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  • Letters To The Editor - Mail Truck - September 2008

Letters To The Editor - Mail Truck - September 2008

Sport Truck Letter Of The Month

Bruce Caldwell
Sep 1, 2008
Contributors: Mike Finnegan
Photographers: Charlie Hayward
The Reason Andy Works Here
When we first contacted Andy to come work for Sport Truck, little did he know that he wasn't coming to work here because he's an awesome art director or that it would be a great place to work on fulfilling his dream of owning a custom ride. In fact, the reality is our art director only works here to pay off his mother's debt. Seems about 10 years ago Mrs. Mock failed to pay for a $10 subscription to Sport Truck magazine. We discovered the discrepancy after an internal investigation as to why our budget is so limited. We wanted to get some killer T-shirts printed up and couldn't find a dime to pay for them until this little gem popped up out of a dusty old file cabinet. We figure that after 10 years of compounded interest over this unpaid debt, Andy needs to work off about 1.2 million dollars.
Sub Sub
I saw some pics on the Internet of some guys in Japan who turned some little minivans into replicas of '69-'72 Chevy Suburbans. It blew me away. What a great idea. I don't know what microvans they started with, but I was wondering how much trouble it would be to do something similar over here?
It seems like either the Chevrolet HHR or the Toyota Scion xB would be about as close to the Japanese minis as we can get. What do you think about this idea, and which vehicle do you think has the most potential?
Gary Daniels
via e-mail
Everyone who likes custom trucks must have forwarded those pictures to their friends. That's how we saw them. We thought they were great. It's a wonder someone hasn't tried something similar in the States already (if you have, please send us some photos).
From what we could gather looking at the photos, it appears that cloning the hood, grille treatment, side trim, and paint styles was the key factor. The grilles looked great in the photos, and we saw both '69-'70 and '71-'72 style grilles. The '71-'72 grille looked the most authentic.
The hoods strongly resembled the real things with the flat front, straight sides that taper to the rear, and center ridge. The headlight bezels looked like the real Chevy items, as did the bumper turn-signal lenses and front side-marker lights.
As for doing something similar, the '04-'06 Scion xB is a boxier base. There wasn't an '07 model, and the restyled '08 xB has a more rounded nose and weird headlights. The Chevy HHR was inspired by the '47-'54 Suburbans, but the nose is very round and the front fenders are much lower than the hood. It would take a considerable amount of bodywork or a complete custom fiberglass nose to give it a '69-'72 C10 look.
The xB has a much more square nose, although the headlights and grille are set back from the bumper/spoiler. The grille, hood, and headlights could be extended to give a flat nose like the C10s. Most of the key C10 parts are available in reproduction form, so they could be purchased and cut down/modified to fit the Scion. The '71-'72 plastic grille wouldn't be too difficult to shrink, but the grille surround could be tough. A front bumper could be cut, welded, and rechromed.
The Japanese trucks didn't use the lower deluxe C10 side molding, although one of them was two-tone where the trim would be on a real Suburban. Those trim pieces are available and could be cut down.
Using a '69-'72 two-tone paint scheme in era-correct colors would do a lot to evoke a classic Suburban. The rear driver-side door handles could be removed, filled, and opened remotely to give that authentic three-door appearance. Of course, the xB would have to be as low as possible.
Turning a Scion xB into a sub Sub would take a fair amount of effort, but the results would be super super.
Photo 2/4   |   mail Truck collection Notice
Photo 3/4   |   mail Truck suburban
Vin's Diesel
I own a very nice, rust-free, '85 Chevy Fleetside shortbed pickup that unfortunately has a bad motor. The 350 V-8 is knocking worse and worse all the time, so it's only a matter of time before it blows. The engine has over 200,000 miles on it, so it's done its time.
My cousin, Vincent, has a '78 Chevy C10 Fleetside longbed that's a total rust bucket. Vinnie's truck has a 350ci diesel engine that still runs OK. Vinnie plans to scrap his truck, and he said I could have the diesel engine for free.
I got to thinking that with all the fuss about fuel economy and gas prices maybe I could convert my truck to diesel. The two trucks are essentially the same and both engines are 350s, so could I either swap the whole diesel engine into my truck or could I take the best parts from both engines and make one good one?
Jimmy Spano
via e-mail
You couldn't take a thousand '78-'85 GM 350ci diesels and make a good engine. Oldsmobile developed the engine in your cousin's truck. It was the engine that almost single-handedly set back the cause of diesel engines in America by two decades.
The fact that your cousin's truck still runs is the result of a hole in the cosmos, or maybe it spent more time rusting than being driven. Most of these rolling, knocking smoke bombs self-destructed.
These engines literally destroyed themselves from the inside out. Few owners changed oil as often as recommended and this was critical because of the poor-quality diesel (high water content), the lack of a fuel-tank water separator, and weak head bolts. The water and the diesel's high sulfur content contaminated the oil, which led to internal corrosion. The water in the diesel caused head-gasket failures and, combined with weak head bolts, lots of ruined engines. The poor engines were under attack on all fronts.
The '78 Olds diesels were the worst of a very bad bunch. They took the longest to warm up. A safe warm-up time was one minute. Better glow plugs greatly reduced warm-up times but didn't cure the more destructive problems. Fuel economy wasn't all that great (low 20s), but it was better than contemporary gas engines.
As for engine interchangeability, there isn't any besides the valve covers and water pump. The bore spacing is the same, but the diesel used a heavy-duty block with unique internal components and unique cylinder heads.
Rebuild the engine in your truck or buy a compact pickup. Let Vin's diesel rust in peace.
Sneak Peek
Hey guys, I was looking at the Apr. '08 issue and was reading the "Attitude Adjustment" story on Galen's Colorado and noticed that on page 93 the rearend has drum brakes and on page 96 it has disc brakes. Did I miss something in your article, or did you just not mention that? Love your mag. Keep up the good work!
Dave Norgord
via e-mail
Nice catch there, Dave. Galen was photographing several articles at the same time, so you spotted the next upgrade, a rear disc-brake conversion. You can read all about that upgrade and how Galen fit 20s on his ride in the May issue of Sport Truck.
Photo 4/4   |   mail Truck 1967 GMC SWB
Nice Find
I have been fortunate in recently buying a '67 GMC SWB 1/2-ton pickup. It was an eastern Oregon farm truck, and it has only 80,000 miles on it. It's so basic that it doesn't even have a cigarette lighter! It's got a 250-cid six-cylinder with three on the tree. On the build sheet (found between the seat springs and the seat padding), it says the truck was assembled in California. How many '67 SWB trucks were built? I cannot get an answer from GM. Thanks.
via e-mail
Wow, you really found a low-mileage truck! Information on the GMC line of 1/2-ton trucks is hard to come by. Total production for the Chevy C10 shortbed Fleetside was less than 44,000 units, and since we rarely see GMCs on the road, it's a good guess that the GMC production total was far less.
Just Whistle
My '00 Chevy Silverado pickup has started making an odd whistling noise at low speeds. The truck has the 5.3L V-8 and an automatic transmission. I only notice the noise when the stereo is off. It's most noticeable between about 1,000 and 2,000 rpm. I've opened the hood while my wife ran the engine at different rpms. As near as I can tell, the whistling is coming from the top of the engine in the area of the throttle body. Does this mean that something is failing with the throttle body? What else could be causing the problem? Is it something to worry about or is it just annoying?
My truck is out of warranty, so I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks.
John Densham
via e-mail
Other owners of '99-'02 Chevrolet and GMC C/K-series trucks, Suburbans, and assorted SUVs have complained about similar noises. This is for trucks with the 4.8L, 5.3L, or 6.0L engines and VINs V, T, Z, N, and U. The engine RPO codes are LR4, L59, LQ9, and LQ4.
The whistling is caused by airflow through the intake manifold. The cure is to replace the intake manifold with part number 88894339. This would be easy if your truck was still under warranty. Replacing an intake manifold isn't difficult but it is time-consuming, so you could run up a substantial shop bill. As long as driveability is satisfactory, we suggest keeping the stereo cranked up.
Got Something To Say?
E-mail your letters to, or send them to:Sport Truck Mail, 2400 E. Katella Ave, Ste. 700, Anaheim, CA 92806.



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