To the average person, Mark Parham’s ’61 Chevy Apache 10 looks like a weathered farm truck long overdue for a paint job. But, to a keen-eyed truck enthusiast, it’s an absolute work of art.
It’s a blend of history, hot rod and an excellent case study in classic truck preservation. Found sitting in a field in Southern Georgia with a homemade lift kit and a nearly perfect blend of patina and rust, the Apache you see here is the result of over two years of painstaking labor.
Drawn to the uniqueness of the trucks from the ’50s and ’60s, Parham wanted the classic look, but with more modern refinements. Handling the lion’s share of the build would be MDS Motorsports out of Fairview, North Carolina. There, shop owner Stephen Moore worked closely with Parham to ensure his dream pickup became a functional reality.
We sat down with Parham to talk about the journey and challenges of preserving such a weathered truck, which you can watch in the video above.
To give you a closer look at the hard parts that make this one-off ride roll, we’re breaking down the details in the feature below.
Under the hood, you’ll find an LQ4 LS series 6.0L engine. The 370 cubic inch engine was bored .30 over, fit with Wiseco 4.03 pistons and a Stage 3 camshaft from B&R. The stock heads were ported and fit with larger valves, B&R dual valve springs and a Trunion kit.
A Speartech harness controls the fuel-injected engine, while MSD wires and coil packs keep things firing smoothly. Tucked neatly in the tidy engine bay are Doug Thorley headers.
Helping to achieve the 550 rwhp is a MP112 supercharger from Magnuson. Parham states that he’s likely going to swap that unit out for one of Magnuson’s TVS2300 models very soon.
Helping to deliver 565 lb-ft of torque is a 4L80E transmission that’s been upgraded with billet internals and a Circle D torque converter.
While the patina finish is what drew Parham to this particular truck, there were some areas that the rust had completely rotted out. The worst areas were along the cab’s rocker panels and the bottom of the doors. Incredibly, MDS Motorsports sourced replacement sheet metal and used only what they needed to fix the damaged areas.
To create a seamless look, the new metal was purposely weathered and painted to blend. Parham estimates the truck to have approximately 85 percent of the original sheet metal.
Modern comforts were a must as the North Carolina Mountains can be bitterly cold in the winter and summers hot and humid.
To merge the luxury that is air conditioning into the build, vents were added inside of cab. The center one, shown here, is comprised of leftover sheet metal from the Apache’s replacement panels.
Another cool feature—the original climate levers control the aftermarket A/C system.
A quick open of the door and the Relicate leather will help take your mind away from the rusted exterior and into a cabin that could battle the nicest luxury cars.
Handcrafted by Sam’s Trim Shop in Canton, North Carolina, what started off with two seats from a 1965 Pontiac convertible transformed into this masterpiece of comfort.
It’s also worth noting that the hand-built power driver seat offers more room than most, as the original interior fuel tank and metal protrusion were removed from inside of the cab. This helps free up some additional legroom for the 6-foot-4 owner.
Finding the right wood for the bed was a no small feat. The maple planks you see here are the result of hours of sanding, dying and buffing. While the interior wheel wells may look factory, they are not. In fact, the mini-tub conversion was an exercise in skill and metal blending.
The tubbing was done to make room for a set of 305/35R20 Nitto 555R tires. The DOT-compliant drag radials were a must to get the 3,850-pound truck to keep traction when the skinny pedal is pushed to the max.
Up front, you’ll find a slightly narrower 275/35R20 Nitto 555 G2 to ensure grip wouldn’t be an issue when powering through the twisty mountain roads. These cutting-edge tires were wrapped around a set of Detroit Steel 20-inch wheels. Since Parham didn’t like the look of new wheels on the patina truck, he rusted the fresh set to create the finish you see here.
In The Clear
To preserve the mix of new and old patina metal, Parham had the body and wheels, along with the sheet metal inside of the cab, clear coated. This clear-coating formula is specifically designed to encapsulate rusted metal, so the truck will retain its classic finish for years to come.
To pair some old tech with new, the stock front torsion bar suspension was left in place and paired with a double-adjustable Viking shock. A custom heavy-rate sway bar was also added to ensure body roll wouldn’t be an issue.
Out back, the stock trailing arms were retained but now hold a Moser 12-bolt rear axle. To get the width correct for the truck, MDS narrowed the axle housing, then paired it with a set of Wilwood rotors and calipers to finish out the complete disc-brake conversion.
Supporting the back of the truck are adjustable coilovers from Viking. These work in conjunction with a custom rear sway bar and track bar to ensure balanced handling.
Most people will never get to see the intricate way the exhaust is routed through the modified frame, but they will enjoy the incredible tone thanks to two Kooks Race Series Bullets and two Kooks oval mufflers.
We could write a small novel on all of the work that went into transforming this classic pickup. The blend of modern touches such as the Dakota Digital gauge cluster and compete LED head- and taillight conversion bring this truck up to date, without taking away from the historic design.
We’ve included some extra photos below to offer even more insight into the build. And, if you think it needs a paint job, you’re missing the point.