I've always had a soft spot for the early square bodies, so when this C20 crew cab in an awesome color and with the full zoot silverado package popped up for a decent price, I made the drive across the mountains to check it out.
The story was that the seller had a coworker who had owned it for many years, and when he retired he used the truck to drive his camper around the states. It then sat for a number of years before he sold it. It was in non-running condition, but the engine turned over and aside from some surface rust on the body, and a slightly crunched passenger fender it was in remarkable shape.
After looking it over, I was confident I could get it running without too much effort and even if not, I was pretty stoked on the overall condition. So, I paid the man - and after a sweat and swearing filled hour of come-a-longing it on the trailer thanks to a missing winch controller I was in business.
I got it in the shop and a closer inspection revealed that the fuel pump pushrod had been damaged (looked like during a fuel pump replacement) and it was bound up, preventing the fuel pump from seating on the block properly as well as not cycling with the cam. NAPA had one in stock, which was awesome. With the pushrod replaced and some fresh gas I was able to coax it to life. I had to replace the brake master cylinder and a front brake line before it was drivable. On that first triumphant spin, half the exhaust fell off, it could barely get out of its own way and I was scared I was going to blow out any number of the horribly dry rotted and bald tires - but I had a running, driving square body crew cab!
I came across this truck on the internet with late model 17 inch 8 lug Silverado rims and liked the look. As luck would have it, a set popped up on CL a couple of hours away from me. They fit well without spacers, but do require conversion lug nuts to allow the center caps to fit. For now its just the tires that came with the rims - 265/70r17. Zero rubbing.
While I was waiting for the lugs, I decided to see what I could do to revive the oxidized, presumably original, paint. It was way more work than I anticipated but I'm really happy with how it turned out. The Hexlogic pads are well worth getting - over the pads I got from Harbor Freight anyway. I went over it with an orange pad and the 3M Rubbing Compound, wiped off residue with a microfiber towel, and then finished with a white pad with carnauba wax. It's worth noting that the 3M Finesse-It polish in the white label shown below was not even close to being aggressive enough to clear the oxidation. This was my first buffing venture and there's so many different approaches I just had to try a few.
I started using it a bit for little things - mostly for an excuse to drive it. I'm not sure what a healthy smog era 454 is supposed to feel like, but it was near total dog status so in a fit of madness I convinced myself that tearing into the Qjet was a good idea. I bought a book on rebuilding Qjets and a bunch of parts from quadrajetparts.com and jumped in. In hind sight, I would either A) suffer until I was ready to drop fuel injection on it, or b) source a new carb probably a Holley. It runs much better now and can even spin a tire if you launch right, but still cold blooded as hell and needs a lot more tuning.
The next thing was to freshen up the front end. I bought some parts through LMC and I am very happy with them. I was a little surprised/bummed that the bow tie is adhesive backed foil, but the 454 emblem is beefy chrome pot metal. Did an oil change right about here with my super helper.
That brings things pretty much current. I did wipers, plugs and wires, diff fluid, put a hitch on it, maybe a few other little things I'm missing. I need to go through the brakes, I hate the glass pack exhaust that I cobbled back together, so those things will get addressed, but I'm not sure what the next major step will be. It actually cruises pretty comfortably on the freeway with the taller tires and 3.73 rear gear. That said, I can't escape that I want/need fuel injection and an overdrive. A lockup TC would be sweet as well. I've been all over the place - from a just a better carb and a trans swap, to a full top end kit on the current Gen IV 454 with some aftermarket FI, to a full Gen VI 454 swap, and lately I've been reading through the 8.1 swap threads. I'd love for it to be a short bed, but I don't want to cut this bed, nor do I want to have to paint it. Thoughts of a front axle float in my head every once in a while as well.
So for now, I'm just playing with it and pulling stuff now and again.