October 2008 On The Floor - Scratchin' The Itch
Every now and then, I get an itch to own a square-body C10 Chevy truck. Over the years, I've seen a few that I really loved the outside of, even though I despise the dashboard, hate the sagging, creaky, heavy Chevy doors, and know full well that dropping one more than 5 inches means the stupid front crossmember that Chevy installed too low between the front framerails is going to mercilessly bash the ground over dips and intersections when I drive too fast. With the right stance and wheels though, a square-body looks tough and won't break the bank.
I think I like the idea of making the boxy truck fast and nimble more than the idea of actually owning one. I really don't need another truck, and at some point my neighbors are going to freak out because I've got five vehicles taking up precious parking spots in our complex. Besides, unless I add the adjustability of airbags to the suspension, eventually I'll grind through the U-bolts that secure the lower control arms to that stupid crossmember, and then the front suspension will fall off the truck in a grocery store parking lot when I've got a load of ice and beer in the bed. Then I'll be stuck in the parking lot until a friend comes by with a scissor jack from a Honda Civic because that's the only jack skinny enough to fit under that stupid crossmember. It's not just a nightmare. It happened to me the last time I owned a square-body C10.
I shouldn't scratch this itch because my '67 is nowhere near complete, and I should definitely focus on it and not another project. But, as usual I'm telling myself that I'll just find a cheap square-body truck that I can work on as a guinea pig for some tech articles. That won't really work out though, because in my head I've already built this truck a hundred times and what starts out as a low-budget beater eventually turns into a corner-destroying monster that'll suck all the money out of my piggy bank. The truck ends up being neither cheap nor easy, and yet I'm still itchin' for one anyway.
I've been truck shopping almost exclusively on craigslist.org because it seems that's where the whole world goes to buy and sell old cars and trucks now. Shopping on craigslist isn't quick or easy either. Aside from narrowing down your choices to a city and that you are looking for a truck and not a vintage Hulk Hogan action figure, you've got to wade through a plethora of crap you don't want to buy before striking gold. And you have to do it every single day because that's how often the site is updated, and there are a hundred guys like me looking for that perfect square-body C10 Chevy truck. If I don't spot my truck in the first few hours that an ad appears online, it'll be sold to some other sucker. These things are getting expensive too.
I'd like to have a 1/2-ton, shortbed truck from 1973 or 1974, because in California you don't have to submit to a smog inspection if your truck was built before 1975. That means I can do whatever the hell I want with the truck and not worry about the DMV ruining my fun. In the past, the no-smog thing has priced the few trucks I've found out of my reach. It seems that every seller thinks his rusted-out hulk with the holes in the bed and the rod-knocking engine is worth 3,000 bucks just because I won't have to smog it after getting raped... oops, I mean buying it.
My budget is about 1,500 bucks, so I've also started looking for dead diesel trucks of that era. I won't have to smog a diesel truck either, and once again I can do whatever the hell I please with it. Chevy put diesels in these trucks right up until 1987, and some of them were installed into 1/2-ton shortbed models, so that opens up the playing field a small amount. The 350-cid diesels in most of the early square-bodies were built by Oldsmobile and are some of the worst engines ever produced, so a diesel-to-LS small-block swap would be way cool. People are pretty much giving away dead diesel trucks, but I've had no luck finding a shortbed truck in my area.
I did strike gold this morning though. I was the first guy to call about a '73 1/2-ton shortbed with a supposedly rebuilt small-block, Turbo 400 tranny, rally wheels, B&M shifter, and very little rust. Sometimes I quietly thank God for heshers because the dude selling this truck had no clue what he had and pretty much gave away the truck. It was leaking a few fluids, the registration was expired, the interior was trashed, and it was missing the tailgate. Aside from those issues, the truck was turnkey. It went, it stopped, and the lights worked. I offered 1,000 bucks cash for it, and the dude practically fell over before he could whip the key out of his pocket. He didn't even really clean out his stuff from the truck. He just grabbed his Metallica Black Album CD from the head unit and a pair of moldy house shoes from the bed.
This thing will likely cost me a few bucks less than I spent once I find all of the loose change the dude left under the bench seat. Score!
See ya next month.