1972 Chevrolet C10 pick-up
Having had a hard life, this smart Chevy truck has had everything restored and replaced – but it’s not just for show. This rig will be working for a living, as Steve Havelock found out… Words: Steve Havelock. Photography: James Mann.
Back in the spring of 2017, Anders Hildebrand, the founder and boss of Anglo American Oils, invited me along for an interesting and fact-filled tour of the company’s impressive, purpose-built facility near Poole in Dorset. You can read all about Anders, his racing and car background and all manner of interesting oil and fuel facts in my Classic American People feature in Issue 315, July 2017.
At the time, Anders’ business truck and daily driver was a modified black 1972 Chevrolet C10 stepside pick-up, which also happened to be his first American vehicle. We didn’t pay too much attention to it as our focus was elsewhere. Four years further down the line, the work-weary truck has been given a complete makeover and dressed in a new uniform. It still has to work hard for a living, but just like Eddie Stobart’s HGV drivers, it now looks smart and professional.
“People seem to be spending money on their cars, especially classic cars, so the market is very strong at the moment. We actually feel very upbeat about it all.”
Anders recalls: “I bought it as a completely standard truck, apart from some horrible wheels, from a guy in the West Country in 2010. I was lucky because when it was advertised in a classic car magazine there was a lot of initial interest in it, but then people thought it was too far to travel to look at it. So I was the first one to actually go and see it. It had no history to speak of, it was kind of okay body-wise, and it ran and it stopped. That was about it.
“I then worked on it with my son Axel, then 20, who also works here. I bought a suspension kit from the US with shock absorbers and springs and lowered the ride by about five inches. We replaced the original engine with a 350cu in ZZ4 crate engine which produces about 355bhp and 400lb-ft of torque. The gearbox is a four-speed auto with a lock-up converter. We fitted American Racing wheels, 7 ½ inch at the front, 9 ½ inch at the back and Cooper tyres. I wanted it to drive more like a modern car and to be reliable, as I did about 10,000 miles a year. It was fast enough, but not superfast. Then, three years ago, I noted some corrosion on the bottom corner of one of the doors.”
Well, you all know where this is going, don’t you? Anders started poking around and before he knew it, the cab was off and was into a bareframe restoration. He said: “Everything came apart and has been restored or replaced before being put back together. It was far more involved than I thought it would be.”
During the rebuild process Anders decided to install a roll cage for safety and strength and more supportive bolstered seats so he didn’t slide around so much when giving it the beans. These came from a Nineties Camaro.
He smartened up the interior by painting the dash black and fitted a couple of new gauges including a prominent Auto Meter Pro-Comp Memory rev counter, a new steering wheel, a tilt, collapsible steering column and bespoke drilled foot pedals.
Anders was already planning to fit a racier camshaft, but now took the opportunity to go a whole lot further with lots more go-faster goodies including solid roller lifters, higher compression 10.5:1 pistons, new inlet manifolds and a Holley 750 CFM carb. He also upgraded to a larger aluminium radiator. “It’s like a completely new engine,” says Anders.
“We estimate it is now between 425bhp and 450bhp. It’s fast.” The high-compression aluminium head engine runs on one of Anders’ ‘special brews’ of around 101 octane, which isn’t available from your average filling station. He says: “I don’t trust forecourt fuels.” In order to make sure he got where he was going and back home again, he fabricated an aluminium, fully baffled petrol tank which holds a whopping 100 gallons. This sits behind the cab and goes down between the chassis rails. At 12, maybe 14 miles per gallon that’s a range of 1200 to 1400 miles. Because the petrol tank sits so low, it got in the way of a rear exit exhaust, so a new exhaust system was configured with side exit pipes and switchable cut-outs. So now it goes from fairly loud, to very loud. He also fitted better shock absorbers and overhauled the braking system. Anglo American Oils is the exclusive UK, European and Middle East distributor of Sunoco race fuels and so the brand is extremely important to the company. “Quite a territory,” says Anders. They go to, support and sell Sunoco fuel at scores of race meetings every year and so the truck is widely seen. It therefore seemed logical for it to represent the brand.
Anders says: “We painted it in the same dark blue that the original Roger Penske/Mark Donohue Sunoco Camaro used to race in.
(Trans-Am Championship 1967/68.) I think that Sunoco wrote out a sponsorship cheque for $500. It turned out to be an iconic car and everyone knows those colours. So it was an enormously well spent $500. Roger Penske came to the Goodwood FOS this year and I would have loved to have met him, but I was at another race meeting.” Anders has also built a Sunoco Camaro tribute resto-mod based on a 1967 example, fitted with a remapped 550bhp LS3 motor.
Returning to the truck, Anders says: “We blacked out the front grille, repainted the wheels black and fully detailed the engine bay with black rocker covers and air filter, new hoses and so on. We then fitted a new wooden bed in the back and replaced the rear bumper. It’s now also got a framed cover over the back so we can carry stuff in the bed with some degree of protection. This truck had a hard life, but it looks smart now. It’s not a show truck. It still has to work for a living.”
Anders then adds: “Unfortunately, we do currently have a problem. The four-speed auto gearbox can’t handle the increased power and we are waiting for some new reinforced gearbox parts to come from America. For some reason they are taking ages to arrive, which is rather frustrating, especially as we can get other parts from the US in just a few days. This used to be my ‘Happy Car’ and currently it’s my ‘Not so Happy Car’. But we’ll soon have it fixed. In the meantime, as my daily driver I’m using my black 1970 Mach 1 Ford Mustang with a manual gearbox. It’s a mean machine!”
Update on Anglo American Oils Anders founded Anglo American Oils in 1999 and the company expanded rapidly, moving into a brand-new purpose-built facility in 2015. At the time of our last visit in 2017, it had 17 staff and was selling 1.5 million litres of fuel, 50,000 litres of oil and had a turnover of around £5 million.
It was primarily supplier of Sunoco race fuels, Driven oils and their own ‘R’ brand products. Anders predicted that by 2019, turnover would be close to £10 million. But then Covid stuck a stick in the wheel spokes and motor racing ground to a halt. No racing means no race fuel or racing oil sales. It certainly made a very large dent in the business, but thankfully racing has resumed and is now back in full swing, and staff levels and turnover are ahead of 2017 levels. “This year has been fantastic,” says Anders. “Since 2017 Driven oils has done really well. We now sell 75,000 litres of oil a year and with our special garden machinery fuels and storage fuels, we are up to two million litres of fuel a year.” AAO has added more strings to its bow by becoming a supplier of Sonax car care products and getting involved in the drift scene and British Drift Championship.
Anders’s son, Axel, now 31, competes with a potent 700+bhp Sunoco-liveried Nissan S14. He also took part in this year’s ‘Driftkhana’ at the Goodwood FOS, which was watched on TV by millions.
AAO supplies Zestino and Valino specialist drift tyres. Anders says: “Drifting has moved on. It’s become very competitive. The cars have over 600bhp and they drift at over 100mph, so you need a specialist grippy yet hard-wearing tyre at an affordable price.” With our Government pushing us into E10 fuel and away from fossil fuels, how does Anders see the future of AAO? He says: “There is always going to be a market for specialist fuels and oils. Some of our fuels are 99% less emissions than regular pump fuel. Our new storage fuel is ethanol-free and therefore doesn’t absorb water, making it ideal for classic vehicles that are not used for long periods. We have specialist oils for older cars as new oils have too much detergent in them. We are also involved in the development of the next generation of fuels which are carbon neutral.
Smart new wooden bed. Cool exhaust outlets. Tough blacked-out wheels. Bolstered seats and a roll cage were added. The truck is a great promotional tool. Racing tach. 355bhp 350 ZZ4 crate motor. Anders Hildebrand.