By Dale Cory
It hasn’t been easy.
It took a lot of money. It took a lot of time.
And, it took a lot of effort and perseverance, especially considering what Craig Pateman had to overcome to achieve his goal.
Three years ago, Pateman embarked on a costly and time-consuming journey.
His vision? To tear down, then rebuild a 1984 Chevy S-10.
It took Pateman — who had a lot of help from his friends — four and a half years to get this striking low-rider on the road.
It would turn out to be one of the toughest periods in Craig Pateman’s life.
To understand what this guy has accomplished, you first need to understand what he has been through.
Pateman was forced into a reality check five years ago, when his motorbike hit some loose gravel while he was merging onto a highway. The now 28-year-old lost control of his ride, and his body slammed into a guardrail, leaving his left arm completely paralyzed.
“The transition was difficult. It was more of a struggle internally than externally,” he admits, his mind wondering back to that day, and that time in his life. “I had to get over the fact that I wasn’t able to pursue something like this professionally, which was a bit of a blow. But I have a pretty good support system.”
Still, there were many obstacles Pateman had to overcome.
“Things that were a challenge right off the hop — trying to do your zipper up, or trying to sign a paycheck,” recalls Pateman. “These were things many people take for granted, myself included. But it could have been a lot worse. You just make the best of the situation.”
For this former auto body technician, losing the use of an arm was devastating.
However, reality set in, and he quickly adapted. Life had to go on.
But, why take on this daunting task of rebuilding a vehicle from the ground up?
“To challenge myself. This was going to be my career. Then (after the accident) it became something I thought I would never be able to do again,” reasons Pateman. “It’s something I’ve always been passionate about — and not so much for the show-off reason, because I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself — but I like a challenge. And, I’ve always been fairly competitive.”
So, he set about rebuilding a truck. His first task was to strip the Chevy S-10 down and blast the frame to give it a new clean base. The original cab had too much rust and a home-built sunroof that had to go. Enter the first of many donor trucks. Pateman stripped it down just to use the cab, which wasn’t in much better shape, but had a solid roof.
Under the hood, Pateman’s S-10 has a 383 small block stroker with aluminum heads and a BG fuel system.
With the power plant installed, his next step was mounting the fuel cell and relocating the battery under the truck box behind the axle for added traction. And, according to Craig, installing a new painless wiring harness wasn’t really that painless.
“With the wiring competed, we fired the motor,” remembers Pateman. “At last I heard it come to life. With it running, I did what any decent guy would do. I drove it down the street at midnight with no hood, no doors, no box on, and no exhaust.”
Oops, sorry Craig, outside voice!
Finally, Pateman’s S-10 was ready for a paint job, which would not be easy considering his dilemma. But Pateman soldiered on to get the truck ready for street use — legal street use.
“It had been along time since I last sprayed any paint but I was dead set on doing it. First, the cab was painted, and then the truck box. Usually the two are done together, but the one arm wouldn’t hold up to shoot the entire truck,” recalls Pateman, who was soon forced to deal with more trauma. “On the last coat of clear, I had an accident while trying to flip the air line over my right shoulder to keep it from dragging over the work. My arm went up and the lid came off the HVLP (high volume low pressure) gun and I was covered in clear. The chemicals started to burn and sting my skin, so off my cloths came. I had to finish clearing in my boxer briefs. I was glad it was after hours.”
Pateman estimates he has spent $35,000 on his Chevy. He insists this is a passion, and money was not a huge concern, except maybe from his wife Jessica’s standpoint.
Overall, he loves his new Chevy S-10.
“The first thing I like about it is the colour of the truck, with officially is known as Copperhead Orange. The interior is a one-off. No one else has it. I guess the unique thing about the truck is me, and the ability to do everything with one hand. So, there’s a lot of uniqueness and details you wouldn’t find in another truck like this. I’ve done some modifications to the firewall so I can access all the bolts with one hand. Not every other vehicle has that. I can drop the fuel tank with one hand. It’s user friendly for me.”
On the track, Pateman can take the 500 horsepower truck up to 200 mph, and his elapsed time (ET) is 12.3 seconds in the quarter mile.
“The engine is very unique in itself. And there’s the way it rides. It’s just a beautiful ride. When I go to the track, it’s a quick little truck. It’s everything you would want, and then some — without spending another $30,000.”
The final question for Craig centred around the fact he works at the Ponoka Chrysler dealership, but decided to rebuild a General Motors product. So Craig, did your co-workers question your logic?
“No, they’re all pretty supportive, and, they (Chrysler) haven’t built anything fast enough to interest me in buying a Dodge product,” insisted Pateman with a wry grin. “If they do, maybe I will think about it.”
Craig Pateman had a lot of help along the way, and would to thank Mica at Spelrem Automotive, Shawn at Reflections on Route 66, Lil’ Jon, Rick, Big Bill, and especially, his wife, Jessica.
OK, enough talk. Let’s fire this thing up and hit the pavement!