Classic trucks aren’t always the most practical choice, but their stylish utility is part of their appeal. That doesn’t stop people from trying to make improvements, though. Some, like better rust protection or electric conversion, are meant to make classic trucks easier to drive and live with. But other classic pickup owners go for a more comprehensive restomod, completely overhauling the truck while keeping its style. And some of these restomod builds can be a little…extreme. Rtech Fabrications’ Chevy C/K trucks aren’t for everybody, but they are definitely well-engineered.
The history of Rtech Fabrications’ builds
Both the Ponderosa and Duke, as they’re called, started off as normal Chevrolet C/K trucks. The Ponderosa (the green one) was originally a 1966 Chevy C30, and the Duke a 1970 C50. But Rtech didn’t just refresh the paint and add new suspension components. The company, in a way, reinvented them.
Chevrolet never made a C/K crew cab. But Rtech founder Randall Robertson wanted to make one, anyway. So he took his own 1966 C30, cut it and half, and placed on a flatbed K30 frame. And that was how the Ponderosa started out, as a singular prototype.
Robertson still drives that same prototype as his personal vehicle, Motor1 reports. But now, it’s become the inspiration for a whole line of vehicles. And the 175” wheelbase and hand-fabricated crew cab bodywork are only the beginning of the Ponderosa’s features list, according to Motor1.
Rtech Fabrications also installs a 6” Skyjacker lift kit, along with dual rear wheels. The wheels are 20” American Force units and are shod with 37” Nitto Trail Grabber tires. Helping the truck deal with the rubber is its new Dana 60 front axle and Dana 70 rear axle. These new axles also allow Rtech to install four-wheel drive, something the C30 never offered.
The Ponderosa’s off-road capability doesn’t just stop with 4WD and massive ground clearance, though. It also comes with Bilstein 6100 Series remote reservoir shocks, a Warn winch, and Offroad LED lights.
But Robertson did also want to make the Ponderosa something that could theoretically be daily-drivable. With the truck now 8’ tall, power-extendable running boards were a necessity. But there are other modern touches: power windows, air conditioning, even a Bluetooth-equipped audio system. The pickup bed is also updated, with wood panels and a gooseneck hitch.
However, all these modifications add a lot of weight. The Ponderosa weighs 8,300 pounds. The stock engine wasn’t going to cut it. That’s why Rtech fitted the Ponderosa with a 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6.
The company sources the engines from Dodge and Ram trucks—GM uses Duramax diesels—but disassembles and inspects each engine before installing it. The Cummins engines are also mildly modified, with different camshafts, valve springs, and port polished cylinder heads. Rtech also fits an improved intercooler and electrically-controlled fan, for better temperature control.
With all that, the Ponderosa’s engine makes 550 hp and 1,400 lb-ft of torque, linked to a 5-speed manual transmission. And with a 60-gallon fuel tank, the truck can allegedly drive from Forth Worth, TX to Las Vegas without refueling.
The Duke is also based on a Chevy C/K truck, but its design is a bit different than the Ponderosa’s. Rtech Fabrications started with a 1970 C50, but Robertson wanted the one-model-year-only side panels from a 1972 truck. So, the company took the C50 and modified it to look like a 1972 model. But as you can see, it didn’t stop there.
The tires are also Nitto Grabbers, but 40” ones, mounted on KMC Hoss 2 wheels. And of course, the truck is lifted and has 4WD with transfer case. The Duke also has a 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel, but Rtech is still tweaking it. Apparently, the company plans on producing a twin-turbo, 1000-hp package for it.
Inside, the Duke is arguably more luxurious than the Ponderosa. The seats are from a 2010 Sierra and feature some rad plaid. There’s also an electric sunroof, a screen linked to the back-up camera, and satellite radio (the running lights on top disguise the antenna). Motor1 also reports the Duke has powered running boards to help people get in.
But perhaps the most impressive feature is the Duke’s tilting bed. It doesn’t just let owners fulfill childhood Tonka truck fantasies, it also allows better access to the custom A/C and heating systems.
Rtech Fabrications build pricing, availability, and practicality
If we’re honest, few people will ever need a 21’ foot long pickup truck. Especially one so high off the ground. The Duke may have a back-up camera, but parking an Rtech truck seems more like mooring a boat. However, Robertson and his company have clearly put a lot of time and effort into these trucks’ engineering and design. Which also explains the trucks’ starting price.
Both the Ponderosa and Duke start at $150,000. Being custom vehicles, customers can add more options from there. Robertson even reports one Duke buyer requested a Duramax, instead of a Cummins diesel.
Are Rtech’s trucks overkill? Just a bit. But they’re at least stylish, well-made overkill.