In one of the most densely populated countries in the world, space is the greatest commodity. Modern Japan has been shaped in every way around making the most of every inch, from towering buildings to automated parking lots. So with space in such high demand, Japan gave birth to the Kei car. Tiny cars with engines less than 660cc in capacity. They’re everywhere and everyone driving them enjoys cheaper taxes as a reward. If you want to make a statement with the car you drive, then there’s endless choices of sports cars, big saloons, European cars and even exotics. With so many cars and so many people, standing out in the crowd and expressing yourself can be a difficult task.
Meet Hiroyuki’s 1977 GMC C10 Pickup, it’s big in Japan… No really it’s huge!!
Hiroyuki has owned this Chevy for a little over two years and along the way he has tinkered, adjusted and fiddled with just about everything on it. It is no immaculate show car, everywhere you look there’s some sort of blemish, scuff or rust only millimeters away from a perfectly clean nut, bolt or panel. This truck embodies a unique balance of roughness and perfection.
Along the way, Hiroyuki has managed to dip into all sorts of inspirations and influences that have helped to shape this truck. From hot rods, to slammed VIP rides and even some quirky pop culture references, they all make an appearances here and there.
The most surprising thing about this C10 truck is that it’s 100% static, no airbags anywhere. Now just let that sink in for a moment…
Sitting literally some 20-30mm off the ground, it takes a certain type of person to be able to drive such a car and still have it bring a smile to your face. Throw in some narrow Japanese streets and “Brave” simply doesn’t cut it to describe Hiroyuki driving around town. He says “I have to avoid gaps, steps and bumps while driving. Other than that it takes some heart and guts to drive this on the streets”.
Wheel choice for a car of this size and vintage proved to be a difficult task to say the least. Hiroyuki settled on a set of Bart Wheels from the states to finish off the look on his all Americana pick up.
Sizing is an impressive 15x12J” all round… Yep they’re nearly as wide as they’re tall!! Tyre choice was also big part of the picture when fitting wheels this wide. You’ll find 225/60R15’s on all four corners.
The rear wheels just start to tuck under the guards, doing so required the guards to be cut and extended 2.5 inches to accommodate the new shoes.
How exactly do you get a car like this to sit so low without the use of airbags you ask? ** Warning, it’s not for the faint hearted… **
With a utility tray on this type of body there really is not an abundance of room left over for pesky annoyances like a diff or shock absorbers…
In the pursuit of low, Hiroyuki had to cut away the tray and fabricate some new mounts for the shocks along with a cutout to allow the diff to poke up.
Despite the extremeness of the modification, it’s actually very functional.
All this drastic chopping has made for a stunning finished product.
Aside from the jaw dropping ride height the most striking feature of Hiro’s truck is the flat blue paintwork…
Contrasted beautifully by the weathered chrome bumper and grille. Altogether it makes for a rather menacing look.
Inside there’s just as much character as your typical favorite novelty restaurant.
A purple glittery steering wheel, complete with a Budweiser gear knob made from an old beer tap helps him to wrestle the giant truck.
Running the length of the dash you’ll find a rich wooden table/drink holder typically found in a VIP styled saloon. You won’t find a diamond encrusted “luxury potato holder” here… Instead it’s covered in M&M figurines and a pair of cool surfer coconut characters.
On the outside, the original lines of the body have been left untouched. There’s no crazy panel work or shaving here, just the right amount of ‘seasoning’ to bring the best out of this dish.
There’s so much to love about a big plucky truck from a time all but forgotten. The big bench seat filling the cabin and tiny manual mirrors with zero visibility that serve only the purpose of making the driver look “cool” while adjusting them.
Then you turn the key…
Powering this giant rig is a 350 cubic inch small-block V8… This 5.7L engine not only propels the hulking third gen’ C10 along, it also provides the soothing rumble only a classic V8 can produce.
Helping the engine to do the best it can, are a handful of goodies like an Edelbrock carburetor, Moroso air filter and an MSD ignition system.
All in all, it makes for a super simple, yet ultra cool American cruiser that is a far cry from the typical cars that are found on Japanese roads.
Helping Hiroyuki turn spanners into the night are a group of friends who go by the name of Team Freee’s. They all have different tastes, but share the same love for cars. Just the handful of cars we saw on the day were of such a high standard. Among them we saw a neck snapping Honda Accord with some of the most aggressive fitting wheels we’ve ever seen, and one tough as nails Toyota Verossa drift car that was ripping it up on track while we shot Hiroyuki’s truck.
When Hiroyuki’s not scraping along the roads in his truck, he is usually slaying some tyres in his own S13 drift car with friends.
For the future, Hiroyuki’s has decided to convert to the dark side and create an airbag system and make things a little more practical to get around.
Even on the perfectly smooth roads you see in these photos, the truck was hitting invisible bumps and pot holes everywhere we went. And all the while, Hiroyuki was all smiles.
Of the two short weeks I spent in Japan, I was constantly surrounded by cars. From street meets, track days, Super GT, grass roots & pro drifting, but this single car will stay with me the longest.
You couldn’t find a more impractical car for Japan and then to do what Hiroyuki has done to it, this truck captures Hiro’s spirit and attitude perfectly to the “T”.
I would like to thank Hiroyuki for not only sharing his amazing Chevy with us and his time but also his patience as the language barrier made it very difficult to arrange the shoot.
We would love to catch up with Team Freee’s again on our next Japan adventure. Until then…
Thanks for reading,