Jim (& Will) Smylie's
1965 GMC Short Bed Stepside
When my son Will was 14, he started getting the itch for a driver's license and a ride. I had no idea where that itch would lead. He kept scanning the classified ads and finding pickups to look at. One day, he had to go and look at another old truck. So we went. One look and he said "I want that truck!"
That truck was a 1965 GMC Short bed Stepside with a 305 V-6 engine. Thinking carefully with the soft spot in my head, I bought it. The brakes blew out on the way home, so I had it towed the rest of the way. Just as well - no tags and no inspection sticker. There it sat, a rusting old blue pickup in a driveway that had manicured lawns all around and no junk pickups in sight.
We fixed the brakes then got the engine fixed (I thought). We started looking at body work, etc. We finally started to get serious and took it all apart until there was an engine sitting on a frame and a garage and yard full of rusty parts. Every now and then a neighbor would come by to inquire just what it was that we were doing. "Fixin' it" was the usual reply. We had all the body parts sandblasted and primered then we took it piece by piece to West Orange High School's Vocational Education department. Even though it was a rival high school, the young men did an outstanding job of body work and painting that old truck to the brightest red around.
We brought it home one piece at a time. Some pieces hung around in the garage for a while. Finally, three years after we started the project, it was all together. Everything was great except that grinding noise in the rear end. $1500 later, he was driving it to school just after his 17th birthday. Graduation came and went. Will remarked to me that there was something wrong with his engine. My mechanic agreed. He also said that he couldn't fix it. Bad news.
I got brave and got with Quincy Procell. "Sure I've done one, bring it by!" Procells's did a great job on the engine. It took a lot research to get parts for the 305 V-6 but they did it! I have a few minor things to finish on the truck.
Will is gone to Texas Tech as a freshman in Electrical Engineering and turns 19 on October 1st. Hope I can get it there in time! I never dreamed that that old truck would lead us on such a saga of good times in the driveway and going down the road. Five years of enjoyment for the both of us are almost at a close as the time comes to turn it over to him. Fortunately, I have a backup plan.
Will's brother Calvin is 4 years old and is already looking for his pickup that we can work on. Maybe by that time, I'll be able to afford to do it again!
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