After almost four decades of wrenching on government vehicles for the NY/NJ Port Authority, Jack’s skills were honed and his hot-rod heart was pumping high octane; retirement was a new beginning rather than an end, as he would now devote himself to his true passion: cars.
A hot-rodder since youth, Jack was no stranger to the high performance offerings from GM’s bow-tie division, owning and modifying multiple big-block Chevelles and several generations of Corvettes over the years.
In 2007 after only a short time off the job, Jack and his (car-gal) wife Laura purchased a ’99 Corvette. The C5 was meant to be Laura’s everyday ride, but like most car-fanatic husbands, Jack soon requisitioned it for his own use.
At his wife’s behest, and after two years of keeping it for himself, it was time to return the C5 to his wife and get his own toy. At first he pondered the usual suspects, such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Monte Carlo, but they lacked the practicality he required.
While on vacation in Florida back in 2008, Jack had the pulse pounding pleasure of driving an actual NASCAR stock car at Daytona Speedway. Being a die-hard race fan, the experience left a lasting impression on him and would eventually shape his plans for the next project.
He wanted a daily driver, a “conventional hot-rod,” that he could use for work and play. So after some internet surfing, he found the perfect platform to meet his needs, a ’98 S10 pick-up with over 200k miles on the clock. The little black truck came with a fresh coat of paint, a clean interior, and it’s soon-to-be-history 4-banger mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
Since that fateful day at Daytona, Jack knew he wanted to emulate the look and feel of NASCAR into a street-rod of his own. That being said, he now began piecing together the components to make his vision a reality.
As luck would have it, Jack happened upon an LS1 motor being rebuilt at S-K Speed in Lindenhurst, NY. The venerable GM corporate mill would provide the new heartbeat for his Chevy tribute truck.
Originally powering a friend’s ’98 Corvette with 160k miles, the all-aluminum pushrod engine was completely disassembled, and the short-block was being reworked. Jack’s buddy decided to sell the motor and move on to another setup, allowing Jack to take advantage of the work in progress.
Kevin and Jeff at S-K Speed were hard at work on the rotating assembly, honing the cylinder walls .010 over to accommodate the new Manley pistons and rings. They installed new Clevite main bearings and balanced the stock crankshaft. The mild warming-over retains the factory 10.1:1 compression with a tad more punch.
After taking possession of the fresh short-block, Jack commenced on the rest of the work himself, porting and polishing the factory cylinder heads, checking the valves, and installing new seals, springs, and retaining clips. Since the top end would remain stock, Jack cleaned everything, reassembled the motor, and prepared the truck for the conversion.
Jack went about the LS1 transplant in an organized and analytical way, to ensure a seamless and factory-like outcome. “I set out to get this done, like working a full-time job everyday for two months,” he recalls. This mantra would include installing and removing the motor several times to properly modify the chassis.
Replacing the tired 5-speed, Jack sourced a 4L60E gearbox from 2000 Camaro, with matching converter from Midwest Transmission Distributors in Arizona. Adding a B&M cooler and custom balanced steel driveshaft from Nassau Driveshaft.
Jack performed all the cutting and welding required for fitment, including notching the chassis for the A/C compressor, removal of 1-inch of crossmember for oil pan clearance, and further modification to allow for a dual exhaust system. With the entire front clip still removed, he prepped and painted the engine bay before for the final install.
While the engine was still out, Jack put his hot-rod know how to work, modifying the oil pump by installing a shim in the check-valve spring, increasing pressure by 20-lbs. for better lubrication.
The stock ECM was custom tuned by Current Performance Wiring in Florida, who also supplied the wiring harness with plug-in connections to operate the engine, transmission, and all vehicle controls.
Being a Corvette fly-by-wire LS1, Jack retrofitted a C5 Corvette accelerator pedal and throttle module for smooth operation. He then installed a new S10 fuel pump with an Aeromotive adjustable-bypass fuel regulator, managing the LS1’s out-put at 40psi.
Wanting to have functioning air conditioning in the humid summer months, modification of the radiator support was needed before installing a new unit. Jack then installed the condenser and cut and fit all of the A/C hoses.
Letting his creative skills shine, Jack fabricated a custom yet factory fitting exhaust, utilizing Car Shop 1-5/8 inch primary shorty headers, mandrel bent tubing, stock catalytic converters and O2 sensors all exiting from the passenger side with the appropriate rumble only a Flowmaster muffler can emit.
To get the LS1’s power to the pavement, Jack rebuilt the stock S10 rearend, which came blessed from the factory with 3.73 gears, adding Moser 1541H steel, direct-fit C-clip 28 spline axles.
To achieve more stockcar-like handling and a track-hugging stance, Jack rebuilt the front suspension adding red polyurethane bushings from Energy Suspension and 2-inch drop spindles up front and 3-inch aluminum drop blocks with longer U-bolts out back. Stopping power was beefed-up by way of a rear disc conversion and drilled SSBC rotors at all four corners.
With the LS1 small-block hidden from view, the overall theme of Jack’s truck would be evident from its exterior appearance. Already wearing a fresh menacing coat of black, it was an easy choice to honor seven time Winston cup Champion, “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt.
To fully accomplish the look, Jack’s “Craftsman” series tribute truck rolls on a set of appropriately named American Racing U.S. Daytona wheels, 16×8 inch all around wrapped in BFG 235/55/16 Traction T/A rubber.
Visually lowering the tough little truck, is a Wings West ground effects kit, applied and painted metallic silver with matching racing stripes by Body Works Collision in Lynbrook, NY. Jack added more aggressive curb appeal to the S10’s front with a Street Scene G5 bumper cover complete with metal screen inserts.
Rounding out the appearance package, Jack custom-fit and fabricated a NASCAR-style rear spoiler, and concealed the bed with a hydraulic lift tonneau cover. LED taillight pods were a nice touch from the previous owner.
Completing homage to the “Intimidator” would be custom fabricated magnetic decals by Kristen Pezzuto with pin-striping from Louis Costa, both from L.I. NY. Dressing up the otherwise stock S10 interior are a pair of Chevy Cobalt buckets and a B&M Quicksilver shifter.
When first meeting Jack some weeks ago, standing with a prideful smile next to his unique truck, his sense of accomplishment was obvious. From the engine compartment to the exterior enhancements, the final package is unique, complete, and not over-the-top; as if it were a special limited edition offered by Chevrolet.
After spending $4800 on the S-10 and $11k on its transformation, Jack is more than satisfied with the fruits of his labor. He loves the sleeper quality of his truck, as many unsuspecting challengers see only paint and graphics. Only after hearing the deep angry burble of the side exhaust do puzzled looks prevail.
Jack compares his S10’s performance and handling capabilities to that of an LS-powered Camaro or Firebird, which is impressive, when looking back at where he started.
With the rebuilt LS1 putting at least 300 ponies to the rear wheels of his 2900-lb. pick-up, Jack’s NASCAR -nspired street-rod is a little intimidating to say the least. Good work Jack, Dale would be proud.
- CAR: 1998 Chevrolet S10
- OWNER: John (Jack) DeLuca
- ENGINE BLOCK: LS1, 346 cid.
- COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.1:1
- CYLINDER HEADS: Stock, rebuilt, ported/polished
- CAMSHAFT: Stock
- PUSHRODS: Stock
- ROCKER ARMS: Stock, 1.7:1 ratio
- PISTONS: Manley ; .010 over
- RINGS: Manley
- CRANKSHAFT: Stock, balanced with Clevite main bearings
- RODS: Stock
- THROTTLE BODY: Stock
- FUEL INJECTORS: Stock
- FUEL DELIVERY: Stock pump with Aeromotive adjustable bypass regulator operating at 40psi.
- IGNITION: Stock
- ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Stock ECM, custom tuned by Current Performance
- EXHAUST: Car Shop 1-5/8 inch shorty headers, 2.5-inch collectors, mandrel piping, Flowmaster muffler; side exit, dual tips
- TRANSMISSION: 2000 Camaro 4L60E from Midwest Transmissions
- TORQUE CONVERTER: 1800-stall
- DRIVESHAFT: Custom steel, balanced by Nassau Driveshaft
- SUSPENSION (front): Stock with Energy Suspension red polyurethane bushings and 2” drop spindles
- SUSPENSION (rear): Stock with 3” aluminum drop blocks and longer U-bolts
- REAREND: Stock; 3.73 gears, Moser 1541H diff, direct fit C-clip 28 spline Axles
- BRAKES: Stock front discs with SSBC drilled rotors, rear disc conversion with SSBC drilled rotors
- WHEELS: U.S. Daytona rims 16×8-inch
- TIRES: BFG Traction T/A 235/55/16
- FUEL DELIVERY: GM LS1
- WEIGHT: EST. 2900-lbs.
- CURRENT MILEAGE: Motor-11k, Truck over 200k
Since obtaining his driver’s license way back in 1987, Andrew’s automotive interests have revolved around late-model, GM EFI iron. Predominantly a Pontiac guy, he had grown-up driving and experiencing many EFI cars from the ’80s to the present. Since 2008, he’s been a freelance writer/photographer for multiple niche auto enthusiast magazines and websites. Andrew claims to have a short yet definitve list of passions, in which late-model performance cars, hold a top spot.