I have been lurking around here long enough and decided that it was time to get my Gallery Submission in.
This all started in 1995 with the $500 purchase of a 1953 Chevrolet model 3600 (V8 swap project by the previous owner). He wanted to "restore" it, but finally realized that he would never do it. I think he had the wrong idea about what "restore" meant anyway. It came with a V8, no transmission and the heads, intake and hood were missing so basically a rusted ruined shortblock. The tires were dry-rotted but miraculously made the trip home and later moves across town and out into the country in November of 1999. I managed to remove the cab and front end and kept them inside my garage. The frame and bed sat outside in a prominent location where I couldn't forget my dream of building the truck into a four wheel drive daily driver.
No money and raising three teenagers makes for a disappointing outlook for a dream such as this and I was beginning to think that it would never happen and considered selling FOR ABOUT 15 SECONDS!
Fast forward to 2003, my oldest joined the Air Force, teenager two turned 20 and flew the coop, so I bought a 1973 Suburban 3/4 ton 4x4 with a 307, 4 speed granny gear and some fairly decent tires for $800. The body was rusted out under the doors and the truck had some serious electrical problems. I drove it home in the dark of night and the headlights would go out and come back on with that wonderful smell of electrical wire burning. I finally got my wife to pass me so I could tailgate her home without lights. Other than the brail method of night driving, the truck ran really well and seemed to have lots of power. I found a guy who made regular runs to the scrap yard and he removed the suburban body, leaving me the frame drivetrain and steering column
for free to me. We are still friends so he must have made out OK on the scrap prices. I parked the frame beside the 53 bed and frame
and started taking measurements and scheming a plan.
Every night I would come home and had to navigate around these two frames to get into the garage, so I thought about the project daily. The biggest obstacle I could see was the way the 73 frame had the raised areas over the axles, I kept trying to figure out what I would have to cut out to make it all work and what structural damage would I do by doing so. Then one day I suddenly realized that I was looking at the wrong approach and came up with the idea of hacking the 53 frame and putting it on top of the 73 frame, instant 7 inch lift kit without making dangerous alterations to the suspension. Some might say "now you are top-heavy and dangerous anyway", but that is not the case. In the end the added weight of the frame actually lowered the center of gravity making the old truck more stable than the original suburban.
I did some more thinking and even drew up a few plans for posterity over the winter of 2005-2006. The final teenager celebrated his 20th birthday in the spring of 2005 but was still living at home and the youngest would be a teenager in three short years so I knew that I had to get on the ball. For some reason though spring, summer, fall and winter came and went with no real progress. I considered selling again FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS! Another turn of the seasons came and went, the 21 year old moved out. I was really starting to get discouraged and started collecting other easier projects. My 1964 Plymouth Valiant
was bought for $750 and I dedicated some time making it reliable and trustworthy, now, I put about 300 miles a week on it back and forth to work. I did some trading for my 1966 Barracuda
, but it is not economical for driving daily so I just take it to the occasional cruise night. It's for sale if anybody is interested.
In the fall of 2008 I was driving the Valiant through a neighborhood nearby and a guy came running out to the street and flagged me down. He was a rat-rodder type who was building a Valiant convertible car for a friend and needed some help with it. We started hanging out together and working on his car project but I still wasn't making any progress on my truck. Enter new stovebolter, 1937ChevyPU (Jeremy) a mutual friend I met through the rat-rodder. Turns out the rat-rodder had sabotaged his project over the winter, we don't know for sure if it was a sick joke gone bad or what, but we decided to sever the friendship and move operations to my garage. The first day there we cleaned out the garage and uncovered the 53 cab, Jeremy said "What the heck is this?" and I explained all about the dream and the truck frames outside and he said "Well let's do it!" so we started the next day. That was March 04, 2009, the next day the suburban frame got power washed and moved inside. Things began happening at a record pace and I have to give all the enthusiasm credit to Jeremy. I think he might have been a little skeptical of the plan at first, but by the end of April we had assembled the truck completely and driven it around the block. Then we took it all apart again and started the paint and body work.
This story is getting pretty long so I won't bore you with all the details of how the body work went, or how the frame was still too long for the original bed but in the end what you are looking at all started with a hair-brained idea and a dream of having a vintage looking daily driving truck that is just like everybody elses.