If this 1967 C10 Chevrolet could talk, there might be more stories than owner Harley Barkowski would know what to do with. Discovered in Boise Idaho in 2016 by Harley’s mate Rob, the Chevy was spotted – rusting away in a paddock, after its original owners had discarded it some 18 years earlier.
With the newly purchased truck in tow, Rob returned to Australia and commissioned Harley to its repair. With strict instructions to make it ‘low with big brakes and horsepower – but don’t touch the paint’, new life was breathed into this hardworking classic.
“As I was building, I sort of developed a relationship with it,” says Harley, and in 2019 he jumped at the chance to buy the Chevy. Finally, he was able to put his ‘own spin’ on the restoration and despite replacing the 20-inch steel wheels with a more traditional 15 inch Torq Thrust set, adding chrome bumpers and upgrading the interior, Harley faithfully left the paint in its near original purchase condition. “It’s liberating” he explains, and unlike the other classics he owns, does not require the constant upkeep to maintain a pristine exterior.
The Chevrolet motor company was the brainchild of ex GM boss William Durant and Swiss automotive engineer and namesake, Louis Chevrolet. After a slow start with their first and overpriced Series C, Chevrolet finally gained momentum in the competitive car market in 1915, with the launch of its more affordable Series 490.
Within two years the company was booming – so successful in fact, owner William Durant was able to regain his control of then competitor General Motors for a merger. It was Chevrolet who finally bought out GM – the company Durant had ironically been ousted from less than a decade earlier. In 1918 Chevrolet, now a division of General Motors, rolled its first truck off the assembly line – a one-tonne, 4 cylinder two-wheel drive Model T with a 36 horsepower engine and a payload of a little under a tonne.
Fast forward to 1960 and the decade of Harley’s Chevy. This period saw the introduction of the popular C/K line of trucks – ‘C’ denoting a two-wheel drive and ‘K’ a four-wheel drive. Affectionately nicknamed ‘glamour pickups’ they brought with them a number of firsts – most notably a lower cab, independent front suspension and a more modern shape. Chevrolet was giving the American public an ‘almost car-like ride in a truck’, and it was fair to say they were utterly besotted.
Despite becoming one of the top-selling vehicles in the US, it took GM another three decades to produce a left-hand drive Chevrolet truck. Launching under the HSV badge, the Silverado 2500 made its debut in Australia in 2018, followed by the 1500 pick-up earlier this year. Positioned against its big brash American cousin RAM, the Silverado retails on either side of $100k – depending on the model.
For the Australian market, these trucks are big – seriously big – measuring over 6 metres in length, 2 metres in height and just under 2 and a half metres in width. Although they mightn’t be the best vehicle for a crowded shopping centre car park, they’re fitted with enough kit to handle most offroad challenges and can literally tow a small house.
For Harley, there’s no chance he’ll be trading in any of his 5 – yes 5 – vintage Chevys for one of these new Silverados. Still in the ‘phase two’ of the restoration on his C10, he’s enjoying the challenge of what has ultimately become his new career. So, outside of his obvious love of Chevrolets, what is Harley’s dream car? A 1968 Dodge Charger … or a ‘64 Corvette … or perhaps ‘67 Plymouth Barracuda – there are just so many to choose from he says, but these are for another day.