Barrie Swanepoel's

1961 Chevy Apache 10


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12 March 2007
# 1871

From Barrie :

           Greetings from sunny South Africa! I bought this truck in 2006 from a classic car collector that had too many projects. It is a 1961 Apache 10 and is what I will call a “South African version.” It seems that GM, when they were still in South Africa in the early '60s, used parts from previous versions from the '50s to build the trucks. Talk about diving into the old parts bin! It is running and roadworthy. I drive it as often as I can although it is not an everyday vehicle.

           It has a 235 6 cylinder with a bit of a piston slap, but starts first time. It doesn’t use any oil and there are NO leaks. Parts in South Africa are a huge problem. I have to import from the US. This slows my restoration down because of costs. I have an extra engine waiting for a full rebuild. You can see it in the picture on the back of the truck.

           O ja, the trucks name is "Apricot!"

           As far as I can make out from the registration details, this truck was first owned by the TPA – the Transvaal Provincial Administration – a government department that also did road maintenance. It was registered up north in a town called Louis Trichardt. As you can guess, it had a hard life -- probably used by teams to do road maintenance. The bed is all steel but it has probably been replaced at least once. I will also have to replace it as it is rusted through in places and bends downwards. As of yet, I have not found a steel merchant that can sell or fabricate such a corrugated bed for me.

           It is right hand drive and has the original 3 speed with column shift. The original colour was a darkish red all over. The present paint colour took some time to get used to but I am starting to like it.

           Things I did already: replaced the clutch/brake master cylinder with a new unit. Replaced the clutch slave cylinder and all hydraulic pipes. Refurbished all the brake parts and replaced the brake slave cylinders. Had a struggle getting the hand brake working as all the parts were missing from the truck. Made my own plan here that actually works very well. “Tarred” the underside – here in South Africa we have a product called Iscor Black – it is a bituminous paint. Stinks like crazy for a few weeks but after that has been applied, you can be sure that it will never rust again. You can also not paint over it again with some other paint as it comes through. This is a very cheap but messy solution for undercoating a car. I also did a full service on the engine and it runs alright except for that rod/bearing knock or piston slap. It will have to be rebuilt. My next big project is to replace all front suspension parts, they are wasted!

           I have had this truck for a year now and visited a lot of classic car get togethers. These trucks are very rare here and I have not seen another like it yet.

           When I drive around town I always have someone wanting to chat to me. The other day a old guy told me they used these trucks and the later model Chevys and Ford F100 as police vans. A steel canopy was installed that had no windows so criminals could be locked in the back. I would like to have a canopy like that. Another guy said that on the farms, they used the granny gear to pull trees out – huh??

           Anyway, always someone wants to talk to me or gives the thumbs up – even beautiful young women. It seems not all of them are only interested in convertible BMW ’s!

           Ja, I am falling in love with the truck itself, but also with the whole "community." You really know how to make someone feel welcome! Isn't the 'Net a great thing to make the world smaller? When I grew up, we felt like the back waters (darkest Africa!). America was a fiction to us. You only knew about it from movies and tv! And sadly, the wrong things are sometimes portrayed. It is wonderful to be able to communicate with real American people. And in the end, we are bound by our common interest - old Chevy's. I bet GM did not plan for this years ago!

Barrie Swanepoel
Bolter # 13632
Johannesburg, South Africa

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