My dad purchased our project truck from one of his co-workers in July 1999. My dad's co-worker's son had started restoring the truck, ended up moving out of state, and the truck had been sitting in a garage in Elma, WA. When we found it, the truck was not running, both doors had been removed, it had 4 different sizes and makes of wheels, the wiring for the entire truck had been removed, the interior had been gutted, the bed wood was rotted, among many other defects and missing pieces. As part of the $800 purchase price for the truck, my dad also got two, non-running Craftsman riding lawnmowers that were in the garage with the truck. My dad later fixed and sold both riding lawnmowers to recoup the purchase cost of the truck.
The restoration started with us removing the bed, cab, and body panels to get to the frame. The front quarter of the truck frame was cut and a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am front clip grafted on. The Trans Am clip was selected for its large power disc brakes, power steering, and larger sway bar. At the rear of the frame, a 1965 Ford Mustang gas tank was installed between the frame rails beneath the bed. The frame was cleaned and painted.
Once the frame work was complete, the cab and bed were re-installed. Patch panels were installed in areas that had been rusted out; the truck's original firewall, gas cap, and bed post holes were filled and shaved; and the tailgate received custom treatment with an embossed Chevrolet logo.
Final body work and paint was done in my dad's shop by a family friend. We scored a deal on a straight '57 grill at a vintage swap meet and had it sent out for re-chroming. The bumpers are reproduction chrome bumpers from Chevy Duty. The American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels and Toyo tires were a high school graduation gift from my parents. I found a front bench seat in the local classifieds and sent it out for reupholstering. In the bed, we chose pine bed wood and chrome furring strips and hardware.
The truck is about 85% complete. Miscellaneous electrical/wiring, transmission lines, etc. still need to be finished before she is ready for the road.
The truck is about 90% complete. Throughout summer 2018, we've been making sporadic yet steady progress on completing the truck.
I had planned on taking the truck on a 10-15 minute shakedown run, however I drove the truck about a quarter mile down the road and discovered that it wasn't shifting into third gear. I turned the truck around and pulled it back in to my dad's shop and discovered that we forgot to hook-up the vacuum actuator. While I was under the truck, I also noticed a leak from the transmission pan gasket and replaced it.
I drove the truck 6 miles today. The truck ran perfectly. The truck feels well-planted. It turned into corners very nicely and the throttle is responsive, even at low speed and RPMs. It's a street truck and the gearing was selected for highway speeds and cruising. While on the drive, I noted a few harsh metal on metal noises while travelling over dips in the road. When we got the truck home and lifted it, we discovered that the driveline had rubbed against one of the crossmembers. I have a spare, smaller diameter driveline that we can swap in before we start modifying crossmembers.
Summer 2018 Worklog:
Installed new wiper motor from Newport Engineering (solved stereo clearance issue) - July 2018
Installed stereo and speaker wiring from Custom Autosound - July 2018
New front tires mounted (solved tires rubbing against inner fenders on full-lock turns) - July 2018
Completed wiring installation - August 2018
Installed instrument gauge cluster - August 2018
Installed the bench seat - August 2018
Re-assigned the truck's title - September 2018
Fixed emergency brake - September 2018
On September 16, 2018, nearly 20 years and 2 months after we towed the truck home, we took the truck on its maiden voyage. Under its own power, we drove the truck out of my dad's shop, down his dirt road, turned around, and drove it back into the shop. It was only a three minute, half a mile drive, but it was THE BEST three minute, half a mile drive that I've had in some time.
To do list/items remaining:
- Final alignment of doors and hood
- After final alignment of doors, install interior door panels and hardware
- Install sound deadening
- Take truck in for custom upholstery
- Frame: 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am (front third), 1956 Chevrolet Truck (rear two-thirds)
- Rear/Ratio: Chevrolet Camaro, 3.08:1, posi
- Rear Suspension: Parallel leaf
- Rear Brakes: GM Drums
- Front Suspension: 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am, Corvette Springs
- Front Brakes: GM 12" Disc
- Steering Box: GM, rack and pinion
- Front Wheels: 16x8" American Racing Torq Thrust II, Toyo Proxes 225/40/16
- Rear Wheels: 16x9" American Racing Torq Thrust II, Toyo Proxes 235/40/16
- Gas Tank: 1965 Ford Mustang, 15 gal.
- Motor: Chevrolet V8 350 ci.
- Heads: GM, stock, iron
- Valve Covers: Edelbrock
- Carb: Holley 650CFM, Spreadbore
- Intake Manifold: Edelbrock Performer RPM
- Ignition: HEI
- Headers: Modified, after-market Camaro
- Exhaust: Custom, Dynaflow mufflers, 3" piping
- Transmission: Chevrolet/GM Turbo 350
- Style: 3100, small rear back window
- Fenders: Fiberglass (front), Stock (rear)
- Hood: '57, Stock
- Grille: '57, chrome
- Bed: Pine, chrome bed kit
- Tailgate: Custom
- Bumpers: Stock, chrome
- Headlights/Tailights: Stock
- Bodywork: Me, Dad, and James (family friend)
- Paint by: James
- Paint Color: PPG Bright orange, PPG Vanilla Shake
- Dash: Stock
- Gauges: Stock
- Air Conditioning: None
- Steering Wheel: Chevrolet Blazer
- Steering Column: Chevrolet Blazer
- Seat: Modified stock
- Material/Color: Cloth, Camel
- Upholstery by: Russell's Upholstery, Bremerton, WA
This truck will never be done. Here is a list of things I'm thinking about for the future.
- Easton Rear End Swap
- Holley EFI or FI Tech Fuel Injection
- Weiand Blower
- 18" Wheels
- Find a rear big window cab