If you walk around the Street Rod Nationals and other events, you might hear talk regarding “concern for the next generation of hot rodding.” Some complain that the next generation, typically identified as 14-year-old teenagers, are too busy playing video games. The problem with that viewpoint is that 14-year-olds are not the next generation of hot rodding. The great news is that the next generation of hot rodding, currently in their late 20s and 30s, is here today and building some really cool cars and trucks.
Jesse Vaughn and his wife Shawn, owners of Level 7 Motorsports, are perfect examples of new generation “rodders.” They pulled into the NSRA Street Rod Nationals with their toddler Charlie and promptly unloaded a muscular 1978 C10 Square Body from a low-buck steel trailer. The Level 7 pickup is by no means a trailer queen. The Vaughns showed up to shakedown their truck and race in NSRA’s StreetKhana competition while showing off the Level 7 build-style. We like it.
Level 7 Motorsports is a small, family-owned Hot Rod shop that has been operating in one form or another since 2001. In Jesse’s words: “When I was younger and single, the business existed simply to help me find discounts on parts for my personal builds. Friends started to take notice and hired me help with their builds. I had been through the military and served overseas from 2003-2004. When I returned, I worked in and ran some body shops.”
As the years moved on, Jesse’s side jobs became more substantial while generating decent amount of side money. After one particularly frustrating day at his regular job, Jesse went home and started working on a customer car. He instantly thought: “I have enough work here to keep me self-employed for months … ” With that, Jesse quit his day job and the rest is history. Three months after opening a full-time operation in January 2011, Jesse met his wife Shawn who runs Level 7 Motorsports’ office. The Vaughns are proud to have great employees with shared vision and passion.
That brings us to the Level 7 Motorsports Shop Truck project. Jesse found this single-family ownership, original paint, original body 1978 C10 on Craigslist in Atlanta, Ga. Sounding too good to be true, Jesse was initially skeptical of the truck’s condition. After requesting and reviewing additional photos, it became clear that the truck was both an excellent find and a perfect fit for the Level 7 Shop Truck project. With nothing more than a verbal agreement, the seller was nice enough to hang on to the truck until Jesse could pick it up on the weekend.
Level 7 specializes in LS engine conversions and suspension upgrades with an emphasis on functional real-world builds. The Shop Truck project is that and so much more. Jesse was quick to mention that the shop is currently working on two other real-world builds: A 3rd gen Z28 and a 2nd gen AMC Javelin. As these cars are still affordable, more money can be allocated to mods rather than cost of entry. That’s a good example of how the next generation is flexing its muscle by increasing demand and awareness for cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
For the Shop Truck, Level 7 custom-built a DOM 6-point roll bar. The rear down tubes bolt to the back of the cab and extend across the bed. In the cockpit, a very racy looking single Recaro seat can be easily swapped for more comfortable family-cruising alternatives. More fabrication is evident, such as the smoothed firewall and custom-built fuel tank. Updating the square body’s chassis was easy. Level 7 chose RideTech StrongArm tubular control arms, HQ Series single adjustable CoilOvers and Musclebar swaybars. Level 7 build a custom 4-Link with a panhard bar. The rear suspension locates a GM 12 bolt axle filled with Moser axles and an Eaton TrueTrac. The combination works great. The Vaughns enjoyed great ride quality on the 2017 edition of Power Tour. Likewise, the chassis reacted well on the autocross at NSRA.
Under the hood, Level 7 replaced the anemic ‘70s drivetrain with a seriously modified 370ci LQ4. The built-to-the-hilt engine has been topped off with an LSA supercharger and managed with a Holley EFI Dominator PCM. A Tremec T56 Magnum transmission directs the engine’s 625HP rear wheel horsepower towards a set of 4.10 gears. That’s a really stout combination.
To finish off the build, Level 7 installed a set of Wilwood 14” brakes along with an AGR 14:1 quick ratio steering box. The Shop Truck rolls on 18” Forgeline wheels and fat Falken 295/40 tires all-around. The overall parts list is normal for more popular pro-touring platforms such as Camaros, Mustangs and Chevelles. Likewise, there have been a few successful pro-touring second-gen C10s. It is refreshing to see a 3rd gen “Square Body” C10 built to this performance level. Furthermore, the Level 7 Motorsports Shop Truck serves as proof-positive that the “next generation” of hot rodding is doing just fine, thank you. We look forward to running with the Vaughns and their shop truck at the next event.
To learn more about Level 7 Motosports, click HERE
For details on 1973-1987 Front Suspension, click HERE
Level 7 Motorsports “Shop Truck” Specs:
- Texas Speed 370cu in LQ4: 10:1 compression, Texas Speed Connecting Rods, Wiseco Forged Pistons, GM L99 Crank. Makes approx 625whp.
- Texas Speed Custom Grind Camshaft
- Chevrolet Performance CNC Ported LS3 heads
- Superchargers Online LSA supercharger @ 13psi
- Holley EFI Dominator Engine Management
- Holley EFI Analog Gauges
- Hooker Engine mounts and Transmission Crossmember
- Hooker Headers and Exhaust
- Holley EFI Drop in Fuel Pump Assembly
- Earl’s Ultra Pro Hoses
- Earl’s Fuel Fill Cap
- Earl’s Fuel Filters
- Level 7 Stainless Fuel Tank
- Holley Frostbite Aluminum Radiator
- Level 7 Fan Shroud with Dual 12″ Spal Fans
- Tremec T56 Magnum Overdrive Transmission
- RideTech StrongArms
- RideTech Musclebar Swaybars front and rear
- RideTech HQ Series single adjustable CoilOvers
- Level 7 Chromoly 4 link and track bar
- GM 12 bolt rear end with Moser Engineering 31-spline axles, Eaton TrueTrac, and 4.10 gears
- Wilwood 14″ Brakes front and rear. 6 Piston and 4 Piston Nickel Plate Calipers
- C6 Corvette Brake Booster and Master Cylinder
- Wilwood Tandem Proportioning Valve
- Forgeline GA3 Wheels in 18×10.5 and 18×11
- Falken 615K Tires 295/40/18
- AGR 14:1 Fixed Ratio Steering Box
- Level 7 Motorsports Custom DOM Roll Cage