When Bryce Schopmeyer of Bowling Green, Indiana bought this '81 Chevy, it was a clapped-out old company truck. The engine was shot, the body panels rusted and it had no bed. But Schopmeyer saw huge potential. He saw the K30's strong frame and 1-ton running gear as a foundation upon which he could build. So he began a ground-up restoration that would turn the wreck into a reliable daily driver that he could use for work and play.
After the truck was totally disassembled, the buildup began in earnest with the sandblasting and painting of the frame. Since Schopmeyer's plan was to install a big-block engine, he knew the stock fuel tank wasn't going to cut it. After scouring local junkyards, he found a pair of standard-issue fuel tanks that came on dual-tank-equipped Chevy pickups of the appropriate vintage, which he installed. Under the frame went a Skyjacker 4-inch suspension lift with single Skyjacker Nitro shocks at each corner. Since the truck would have to pull heavy livestock trailers, he raised the rear an additional 2 inches with the help of more leaf springs. He rebuilt the front Dana 60 axle and the rear GM 14-bolt axle, adding 4.10:1 gears, a rear Detroit Locker, custom diff guards and a pinion-snout-mounted rear driveshaft loop before bolting them to the springs. The stock steering was returned to its correct geometry with a Skyjacker 4-inch drop pitman arm, and Skyjacker dual steering stabilizers were installed to help control the 35x16-16.5 tires mounted on 16.5x12 Weld Stone Crusher wheels.
The chassis was now ready to roll, so it was time to provide it with a drivetrain. The first thing to go in was a potent GM Performance Parts 502ci crate engine. This engine sports forged aluminum pistons, Merlin cast-iron heads, 1.7:1-ratio roller rockers, polished Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, 770-cfm Holley Street Avenger carburetor, Hooker ceramic-coated headers and a Flowmaster 3-inch aluminum dual exhaust. Schopmeyer knew this engine was capable of handling all his power needs, no matter what he was towing or slogging through, due to its 480 hp and 515 lb-ft of torque. A polished 100-amp alternator and a Holley electric fuel delivery system were also added underhood. He completed the installation of the driveline by bolting in the original four-speed manual transmission, NP205 transfer case and a pair of custom driveshafts.
With the chassis ready for a body, Schopmeyer had his work cut out for him. He had no plans to re-use any of the original body parts because most of them were junk, so he had free rein to create whatever he wanted. He opted for a standard-issue regular cab and bed, but he sourced a complete '91 Suburban front clip for a different look. He also added a U.S. Body Source fiberglass cowl hood. After getting everything bolted to the chassis, he painted the whole works bright white and then added some blue and black graphics. He rounded out the exterior mods with some KC and Pro Comp Explorer forward-facing lights and a MAAP stainless steel rear bumper.
The last thing on Schopmeyer's to-do list was the interior. Here, he approached mods conservatively, recovering the bench seat with a custom Bow Tie-enhanced cover, a Sun Pro 4-inch tachometer, a Kenwood/-Kicker 800-watt audio system and a Cobra CB radio.
After three years of hard work, Schopmeyer accomplished his goal of turning nothing into something. He calls the finished product One Bad Ton. It's a powerful and functional rig he can be proud of, and he learned a lot along the way. In addition to serving as his main mode of daily transportation, the truck also serves as tow vehicle for his 24-foot-long livestock trailer. He also uses the truck for play, and it's a capable off-highway performer, as well as a crowd stunner during a year of pulling in the Indiana Tractor Pull Association.
pair of Euro-style taillights resides in the new GM bedsides, bringing a modern look to th
Owner: Bryce Schopmeyer, Bowling Green, Indiana
Vehicle/Model: '81 Chevy K30
Estimated Value: N/A
Type: OHV V-8
Displacement (cu. in.): 502
Torque (lb.-ft.): 515
Aspiration: Holley Street Avenger 770-cfm four-barrel, Edelbrock Performer intake, Hooker headers, dual 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers
A driveshaft loop retains the rear driveshaft, should the rear U-joint fail.
Transfer case: NP205
Front: Skyjacker 4-inch lift, Skyjacker Nitro shock absorbers
Rear: Skyjacker 4-inch-lift, 2-inch additional leaf-spring lift, Skyjacker Nitro shock absorbers
Front: Dana 60
Rear: GM 14-bolt, Detroit Locker
Wheels and Tires
Wheels: 16.5x12 Weld Stone Crusher
Tires: 35x16-16.5 Boggers
Interior modifications were kept to a minimum, and contain a few tasteful upgrades like a
The original Dana 60 front axle was rebuilt and hung on Skyjacker 4-inch-lift leaf springs
A fat big-block resides under the fiberglass cowl hood, and it produces approximately 480