What is your project for?
This week as I was thinking about a subject for the Blog, my mind kept focusing on my GMC truck. So, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the truck both as THE PROJECT and what I really wanted out of it.
To start with, in 1999 my wife Lori and I went on a portion of the Hot Rod Power Tour (back when they came out West). We had a blast. You run down the highway with a bunch of other idiots driving some version of their dream car that may or may not be completely ready for a trip to the local parts store, let alone highway speeds and long distances. Such is the way a great adventure starts.
This is where my adventure started. When we got home, I had decided that the only way this could get better was if I could include my whole family. I have three children and my wife, so I decided that we would need a big truck with plenty of room for the famdamily and all our gear, oh and maybe even an entertainment system for the kids. Suburban is what came to mind – Dropped into the weeds - late 60’s - maybe a 68’ since that was the year I was born – Big Block – Plush! I found a 1972 Chevy Suburban within a couple of weeks of starting my search, it was rough and not entirely complete (like mostly missing) but the price was right ($200) and what the heck; I wanted to customize everything anyway.
Best Laid Plans – Oh sure I figured out that if I had started with a plan things probably would have gone much smoother, cheaper (VERY relative term) and quicker. So, I got the truck home and began a complete frame off build. First problem – Suburbans are UGLY and I was seeing them everywhere I looked - Solution #1, CrewCab Pickup, stills seats 5 and has plenty of storage. Oh, GM never made a CrewCab in the 67-72 body style * - No problem, I’ll just make my own. Second problem – I don’t like the Chevy front clip and I only really like the 1967 GMC Hood and fenders – Solution #2 , A Long Call to LMC Trucks and lots of sheet metal later I have all my patch panels for the rough areas and a new clip for my taste buds. So I start off by cutting the Suburban in half, and I find a 67 small window cab to take the rear panel from and with the magic of a tape measure, a welder and lots of grinding pads I have a CrewCab. Third problem – 2 wheel drive trucks are everywhere! – Solution #3, That’s Right – Lifted 4×4, this only required a custom frame and body/bed mounts – No problem (Can you hear the money falling out of my pockets?) Before long I had a bunch of parts that were starting to resemble a truck and, although I had come a long way the end was not in sight yet. Next we need a little motivation – Can you say 502? Well, say it fast cause it COST – Fourth problem, maybe my budget is more like a small block, but it just has to have Fuel Injection though, cause I hate to tinker with Carbs – Solution # 4, this is when I came across a nearly new (3 miles) 6.0L and 4L80e transmission – Sure I can wire that up (only added a few months). This was probably my best decision though, because this engine & trans have worked without trouble since I started them the first time. (you can hear a sound bite on the gallery page for the truck). Finally a little paint, (like three gallons worth) some interior and we are on the road. – Not so fast!
Now everyone knows I have skipped hundreds of steps and thousands of dollars just for the sake of making this readable, but you get the idea I think. Start with a plan and a budget and things will go smoother. Do it my way and you have a great truck AFTER 12 YEARS and a budget that would have bought my first house TWICE. Not that I could have done it much cheaper, but it would have been done way sooner. I LOVE my truck; it sits on 35” tires, is very drivable, has won awards, always gets a crowd to gather when I drive it and it is just plain COOL. But you know what we still haven’t done – another Power Tour and now my oldest lives 500+ miles away, the middle kid just started college and the youngest is a junior in high school.
So, did I Fail?
Maybe with the idea of getting the whole family to go with me on the Power Tour, but not when I look at what I really wanted – a Truck that I am proud to own and that, at different times, my family and I have taken for a drive to town, and most importantly, a truck my sons helped me build! So, I say Mission Accomplished!
* Yes I know, GM did make some for the railroad, not many – and they were not available to the general public. Also, they used front doors for all 4 – too ugly for me.