coat it. Note the recessed fuel filler neck at the rear for filling up the Tanks, Inc. under-bed fuel tank.

True to the Brockmeyer illustration, the truck’s paint job followed OEM two-tone cues and even used ’86 Chevy colors – Light Blue Metallic and Frost white – though they take on a whole new look thanks to the modern BASF basecoat and clearcoat materials. Before the clear was applied, Goolsby masked off a trio of orange stripes to separate the blue and white colors. The beautiful body and paint work are complemented by gorgeous chrome by Advanced Plating on the bumpers and many trim items, not to mention new side moldings and other detail pieces from LMC Truck.

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Inside, the Goolsby team lined the cab with DEI Boom Mat and installed a Vintage Air Sure Fit climate control system to keep things quiet and cool. The Dakota Digital RTX instruments followed the theme of period styling with modern technology, as did the Lokar pedals, Ididit Squarebody Syndicate series tilt steering column, and the smaller OE-style wheel from Sparc Industries. All wiring was done using a Chevy Truck Classic Update kit from American Autowire, while the stereo gear game from Kicker Audio.

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A new Squarebody Syndicate series tilt column from Ididit was painted satin black for a factory look, and then topped with a leather-wrapped Sparc Industries Squarebody steering wheel, a billet wheel that mimics the OEM design in a 14.5-inch size.

Phil Cato and his crew at Cato’s Custom Upholstery handled the balance of the interior work, carving custom foam to fit on the bench seat and wrapping it with finely stitched gray Moore & Giles leather with plaid cloth inserts. The door panels were upholstered to match, with custom-designed kick panels, arm rest pads, and a center console digitally designed, and then CNC machined from foam and wrapped in leather.

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The new door panels from LMC Truck were enhanced with plaid fabric accents, plus armrest tops that were digitally designed, CNC-machined from high-density foam, and wrapped in leather by the team at Cato’s Custom Upholstery.

The truck got a ton of attention during its unveiling at the 2021 Summit Racing Nationals. It’s certain to get much more at it makes appearances at Goodguys events for the next year.

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Goolsby says he’s extremely happy with the way the truck has turned out. “Giving away this truck at this time – it’s perfect given how hot these trucks are,” Goolsby says. “I only wish I had got it done a lot sooner, just so I could use it as my daily driver for a while!”

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Want to win this truck? Sure you do! Visit www.Good-Guys.com and fill out the online submission form for you chance to drive off in this slick square next summer!

Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.