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Building the Goodguys Giveaway ’86 Squarebody – Part 1

When Goodguys first began welcoming vehicles through 1987 vintage to National events a few years ago, there was already one group of rides from the ’70s and ’80s enjoying substantial popularity: Squarebody GM pickups. The generation of Chevy and GMCs from 1973-87 – affectionately known as Squarebodies due to their boxy design – has always had a strong following, but their popularity began to positively explode five or six years ago. Suddenly, everybody wanted one, and their following remains strong.

Goodguys quickly decided to get a Squarebody Chevy into the Grand Prize Giveaway lineup. We found a suitable truck and tapped Goolsby Customs for the build. The truck was originally scheduled to be completed in 2020 and given away in 2021, but we all know how last year went. Instead, this trick truck will be unveiled at the Goodguys 2021 Summit Racing Nationals Presented by PPG in Columbus, Ohio – right after we send a lucky winner home with the ’67 Nova built by Designer Street Rods – and will be given away at the same event in 2022.

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Here’s our starting truck, looking like it just rolled off the ranch. Yes, it’s a long bed, but not for much longer. It was most of the things you want in a project vehicle – solid, complete, and reasonably clean.

After finding a suitable ’86 Silverado for our build (more on that in a minute), we turned to artist Eric Brockmeyer at Brockmeyer Designs to envision what the finished product could look like. Brockmeyer is great at keeping things simple yet oh-so-cool and came up with a rendering that maintains all the elements people love about these trucks, with just enough subtle modifications to make it a true standout. We know you’re gonna like it!

Eric Brockmeyer Designs

Having the Goolsby Customs team handle the build was an easy decision. Jonathan Goolsby and his team have been turning out high-caliber hot rods, custom, muscle cars, and trucks for years, including our 2017 Grand Prize Giveaway Camaro and the Deuce sedan that won the Classic Instruments Street Rod of the Year honor last year. The shop also helps promote youth in rodding by sponsoring the Goodguys Next Generation Award. It seemed natural for us to have them build a truck that helps usher in newer rides to Goodguys events.


Over the next few months, we’ll be chronicling the build of this C10 prior to its unveiling in Columbus. This is a true ground-up custom truck, and we think you’ll be impressed with the components used throughout the build.

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Our project truck was actually a long bed version wearing original yellow and black paint. It was fairly clean and complete, with a well-worn seat and interior. The Goolsby team tore it all down to a bare cab, which was sent off to Coyote Coatings for media blasting and then coated in BASF primer in the Goolsby paint booth. Plans call for a reproduction short-bed box and other replacement sheet metal from LMC Truck (more on that in an upcoming build segment), so a decent cab was our main concern as a starting point. This one had a few minor hidden rust problems, but all in all it was a decent foundation.

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The Goolsby started by breaking the truck down to its essentials. The cab came off the chassis and was completely stripped in preparation for its trip to Coyote Coatings for media blasting.

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Clean and bare! After media blasting, the cab went into the paint booth for BASF primer. Goolsby did find a couple of rust spots in the cowl, which we’ll show you in an upcoming issue when we get into bodywork.

The goal for a slick short-bed hot rod truck will be achieved using a Roadster Shop Slammed SPEC chassis. Designed to provide an aggressive 4.5-to-5-inch ride height with coil-over shocks, this all-new frame includes a performance-based front suspension with tubular arms, Wilwood Pro spindles, and rack-and-pinion steering, plus a four-bar rear suspension and a 9-inch rearend. Ours will employ coil-over shocks from AFCO. The frame will accept factory body, bumper, and core support mounts, but does require modifications to the inner fenders, transmission tunnel, and bed floor.

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This C10 is getting a fantastic foundation and a whole new attitude with a Roadster Shop Slammed SPEC chassis. Designed to provide an aggressive 4.5-to-5-inch ride height, the frame includes a performance-based front suspension with tubular arms, Wilwood Pro spindles, and rack-and-pinion steering, plus a parallel four-bar rear suspension and a 9-inch rearend. Ours will use coil-over shocks from AFCO.

Completing the chassis will be a full complement of top-quality components, like Baer disc brakes with drilled and slotted rotors, plus 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties “Invader” wheels from their SLC Series wrapped in Michelin Pilot rubber. GearFX supplied the 3.89:1-geared center section for the 9-inch rear, which was filled with Joe Gibbs Driven gear oil. An under-bed fuel tank from Tanks, Inc. was also fitted to the frame.

To achieve stopping power commensurate with the chassis performance, big-inch drilled and slotted brake rotors from Baer were bolted up at each corner, along with hard-clamping six-piston calipers. Baer also provided a billet aluminum Remaster master cylinder, which we ultimately bolted to a new brake booster from Master Power.

The great-looking performance wheel-and-tire package came in the form of 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties wheels wrapped in 265/35/20 and 305/35/22 Michelin Pilot rubber.

Power will come from a Chevy Performance LT1 crate engine supplied by our friends at Pace Performance Chevrolet. This 6.2-liter (376c.i.) E-Rod crate engine cranks out a reliable 455-horsepower and 465 lb/ft of torque. It’s the same engine you find in the seventh-generation Corvette and features an aluminum block and heads and direct-port EFI.

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Corvette power! The LT1 crate engine from Pace Performance will make for spirited driving thanks to 455-horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, plus direct injection and other advantages of modern engineering.

Gearstar Performance is also providing support for this Squarebody build with a 4L65E transmission built to back up the mighty LT1. Gearstar transmissions are much more than standard rebuilds – they’re remanufactured with new and heavy-duty internals and incorporate modifications and reprograming specifically engineered for the engine and project vehicle they’re going in. Gearstar also supplied the torque converter, while the flexplate came from TCI. Power will be sent to the rearend via a carbon fiber driveshaft from QA1.

Stay tuned for more in the coming months as we watch Goolsby Customs make more progress on this standout Squarebody.

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.