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42000 original miles

By: Dan 11/11/2019

I bought this truck by chance in Denver summer of '19. I bought it from the original owners grandson. He had inherited it after his grandfather died in early 2019. It had sat untouched in a field for 10 years in east central New Mexico along with a handful of other automobiles granddad had collected.


The desert was good and bad for the old truck. The metal on it is perfect. The paint held up very well. Apparently tan is not phased by the sun because not only is it not flaking off, it still has a little shine to it. All the plastic and rubber on the truck are 100% cooked though! With the exception of the seat. Apparently the seat was covered with a heavy blanket from the start and is in very good original condition. Door panels, dash, floor....all toast. And when it comes to the engine and drive train...if it has a rubber seal or gasket...it leaks. And not just a little.


The grandson stated that he had driven the truck from NM to CO under it's own power. That is a hard to believe though. It has a 250 I6 with the cheap little 2 barrel carb on it. And that carb is shot. It will start and idle, but doesn't get around very well. It stumbles and spits a lot if you aren't patient with it. Your 0-60 times are measured in minutes.


All of the issues above really made the truck unreliable. The grandson thought he would like to have grandpa's old truck, but wasn't prepared for the trouble that came with it. To add insult to injury, he didn't have a place to keep the truck out of harms way living in a condo with not garage space. In a short amount of time being in CO the truck had been broken into and was beginning to become a trash receptacle for some of the neighbor kids who were to lazy to take their pop cans or fast food wrappers to a real trash can. When I first saw the truck it was sitting on the curb out on the main road. The reason was that it broke down and it was the easiest place for the tow truck to drop it. The old truck wasn't getting any respect.


I found the truck out of boredom. I was on a business trip for 3 days in the area and was laying in the hotel bed one evening with the TV on while thumbing through craigslist on my phone. The pics were very good on the ad, and the description was short and sweet. I called the grandson, well, because I had nothing better to do. He really couldn't tell me much about the truck I didn't already know from the pics. He did verify that there was not rust on it that he knew of though. I told him I would be up in his area in a couple of days and we got off the phone.


Two days later I was way ahead of schedule for the day and thought I would drop by and take a look at this old truck. The grandson had given me the address when we spoke on the phone, so I didn't need to contact him in advance. And I knew it was outside. This worked out great because I really wasn't looking to buy another truck that day. Especially since I was out there for work for another day still.


I pulled up at the condo and easily spotted the truck. Looked good from a distance. I pulled up behind it and parked next to the curb and got out. The first thing I noticed was that the bed was full of crap. Couldn't even see the floor through all the rubbish. Walked up to the passenger door and quickly noticed the vent window was broken out. And then just like the bed of the truck, the floor of the cab was full of crap. He had definitely been having some issue as there were several old parts and as many new part boxes laying on the floor. Along with jumper cable, a hydraulic jack, jack stands and a few other tools stacked in there. There there was all the interior pieces that were so cooked they were turning to dust. At first glance it all gave the truck a real 'basket case' kinda look.


I walked around to the front of the truck and opened the hood. I expected to find more trouble there. I figured there was going to be wiring harness 'modifications' and other sorts of trouble under there. I was surprised to find everything in good order to include the original jack and hardware still in place. I could even see grease pencil production marks on the firewall and core support. I got down on the ground a looked at the chassis. I again expected to find trouble assuming at this point the truck was originally from CO and had probably been exposed to at least some amount of salt during the winters. Nope. It was $&%! near perfect under there with the exception of some questionable exhaust modifications. The only thing that I really saw that was terrible was the dealer add-on bumper at the rear of the truck. It was sitting way to low, way to far out from the truck and was the wrong size for a stepside truck. It was way out of its realm.


At this point I decided I better call the grandson and see when he was going to be available. Just so happened he was already on his way home. 15 minutes later he was standing there leaning on the truck catching me up on the fact that his grandpa ordered the truck new, he remembered riding in it as a kid, and that it had only been in CO for a couple of months. He even stated that he should have some old documents from when grandpa purchased the truck, although he never found them while I was there. We spoke for an hour or so and I had decided I wasn't going to buy the truck. I had just purchased another truck very similar to it out of TX that was low miles and in better condition for less money. So I instead started talking to the grandson about what he needed to do to get the truck sold and get a good price out of it. Starting with simply cleaning it up and making it look less basket case like. He told me what he had done to try to get the truck running and I gave him a list of things to go through and check. I was truely trying to help him out. I actually wanted him to keep the truck and not sell it.


I was beginning to wrap it up and was plotting my exit and I think he knew it. So he threw out a lower number and asked if I would buy it for that amount. He cut his ask by about 50% and said he just needed it gone and that he thought I would take care of it instead of parting it out or tearing it up. I asked him to see if he could find the documents he mentioned earlier and to see the title. We then went to searching for a UHaul car trailer. Apparently Denver CO is a vacuum for UHaul equipment. It took almost 2 hours to find a dolly to move the truck with. A deal was struck, no documents could be found, dolly was secured and the truck was loaded. I shock the grandson's hand and got in my truck. As I put on my seat belt and looked back and he was visibly upset. I leaned out and asked him if he changed his mind. He said no and to go ahead and get going. He stood there and watched me drive away until I went around a corner a couple of blocks down. It sucked.


Two days later I'm home with the truck. Rolled it off the dolly and had a couple of neighbors come over and help me push it in the garage. The first thing was to figure out why it quit running. The grandson had just about replaced every part of the ignition. Just about. The new spark plugs had not sparked yet. Turned out the original spark module in the distributor was bad. $20 and a trip to the parts store and she fired up.


Next it was time to clean the ole girl up and see how bad the rest of it was. I had a large trash pile for sure. But I also found some treasure. All the documents the grandson said he had, they were in a bag stuffed under the seat with a bunch of trash. Grandpa's original bill of sale, three original cancelled checks that had to do with the purchase, registration and insurance for the truck, and several years worth of registration paperwork to include a couple of old tags were all there. I also found some old coins, the corner of a very old $20 dollar bill and a letter grandpa had written to his daughter (grandson's mom) where he was apologizing about and arguement they had.


A heavy duty deep cleaning revealed a wood floor that retains probably 60-70% of it's original paint. The rubber floor mat in the cab was turning to jelly. Turned out the brake master cylinder has a rotten seal in the back (imagine that) and fluid was dripping out and running down the inside of the firewall and eating the floor mat. It was also hard on the paint, but apparently hadn't been going on long enough to cause any damage to the metal yet. All in all it cleaned up very nice and I ended up with a lot of it's history in my hands.


As of right now (the end of 2019) the truck is on stands in my shop waiting for the next stage of it's life. It is a very basic old truck with few options. 250 I6, 350 trans, pwr steering, cig lighter and it had a radio in it that is missing. The original wheels are gone and have been replaced with after market 'wagon wheels'. It had no other options. My intentions are to stay pretty true to the original truck with a modern twist. It's going to retain a straight six, but it's getting a 292. That engine is currently being build by Tom Lowe out of Iowa. Should make about 260 hp and about 360 tq with Tom's carb set up. I'm going to take it a step further though and I'm going to put fuel injection on it (more to come later). It's also going to get an OD transmission, currently leaning toward a 200-4r I have in hand out of an 87 Monte Carlo, but won't rule out a 4L65 since I'll already have a computer for the fuel injection that could also control the trans. Probably a limited slip dif with the original 3:42 gear ratio. I have a set of GM 'Styled' wheels to replace the aftermarket 'Wagon wheels'. And I'm thinking of installing a set of low back bucket seats that I have laying around from a 75 GMC K20 I liberated them from before the truck got crushed. Clean up and replace the rotten interior pieces. Probably won't even paint the ole truck. But that horrible dealer installed bumper is already long gone!



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