If you attend truck shows on a regular basis, you know that Sixties GM trucks are one of the staples of the hobby. So, it really takes something special to catch your eye, even if you have an eye for great GMC 1/2-tons, no matter what the vintage. Carlos and Maria Sacchetto of Whittier, California, know this truism, and at first glance, their '65 GMC pickup might be overlooked in a field of newer and more modified trucks.
Carlos has a special affinity for mid-Sixties GM pickups. Born in Argentina in 1955, he remembers that before immigrating to the United States in 1966, this style was the most popular on the roads of his homeland. Over the years, his automotive passions have been fueled in a variety of ways. His grandfather and father were bodymen in Argentina, and they passed down their love of metal-bending to Carlos, whose first job in the industry was in Pasadena. He worked at various other shops in Southern California, before moving on to a position in the insurance industry. But, his love for all things automotive drew him back to his roots, first as a partner in a shop in nearby Downey. Then, in 1992 with his wife Maria, he purchased Eckles Auto Body and is now in the process of moving to larger quarters in Whittier.
Whittier is one of the traditional epicenters of automotive culture in Southern California, earthquakes notwithstanding-parts of the downtown area were leveled in a 4.7 Richter scale Whittier Narrows earthquake back in 1987. Carlos has built up a reputation among the region's enthusiasts, who appreciate his old-world and old-school methods of turning out show-caliber efforts. But, when it came time to build a calling card for his business, he went back to his roots and found the '65 GMC 1/2-ton you're viewing on these pages.
Carlos explained the truck's evolution this way. "I wanted to be different, break out from the more common Chevy and Ford categories. The big problem is that some of the GMC-specific trim pieces are unique and a challenge to find."
When asked how long the project took, Carlos just smiled. "It took 11 years to finish. I purchased the GMC shortly after buying Eckles Auto Body in 1992, and luckily, business was good so the truck kept getting pushed to the back of the shop. When I decided to get serious about completing it, my goal was to finish prior to moving to our new, larger facility."
It's always interesting to ask someone, who built his ride from the ground up, what was the most difficult aspect of the project. Carlos had no hesitation in answering this question. "The bed of the truck, no question about it. One of the bed panels was damaged beyond repair, and we had to replace it. The panel was difficult to locate because the truck is a shortbed. Also, designing the interior was difficult. I had so many different ideas. I thought about designing something custom, but then I decided to do it semi-stock."
We didn't have to ask what was the most noteworthy attribute of the truck-the sparkling red finish, along with the contrast provided by the wood on the bed floor and the abundance of chrome up front. Certainly greater than the sum of the parts, the overall look and stance, in this case, are provided by the 20x9.5-inch Panther wheels combined with the Falken 255/35ZR20 tires. The result is a very contemporary look to a vintage truck. The drivetrain is pretty simple, an SBC 350, mildly worked over with an automatic transmission and a sturdy 12-bolt 3:43 rearend with Positraction. The binders are a custom disc brake setup.
All fabrication was done in-house at Eckles Auto Body. Carlos would be remiss if he didn't thank all his dedicated employees who helped to bring Carlos' vision to fruition. This includes Juan Alba who did the bodywork. "Juan is very meticulous and devoted to each project," says Carlos. "He tore the front end of the '65 apart twice because he didn't like the fit." The mechanical work was handled by the team of Ariel Flores and Carlos Contreras. Their biggest contribution was making the four-wheel disc brake setup a reality. "You don't see that everyday on a Sixties GM truck. This really adds to the driveability; the truck stops on a dime!"
"And it goes without saying that Filiberto Vasquez and his crew did an outstanding job with the paintjob. I can't tell you how many hours and hours of blocking and preparation went into the finished project. They worked as if it was their own, and the final results speak for their efforts," says Carlos. "And the Custom Autosound in-dash stereo system, installed by Dave Guarino at Advanced Car Stereo, is a great upgrade, as is the air-conditioning system on hot days, along with the power seats out of a Tahoe. All work to make the truck seem like a new truck...only better."
"The biggest joy I get is the statement the truck makes on the road. When I take it out for a drive, I always get the thumbs-up from other drivers," says Carlos. "You really can't put a price on that, no matter how many trophies-and there have been many-that the truck takes home."- Carlos Sacchetto
Carlos Sacchetto / Temple City, California
'65 GMC shortbed pickup
Chevy 350 / Turbo 350
20x9.5-inch Panthers / Falken 255/35ZR20s
FRONT: Stock control arms with '72 spindles and custom disc brakes
REAR: 12-bolt 3:43 Positraction with custom disc brakes
Eckles Auto Body / Ariel Flores and Carlos Contreras
Gas tank relocated to the rear / single handle rear tailgate
Juan Alba at Eckles Auto Body
Filiberto Vasquez and crew at Eckles Auto Body
'02 leather Tahoe seats with center console and custom GMC embroidery
Jesse's Auto Upholstery / Chava
Advanced Car Stereo