A cool truck that turns heads, can be driven any place and at any time, blasts the dragstrip while retaining solid street manners, and can hold its own at any car show is something most performance junkies would love to own. Joe Leager, though, didn’t want to wait around wishing. Instead, he took the initiative to build a beautiful 1966 Chevrolet C10 pickup that checks all the boxes.
Thanks to his father, Dennis Leager, Leager grew up around cars and has owned several Pontiac GTOs, as well as a 2008 Chevrolet Corvette and many other Chevy cars and trucks, over the years. “I have been building engines my whole life with my father and my friends,” explained the young man who loves the adrenaline rush of racing. “I had done some racing at my hometown local track and street racing when I was younger.”
In June of 2018, Leager picked up the pickup with the intention of putting together a cool project car to showcase another enterprising endeavor he was working on – starting his shop, JCL Automotive and Performance in Darlington, Maryland.
“I worked for many other people over the years but, one day, I decided to take a chance at owning my own businesses,” stated Leager, now 26, whose C10 truck has become the mascot for his company. In just a few short years, Leager’s shop has grown into a successful small business focusing on builds, LS engine swaps, cam swaps, and anything from oil changes to assembling performance engines. His C10 pickup, too, has come a long way since its inception, with countless hours invested in the process.
The truck’s former owner, Cody Davis from Oklahoma, had put a ton of work in prior to Leager scooping it up. “Cody got it when it was still in primer and he did the bodywork and paint on it, plus the mild steel 8.50-cert roll cage that ties into the bed frame,” noted Leager, who christened the Jetstream Blue Chevrolet “Sully” in honor of the big, blue character from the Monsters Inc. movie.
Leager loved the truck’s look but wanted to change a few things to suit his specific tastes. Of course, as an experienced engine builder, the drivetrain was one of the first tasks that he tackled.
Under the Chevy’s expansive, custom-built fiberglass cowl hood, Leager installed an iron block-based LQ4 6.0-liter Gen 3 LS small block engine from a 2005 model donor truck. Leager’s longtime and trusted machinist, Bob Mach at Mach Machinery, took point on machining the short block and decking the heads, but Leager…