FROM PIECES TO PERFECTION
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NINE TIME UFC CHAMPION MATT HUGHES’ DMAX POWERED C10

When retired nine-time UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes wanted a custom old school truck with a diesel power plant, he turned to David Timm and his friends at 2 Brothers Custom Trucks (The shop has since changed its name to Timm Built Customs) in Springfield, Illinois, for the job. Hughes, an Illinois native, and the team at 2BCT had a simple but tricky goal in mind for the project. The truck was to look like a restored Chevy truck to the naked eye, but closer inspection would reveal a modern chassis and Duramax/Allison drivetrain that would propel the classic truck. Timm and his crew met the goal with flying colors, finishing the truck in about ten weeks before presenting the finished truck to the UFC champion.

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Mounted as a multifunctional tool/storage box, the black diamond plate UWS box contains both the repositioned batteries and part of the fuel filler hose leading under the bed to the modern fuel tank to maintain the C10’s original b-pillar fuel filler cap

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The lined bed of the truck was capped off with the Chevy bowtie burnt into the wood panels between the tubbed wheel wells.

GUTS AND GLORY

Starting with a wrecked 2006 crew-cab short-bed 4WD Chevy 2500HD and a 1966 2WD Chevy C10, melding the two together meant a lot of cutting and fabricating for the chassis work. Gutting and tearing down the ‘06 until it was nothing but a bare frame and the LBZ Duramax drivetrain was the first of many time-consuming steps. The next, and equally challenging step, was dismantling the ’66, removing the cab and bed from the frame to make room for the modern chassis. Several test fits were mocked up before cutting would begin to shorten and reinforce the longer 2500 frame to suit the C10 cab and bed.

THE TRUCK WAS TO LOOK LIKE A RESTORED CHEVY TRUCK TO THE NAKED EYE, BUT CLOSER INSPECTION WOULD REVEAL A MODERN CHASSIS AND DURAMAX/ALLISON DRIVETRAIN

Before the frame could be shortened though, the crew needed to find and determine the cab’s final position. After slicing and shaving the inner fenders and eventually fabricating new custom front inner fender wells, plus extra cutting to lower the cab further onto the frame to hide the frame under the classic body, it was positioned. With the cab in place over the engine, mounted on the newly fabricated body mounts, the crew had to cut out and fabricate a new core support to make room for the large radiator, intercooler, and A/C condenser. To house the larger Allison transmission, a new removable transmission tunnel cover was fabricated. Once the engine and all the vitals were fitted and mounted into the tight engine bay, sheet metal was crafted to cover the slight gaps toward the front of the bay, cleaning up the conversion neatly. With the cab in position, they determined that a 27 3/4-inch chop would be required to properly locate the rear axle under the C10 bed. Once the Z notch was cut, the frame was welded back together and reinforced with 3/16-inch plate steel on the inside. Next, the bed would have to be modified. New mounts were fabricated, which raised the bed floor roughly 5-inches to match the lowered cab. The team also tubbed the wheel wells to allow the huge Toyo tires they planned to run to fit beneath the bed without rubbing. Like many classic trucks, Timm and his team installed a wood floor kit in the bed, but treated it to a custom touch by burning a Chevy Bowtie into the finish with a torch before staining and finishing the wood. A black diamond plate UWS toolbox was installed in the forward portion of the bed, not just for the traditional utility and secure storage, but also to house a pair of Optima Yellow Top batteries since there was not room for them under the hood. The box also contained another unique modification: Hughes and Timm wanted to retain use of the factory fuel filler position in the drivers side b-pillar and use it with the modern frame mounted fuel tank rather than the ’66 gas tank behind the seat. To make it work, the crew modified a fuel filler hose to run behind the seat, through the toolbox, and into the 2500’s fuel tank. Disliking the look of the factory rear bumper, it was decided to take a new model Dodge bumper, split it to widen it an inch, and modify some metal work on the bed to install it on the truck for a smooth look in the rear, flushed to the bed sides. The fabrication became much more tedious as work began to integrate the ‘06 steering column, pedals, seats and all the various interior components required to make a comfortable and modern—classic truck. Fitting custom metal work to house the set of six Auto Meter gauges and the other 2500 mechanisms such as the 4WD activation switches in the C10 dash took time and careful attention to detail. The crew used PVC pipe to make a pod coated in fiberglass resin and painted to match the rest of the dash to fit the three remaining Auto Meter gauges molded into the top of the dash above the gauge cluster. Balancing the old and new is a classic looking Billet Specialties Banjo style steering wheel with a wood grain perimeter mounted on the modern column. Inspired by the ‘66 exterior chrome trim running down the side of the truck comes a vinyl covered piece of MDF with a brushed aluminum inlay to add detail to the lower section of the door panel. Knowing that every custom rig needs to be able to blast your favorite tunes, custom kick panels pods were built to house a 5 1/4-inch MTX speaker on each side. To supply the bass and power, a sleek enclosure was built behind the seat to become home to a pair 10-inch subs and a Boston Acoustics four-channel amp all linked to the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X591 head unit.

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The front seats from the donor Chevy were reupholstered in black leather and charcoal suede with a kit from Roadwire to make the classic truck a comfy place to ride.

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The pattern of mixing old school and new continues into the interior with the mix of digital and analog Auto Meter gauges custom fitted into the dash as well as a classic looking Billet Specialties wheel mounted on the modern steering column.

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With diamond plate fitted to the color matched bumper, the modified Dodge bumper blends seamlessly into the classic Chevy bed.

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Mirroring a section of the chrome trim down the truck’s side is a custom made piece to embellish the bare lower side of the interior door panel. Notice the functional original fuel filler in the stock location on the b-pillar. See the molded kick panel pod that houses MTX speakers?

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With a proven suspension combo ready for a pounding, this beefy truck required some tough wheels and tires, a requirement satisfied by the 18-inch RBP wheels and 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires.

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Giving the sound system enough power and adding some thump is a Boston Acoustics four channel amp and a pair of 10-inch subwoofers installed in a custom enclosure behind the seats.

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Losing over 27-inches of length from the frame, as well as a conversion from IFS to a solid axle, the ’06 chassis underwent major surgery to align with the ’66 body. Dual Pro-Comp coil over piggy-back reservoir shocks and Off-Road Direct control arms support the solid axle front end.

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The rear axle uses Pro-Comp MX-6 remote reservoir shocks paired with Atlas Springs to tackle any challenge as the truck exhales through an RBP stainless steel exhaust system

Body work

To begin preparing the once pale green C10 for body work and paint, the cab and bed were sent for soda blasting at Bill Mathews Auto Body in Springfield, Illinois. While the body was away being worked to perfection for primer and paint, the chassis received its undercoating and suspension. To shore up the front, the IFS suspension was removed from the 2500 chassis to make room for a Dana 60 axle with an Off-Road Direct straight axle swap kit. Dual Pro-Comp coil over piggy-back reservoir shocks and Off-Road Direct control arms stabilize and lend travel to the front while two Pro-Comp MX-6 remote reservoir shocks work with a set of Atlas Spring leaf springs in the back. With hardy 18-inch RBP wheels and grippy Toyo M/T Open Country 35X12.50R18LT tires, this rig is up for any terrain, any time. Adding to the rugged appeal and aiding access to the lifted truck are a set of Carr side steps. Once back in the shop from Bill Mathews and Attitude Airbrush with its brilliant Jaguar gray and black two-tone paintjob, the crew had a short time before they were set to reveal the truck to Hughes. Installing the Roadwire black leather seat covers with gray suede inserts went smoothly as the reassembly began bringing to life the vision of the custom C10.

Power play

With the beautiful truck completed and presented to Hughes, the time came to turn some attention to the Duramax engine. The 6.6L LBZ Duramax diesel had plenty of power and torque for the lighter C10, but there’s always room for improvement, and the crew at Scheid Diesel knew how to get it there. Courtesy of Bosch Motorsports, custom 150-hp injectors were fitted into the engine to get the fuel flowing. Improving airflow in and out of the engine, they installed an ATS intake and a 4-inch diameter stainless steel RBP exhaust system with an ATS Aurora 5000 turbocharger installed to build the boost. Fleece Performance Engineering set Hughes up with an EFILive custom tune, bringing the truck up to a stout but still manageable 550 horsepower and 1,200 pound feet of torque. All that power is handed off to an ATS built Allison transmission with their 5Star multi-disk torque converter and an ATS Co-Pilot transmission management computer to control shift points and transmission performance.

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Installing the LBZ Duramax engine, the stock radiator, intercooler and A/C condenser into the older body took a lot of work, but the final result is a clean install looking like it rolled off the assembly line in 1966 with a Duramax under the hood.

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ATS’ Aurora 5000 turbo charger combines with the custom EFILive tuning from Fleece Performance and the free flowing RBP exhaust to deliver well over 500 horsepower.

Perfection

With a specific goal in mind, former UFC champion Matt Hughes knew all the right people to bring his dream to reality. With David Timm and his crew building the truck then handing it off to the diesel experts at Scheid Diesel and Fleece Performance Engineering, the C10 went from pieces to perfection. Styled with the looks of a custom classic truck and the power, strength, and reliability of a modern 3/4-ton diesel, this ‘66 Chevy certainly stands out as unique among the pack.

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When Hughes’ son Joey turned sixteen in 2015, Hughes passed down the ‘66 Chevy to him. Using the well-crafted machine as a daily driver, Joey cruises with the safety and reliability of a stout modern diesel and the stunning looks of a classic show truck.