Supercharged Shop Truck: Level 7 Builds A Corner Carving C10

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.

At the NSRA StreetKhana event, the Vaughns unloaded their Shop Truck from a $1,500 open trailer and immediately got in line to make hot laps.

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.”

Time in the military helped to hone Jesse’s survival instincts which, in turn helped him quit his day job and start Level 7 Motorsports. The Shop Truck still wears it’s original paint.

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.

The Shop Truck spotlights Level 7s build style. A clean 70s interior is mixed with modern race parts including Holley EFI Analog gauges and an Alcantera wrapped steering wheel. Street-friendly seating can be swapped in place of the single Recaro for family touring.

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.

RideTech HQ series single adjustable CoilOvers work in concert with StrongArms up front and a Level 7 Motorsports-built 4-Link in the rear.  Level 7 built the gas tank, as well.

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.

The Shop Truck’s original body is hiding a lot of modern technology such as a supercharged and custom-built LQ4 as well as a C6 vette master cylinder and booster. Holley EFIs excellent Dominator PCM provides engine management. The entire truck has been plumbed with Earls while Hooker headers and mounts simplified the swap.

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.

Though we absolutely love the look of “square fenders” with 20″-plus diameter wheels Level 7 nailed the look of this truck by running 18″ Forgelines. Stance is perfect, as well.

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:

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