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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 198
Wrench Fetcher
Hi! This is a sort of public introduction, a humble admission that I may have been way off base for way too many years, and the announcement of a neat project called SLURP.

My name is Jim Gnitecki (Jim G) and Im a rodaholic. Ive been playing with cars, trucks, and bikes since I was about 17 (about 40 years).

Being a baby boomer born in late 1950, I distinctly remember cars and trucks of the forties and fifties serving as hide and seek props as I played in the streets when I was 5 or 6 years old (in those days, you COULD play in the streets relatively safely compared to today!). I lived the American Graffiti dream with my high school buddies, and share the distinction of being one of four testosterone-charged guys in a souped up 30s Plymouth that around 1967 lost a race with a transit bus, when the sudden application of full throttle at a light caused first gear to abruptly disappear. I still remember the girsl we were trying to impress giggling at us . . .

I was the son of a struggling blue collar carpenter, and so in college, my daily transportation was a string of progressively larger and more powerful motorcycles (I couldnt afford any decent car or truck!). My roommates and I at one point actually sub-assembled a Honda 305 basket case within the basement of the boarding room house we were staying at (with the landlady watching nervously), completed final assembly outdoors in Southern Ontario Canadian winter weather, and actually got it running. My pride and joy bike of all time was the 1970 Norton Roadster I bought in 3rd year college. It had a propensity to vibrate its exhaust pipes off, and a clutch that only a weight lifter could love, but when you opened up its throttle, it was like an unstoppable locomotive!

When I graduated from college, I needed instant reliable, low input daily transportation, first to get to work daily, and later to shuttle a family around reliably, and so gravitated for years to newer cars that I COULD work on, but did not NEED to. I lost track of how many cars and trucks I have owned over the past four decades, but the count 10 years ago was in excess of 60. At one time, I owned two cars and six motorcycles simultaneously, and would have liked more, but being a family man with a mortgage and responsibilities, had to be mature.

I have a mechanical engineering degree and I manage large scale computer projects for a living, so I have this irrational drive to make every vehicle I own at least a little bit better, confidently assuming that I know something that the factory engineers dont! Thats how, for example, my all white automatic transmission 1990 Mustang convertible (a shameless attempt to inexpensively simulate the mysterious white T-Bird in American Graffiti, while still being able to haul a wife and 2 kids) acquired 3.73 gearing versus the silly 2.xx factory gearing, along with headers and minor other mods, and dropped its quarter mile time from 15.9 to 15.1 seconds!

Being somewhat of a techie, I have, until just very recently, over the years embraced the creeping invasion of onboard electronics, accepting that they would improve fuel mileage, emissions, and safety, while also enabling much more aggressive and precision tuning, because computers do react far faster than humans can when quick and decisive action is needed - sometimes many times per second. In the back of my mind, there was a persistent warning chime that kept trying to get my attention, but I happily ignored it until two months ago, basking in what aggressive electronic timing and electronic knock detectors could do working together, and enjoying the fact that shift points on an automatic could be adjusted by computer keyboard versus playing with a TV linkage.

The pivotal project that ultimately finally showed me the complexity and costliness of doing mods this way has ironically also been my most successful project by far.

In late 2004, I was a contract computer project consultant, and was temporarily unemployed. I had sold one of my two family cars, and I knew the next assignment would come soon (hopefully  ), and so I was on the lookout for the next right vehicle to play with. As fate would have it, GM had just four months before that reacted to automotive magazine criticisms that its gorgeous Chevrolet SSR retro pickup was underpowered because of its weight (4635 pounds before any fuel or driver), and had dropped the 400 hp Corvette LS2 engine into the SSR for the 2005 model year. This left a bunch of unsold 2004 300 hp LM4-truck-engine-equipped SSRs sitting on dealer lots, which did not sell well. Finally throwing in the towel, GM gave the dealers holding these some extra discounts, which prompted one of our local dealers here in Austin, Texas to drop the asking price a WHOLE lot, and caused me to drive over there and buy one! That turned out to be a momentous decision for me.

What happened is that I discovered an existing website devoted to the Chevrolet SSR,, and I quickly became first a rabid reader, and then a voluminous contributor to the content on that site. Over the course of the next couple of years, I was the visionary and guinea pig on a number of bold modification ideas, the majority of which turned out to be runaway winners. I quickly became the go-to guy on the website for any questions on mods.

I proposed for example that the apparently stiff factory rear axle gearing of 3.73 was in fact moderate and insufficient given the large tire diameter of the SSR (29.25) and its 4900+ pound weight with driver and half-full fuel tank. I proved it electronically by modeling the SSR in software that I wrote that was able to simulate a quarter mile run on the computer, and projected that even 4.10 gearing would be marginal, but 4.56 gearing would be ideal. I actually made the physical swap, despite the warnings that fuel economy and engine noise would both go to Heck. The results were as I had predicted: BETTER engine feel at highway speeds, incredible nimbleness around town, fuel mileage dropped only about 4%, and the quarter mile time dropped by over second, just as I had predicted.

The next step was headers and custom dual exhaust, designed by Reese Cox at MTI Racing. This added only about 18 rwhp, but improved torque by an AVERAGE of over 30 ft. lb. throughout the power band. The portly SSR was starting to acquire meaningful nimbleness.

A 2002 (not 2001!) Corvette Z06 cam, when added to the exhaust mods, produced an incredible 58 additional rwhp horsepower.

A Magnuson supercharger kit and painstakingly adapted 90mm LS2 throttle body (despite the incompatible electronics) got the dyno rear wheel horsepower to about 10 rwhp more than a current Corvette Z06, despite the automatic transmission. Calculations show that the lowly LM4-truck-based engine is now making close to 600 crank horsepower, and thats AFTER deducting the 67 horsepower consumed to turn the blower at 6300 rpm. Peak power is obtained at 6000 to 6400 rpm, and peak torque is achieved at over 5200 rpm (!), despite the truck heads on this engine!

I documented every single one of these mods (and MANY more), with all the attendant roadblocks and detours, in writing, faithfully on the SSR forum, and soon acquired a tremendous reading audience because I always reported all the facts with all the required hands-on detail. All this success, and the attention it got on the SSR forum, prompted a lot of suppliers to contact me and ask if I would be interested in installing their product onto my SSR and writing honestly about the results. I got a lot of the hardware I needed (e.g. an MMC driveshaft) on very attractive deals, or free, and paid a really good friend, Randy Peurifoy, who is a professional mechanic, hotrodder, and restorer, to help me get everything professionally installed so that my reviews would be fair and accurate.

I was persistently asked by many SSR forum members to write a book, which could act as a guide and an inspiration for others. I ended up writing and self-publishing a 320 page e-book that has sold like hotcakes. It has turned into the bible for anyone contemplating the purchase or modification of an SSR. (If you are interested, you can see my ad at
). Its been a GREAT ride for the past three years.

The bottom line is that I now have a VERY special SSR, supercharged, producing almost 600 horsepower, that gets a bit better than 20 mpg at a steady 60 mph on hilly divided highway, despite its refrigerator size and weight, and that could, if you have the skill to manage the traction (I do not), get to 60 mph in under 5 seconds, and run the quarter in the high 12s despite the 5100 lb. weight (with blower kit, driver, and half a tank of fuel). Not bad for a truck.

Trouble is, Ive hit the wall from both a cost perspective and a complexity perspective, and theres something inherently dissatisfying about a 5000 pound, high bucks vehicle. Let me explain.

I know what the SSR should get next. It should get decent heads to replace those LM4 truck heads that flow far from ideally. If you look at the dyno chart and the boost curve for my SSR, you quickly see that the heads are an obvious and highly effective next step. But, decent heads, plus Randys labor to install them would cost near $3k (I pay Randy market rate even though he is a good friend, because the workman is worthy of his hire and this is how Randy feeds his family).

The next step would be far costlier yet. I am safely and reliably running about 7.5 psi boost on the cast-versus-forged components LM4 (over 20,000 miles so far), but that boost climbs to 9.2 psi at high rpm, due to the truck heads becoming such a restriction. To run more boost, I would need to swap out the crank, rods, and pistons for forged pieces. That would generate a huge increase in power, but would be BIG money to do.

Then, theres the complexity. The results of all the computerization and sensors are certainly impressive (e.g. the engine idles at 16 inches vacuum, and there are zero external clues that it has been so significantly hotrodded, except the exhaust tone). But, this is no longer a vehicle that you tinker with in your back yard. You need a laptop and EFILive software to diagnose and tune it. The wonderful sound system is certainly impressive (best Ive ever had), and the ride is certainly quite and smoooooth, but theres an awful lot of hardware and knowledge inherent in achieving these.

Theres also an awful lot of weight. Isolation from noise, vibration, and harshness (the NVH that automotive engineers are always talking about) requires materials that have heavy mass. And, some individual items like that power, multi-dimensional driver seat weighs a LOT. Twenty inch wheels and tires are inherently heavy. And, the SSR is a RETRACTABLE ROOF pickup truck, and that adds not only the weight of the retractable roof and its operating mechanisms, but also requires a lot of additional weight in other body and chassis structure, to keep a convertible pickup from becoming a large noodle. This is weight that you cannot significantly reduce, at least not without spending WAY too much on carbon fiber this and that!

My overall feeling is that my SSR is a wonderful vehicle just the way it is now, but trying to do more would be a case of spending lots of time and effort to get returns that are less impressive than what has already been achieved. This is the right point to stay at. I should simply enjoy it.

But that is not me. As my wife has pointed out, I always need a project.

So I have found one.

It all started subtly when I did the research for my e-book. You see, the original SSR show truck design was based very clearly upon the 1947 through 1955 Chevy Advance-Design pickup series. If you look at photos of an SSR and of an Advance-Design series truck, you can clearly see that.

(Posting continued below . . . )

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 198
Wrench Fetcher
And, its much more than simply the same design cues. The SSR show truck was intended to be a recreation of the simple and unpretentious pickup truck characteristic of the late 40s and early 50s. GM itself drew reviewers attention to the show trucks simple bench seat, column shifter, and simple pillar mounted mirrors.

But, somewhere on the way towards production, a lot of the SSRs simplicity vanished, as the realities of modern manufacturing, safety and emissions regs, and customer expectations on NVH and creature comforts each extracted their price.

What really caught my attention when researching the Advance-Design (AD from here on!) trucks was their simplicity, their pureness, and their light weight and easy / low cost maintenance that resulted from that simplicity and pureness. Do you realize that an AD truck weighs only 2/3 what the SSR, or any other modern Chevy pickup, weighs?

I was also blown away by the fact that there are at least ELEVEN nationally advertised suppliers who cater to AD trucks and their owners. The explanation for that sheer number of suppliers is that the original trucks sold incredibly well, due to both the post World War II sellers market, and the features these trucks encompassed (like cabs that were mammoth in roominess compared to their predecessors). This, coupled with the truckssimplicity and durability, has resulted in a large number of survivors. Hence, a good national market for parts and accessories even today.

I thought Wouldnt it be neat to buy, restore and refurbish, and reengineer one of these AD trucks and see how good a vehicle we can create based on a 50 year old but GREAT design? Wouldnt chronicling the entire adventure make another great e-book?

My wife, who is usually far more conservative than I am, really embraced, and blessed, this idea. That convinced me even more that I should take the plunge and go for it.

Randy is absolutely beside himself with joy that I have finally seen the light (Randys personal project is a 1958 Dodge Sweptside which he intends to restore to gaudy splendor). Another good friend, David Horner, who owns and runs Restoration Specialties in Marble Falls, Texas, where they do restorations and build well-thought-out custom street rods for those who want it done right, has been really encouraging me, and also is considering starting an AD project of his own in addition, based on the data I have brought him.

The project now has a name: SLURP.

This is an acronym for simple, lightweight, unpretentious, retro pickup.

And, its not just talk.

A few days ago, I purchased Red, a 1955 1st Edition, 5-window, Hydra-Matic equipped half-ton that you folks on this website already know a bit about, as Red was owned by Carter Gresham, one of the regulars here.

Carter had Red for a little over three years, and made many restorative and reengineering improvements in that time, similar to what I would probably have done. I intend to take the reengineering quite a bit further though.

I am NOT heading for either a restoration (faithfully reproduce what was there originally) or a typical street rod (IFS, V-8, 700R, 9 inch Ford axle, etc), although I will probably include elements of both. I am thinking SLURP remember, so I want:
- Simplicity
- Lighter weight where sensibly practical
- Nothing pretentious
- Preserve as much retro look as practical (practical, not possible)
- Preserve the utility inherent in a bench seat ton pickup truck

I also have a respect for history in general, and especially for specific historical survivors, who bear the scars and weathering that character is built upon. So, I am reluctant to change things that dont need changing.

So, for starters, that means no power windows or locks, no shaved power doors, no Mustang II frontend, and no sound system (not even a radio).

Im torn about that transmission. I love the history of that iron-case Hydra-Matic, and I also love its feel when driving Red, but I am concerned about how to get it properly adjusted (very tricky TV adjustments needed), and Greg Ducato, owner of Phoenix Transmission and a good friend, has warned me that parts for it are not common and work on it is a little more costly. It is also atrociously heavy 235 pounds! I would really like to keep it, but am still open to suggestions.

As far as engine goes, Red has a 261 from a 1960 truck, which Carter properly had rebuilt and warmed up a bit, via a Bulldog cam, Offy dual carb intake with dual progressive Carter Webers, Fenton split exhaust and dual exhaust systems. I dont know yet how well it works, as the Hydra-Matics current incorrect TV adjustment forces a shift before it hits 3000 rpm! I would LOVE to keep that engine right there, if someone can show me how to get 300 to maybe 400 crank horsepower out of it (maybe via a small blower??). 300 horsepower would be very lively, and 400 horsepower in this much lighter weight vehicle would make it fully as satisfying as the 600 hp in my much heavier SSR. If I could maintain this retro engine, that would be delightful! Yes, I know I can get a smallblock Chevy in there that will weigh less and make a lot more power for less money, and that is an option, but a retro engine has a charm to it . . .

Im planning on posting regular updates on my thinking and on my actual progress, soliciting advice and observations from all of you. Remember, I have only recently seen the light of a SLURP approach, so forgive me if I occasionally fall back into wrong thinking, and be sure to draw my attention to it!

As I post more information, I am hoping that some of you will be inspired to help me with suggestions, ideas, and criticisms, and maybe even be inspired to do something similar. All the while, I will be assembling raw data for that e-book.

Its going to be a heck of a ride. I hope some of you will consider riding along and offering advice based on experience stronger than mine.

To make future postings on this project a little easier to find, Im going to include the acronym SLURP in the posting titles.

Ride along with me if it would give you pleasure to do so. smile

Jim G

Last edited by JimGnitecki; Sat Jan 05 2008 08:12 PM.
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,161
Cruising in the Passing Lane
Hey Jim welcome to the Stovebolt!

You'll find all kinds here from completely original restorations, practical drivers that look original, mild hot rods and wild hot rods.

There are splash oiled motors with points and carbs, electronic ignition and multiple carbs, and computer controlled injection systems. Even a Diesel conversion or two.

Me I seem to be moving the oposite direction that you are. After insisting my toys have carburators and not require computers I've started moving the other direction. Somewhere along the line I realized that while I claim the old trucks are a refuge from the daily technology grind, I spend much of my 'truck' time reading the screen and banging on the keyboard. I might as well let the technology into the shop too...

We'd all like to see some pictures of your projects!

Its true, I really don't do anything but browse the Internet looking for trouble... . . .
'55 1st GMC Suburban . '54 GMC 250 trailer puller project. '54 GMC 250 Hydra-Matic . '54 Chevy 3100 . '47 Chevy COE . and more...
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,443
jdl Offline
Old Sub, just move the computer into the shop! smile

Jordan D. Long

1954 Chevrolet 3100 1/2-Ton

And some more pictures

I got a 'Possum Pickup... Now I'm the Roadkill King!!! Anyone want to make some Stovebolt Stew?
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 198
Wrench Fetcher
OldSub: I noted that the board does not want photos posted in the threads. How can I share photos here without posting them?

I have never used an external link for photos, and have no idea how to do that.

Jim G

Joined: Nov 1995
Posts: 5,834
Unrepentant VW Lover
Too Many -- You DO talk alot -- but that's okay, we still love you (um, like a BROTHER -- don't get excited!).

Jim -- Welcome -- great into!



"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
Will Rogers

'49 Chevrolet 3804
'73 IH 1310 Dump
'14 Ford E-350 4x4 (Quigley)

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 198
Wrench Fetcher
Yeah, I know I got carried away on this first post, but there was just so much to explain . . .

I wanted you guys to know that I had not just woken up one morning with a burning desire to build an AD truck! (Although I suppsoe that might have happened to more than one of you . . .) smile

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 198
Wrench Fetcher
Toomany2count: Thanks for the headsup on the photo handling mechanisms. I will investigate them!!

Jim G

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 921
Shop Shark
Jim, you're going to find a lot of differing opinions here. Oh, uh, welcome. I'll be watching closely what you post because I like the way you write, even though the SSR seems to me to be a fantastically wasteful vehicle, and 1/4 mile times are inconsequential to me. I know you won't take these little revelations personally: they're just opinions based on 30 years of working trucks instead of designing them. I love your idea of "no power windows or locks, no shaved power doors, no Mustang II frontend, and no sound system, and agree completely that you "can get a smallblock Chevy in there that will weigh less and make a lot more power for less money, and that is an option, but a retro engine has a charm to it . . .".

But I am wondering why your post was moved here. Wouldn't it get better exposure in General?

1951 3800

Be the change you want to see.
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,538
Workshop Owner
Hello JimGnitecki,

Welcome to the "Bolt". My involvement in this old iron addiction is purely a hobby, as I do not have the extra time or money to spend as do many of my fellow "Bolters". My main goal is to awaken a few old GM trucks from their long slumber, and get them back on the road. It started out as an innocent desire to tinker, investigate, learn a little, and obtain some personal satisfaction while I slowly revive my rusted clunkers. The real truth of the story, is that I am getting more out of this than I ever dreamed by just being able to hang out and occasionally contribute in these forums.

As my mechanical experience about these old trucks is very limited when compared to most of the elders, I will be lurking in the shadows anxiously awaiting your progress reports.

As you probably already know, there are lot's of good people behind the scenes of the Stovebolt. They really make this a great resource for us old truck lovers. I have a feeling that your expertise with the latest technologies will be well received by those that are looking to go beyond stock carburetors, and distributors.

Me? I just want to have fun. grin

Glad to have you on board.



J Lucas

1941 Chevy 1/2-Ton
1942 Chevy 1.5-Ton SWB
1959 Chevy Apache 31 Fleetside
1959 Chevy Apache 32 Fleetside
1969 Chevy C-50 Grain Truck

My Flicker Photos! []

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