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Off-Road Attitude

Posted in Features on August 17, 2002 Comment (0)
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Off-Road Attitude
Contributors: Skip Baker

Bud Vandermel chose to display some attitude coupled with Chevy prowess when building his '78 Scottsdale off-roader. His longtime affliction for trail-blazing adventures and serious mud-crawling fun helped him create an off-road machine that unquestionably makes a statement. A blending of classic Bow Tie grit and Bud's need to have a tough, functional machine initiated his 9-1/2-year quest and all-out dedication to this buildup. This standout 4x4 has come a long way from its factory OE condition to the attention-grabbing mudslinger it is today.

Wanting to run with the big trucks, or wanting them to follow, Bud's off-road machine needed to be tall, and it needed to display dominance. To get the altitude, Bud installed 8-inch Skyjacker Softride leaf springs front and rear, a 2-inch Trail Master traction lift, and a 3-inch body lift. Using some simple math, Bud wound up with 13 inches of boost. The rear axle was pitched for better articulation and drivetrain angle; the shock mounts were relocated for more effective damping. The addition of Skyjacker Nitro shocks -- two for the rear and four for the front -- were added to keep the ride under control. Two Skyjacker Nitros and two Hydros were custom-stacked and added for steering dampers. The lift gave Bud plenty of room to add big meat under the fenders. A set of 40x17.50x15 Gumbo Monster Mudders mounted on 15x14-inch Bart Monster Wheels.

Looks without power is not an option, so the Chevy 350ci four-bolt main block was massaged and given new life with TRW pistons, a high-performance cam, and a 600-cfm Holly carburetor. Final displacement after machining was 355 cubic inches with a compression ratio of 10:1. An HEI Ignition system was installed for a more potent spark. For smooth-flowing aspiration, Flowtech Headers were added along with a 3-inch aluminized Flowmaster exhaust system. All functions of the engine are displayed and monitored with a set of Sunpro gauges and a tachometer. Taking the power from the engine and getting it to the wheels is a GM Turbo 350 tranny with a B&M Shift Improver Kit to help kick through the gears. Before the energy hits the ground, it's channeled through the front Corporate 10-bolt and the rear GM 12-bolt axles with the assistance of a Powertrax limited-slip in the front and a Detroit Locker in the rear. Both front and rear axles were geared to 4:56.

Now, being the stand-up and standout person that Bud is, enhancing the attitude of this truck was very important, so the vehicle was shot with the famous '69 Chevy Hugger Orange using DuPont paint. The color was laid down by Paint Plus of Mishawaka, Indiana. The undercarriage and frame were detail-painted with matching colors for an added show finish. The bed of the truck was designed and creatively finished by Bud. The interior was also completely torn out and retrofitted to fit Bud's personal taste. This work was completed by none other than Bud himself. His handiwork included the installation of '86 Chevy Cavalier bucket seats and the skillful chroming and installation of the rollcage.

This off-road vehicle is driven on and off the road on a daily basis. It's also used extensively in the backwoods and trails around Bud's home, yet it's maintained enough to display in the abundant truck shows Bud likes to frequent. At a glimpse, this 4x4 exhibits a dominance and a little arrogance with attitude. The imagination in creative craftsmanship put forth here was certainly an important role in the final and inspiring end product. The addition of the Chevy Orange brings back an era of iron and steel rather than today's plastic and aluminum, and it's also reflective of a time when visual stimulus, color, and style actually had a meaning, not a cover.

Specifications
Owner/hometown: Bud Vandermel/Elkhart, Indiana
Make/model: '78 Chevy Scottsdale Stepside
Engine: '78 Chevy 350
Wheels/tires: 15x14-inch Bart Monster/40x17.50x15Gumbo Monster Mudders
Shocks: Skyjacker Nitro and Hydro
Exhaust: Flowtech Headers, Flowmaster 3-inch exhaust
Additional features: B&M Shift Improver Kit; Detroit Locker and Powertrax limited-slip; HEI ignition; 8-inch Skyjacker leaf springs; Grant steering wheel; Sunpro gauges

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