Curbside Classic Capsule: 1964 Chevy C-10 Fleetside – A Mileage King

When I read Paul’s recent post about the 1962 Chevy C-10 with great patina I quickly noted that I could find one myself that could rival that one and then some.

Some background is in order here. The owner of this truck is Tom. Tom is a former Seabee and Santa Cruz firefighter. He has been a volunteer on the USS Hornet since 1995 making him the longest serving volunteer. I, and maybe two others, date to May 1998 right behind Tom. Tom’s skills are beyond comprehension. He is a machinist, welder, fabricator, heavy machinery operator and mechanic, besides knowing all the operating systems of an aircraft carrier such as the Hornet. He lives in Santa Cruz and commutes 96 miles one way to the Hornet for Tuesday and then for Saturday through Sunday spending the night. When not on the Hornet he is doing something around his small house like rebuilding the foundations digging by hand.

He bought the truck in 1970 after he left the Navy. Prior to that his cars were a 1948 Packard, 1954 Windsor and a 1958 Dodge. Since he entered the fire service after leaving the Navy the truck was used locally around Santa Cruz. Trips to the Hornet started in 1995 and miles have accumulated since then to the tune of 600,000 miles. Yes, that is 600,000 miles on this truck.

It has gone through three engines. The original 230 six cylinder he removed at 65,000 miles because it really couldn’t tow anything. He then put in a 327 which was removed several years ago at 380,000 miles. It sits on stand awaiting rebuild. The engine you see here is a 283.

When I opened the hood I noticed the single pot master. Since I saw Tom before I took the pictures I’ll have to wait to talk to him about that. He’ll probably tell me something like they are reliable as long as you take care of them or something similar to that. Tom is big on regular maintenance.

As you can see power is transmitted through a 4 speed with granny gear. There is a CB radio but I don’t think he uses it. On the passenger side you can see his fire extinguisher. If there is one thing he knows and that is what the laws are regarding fire safety and occupancy. When the Hornet makes a mistake he is the one to note it.

The wood bed is fairly rotted through in some places. This is the second wood bed he has installed in the truck. This bed has hauled a ton of ship parts from the MARAD Suisun Reserve Fleet going back to 1999 starting with the USS Oriskany. There were 108 ships there at the time and now there are just five. He most likely hit most as he had an extensive wish list over the years. I went with him as my schedule permitted and walked across the decks, top to bottom, of dozens of ships including the USS Iowa which is now a museum in San Pedro.

I know the top picture is a crap picture given the front end parking in towards the fence but I wasn’t going back onto the ship to start looking for him much less ask him to move it.  The truck is actually in amazing shape considering it’s age and the fact that Santa Cruz is a salt air environment. Of course, there is the standard rust in the lower rear corners of the front fenders. When isn’t there any? There is also some sealer present at the roof seam above the driver but Tom says it is dry inside. He did have another vehicle to use which I saw long ago. Twas a 1981 Buick Century which he complains about the foam insulation stuck in the roof pillars that held water and rusted out the car from inside out. Of course, it is at home in Santa Cruz for what reason I don’t know.

That concludes my story about Tom’s truck. He will not likely see the story as surfing a computer is not his thing. After I talked with Tom at lunch I then went over to Andy (1998) to ask him about his car. A 1995 Ford Escort wagon manual that he drives from San Jose to Alameda. He informed me that the State of California gave him $1000 for it in December. Drat, I missed it by that much and it had 348,000 miles on the original four cylinder. His replacement is a 2018 Ford Festiva for $11,000 out the door. Can it go 348,000 miles?