Tom Tait is the original owner of the '74 4x4 3/4-ton Chevy Crew Cab shown on these pages. When Tony special-ordered his truck in 1973, he wanted a standard cab - and that's what he got. The truck never lived a pampered life as Tom and wife Barbara regularly journeyed from their Camarillo, California, home to the nearby deserts and other off-road meccas in the West. The Bow Tie has broken a few times and has been towed home at least twice; not bad for 28 years of hard running. Ultimately, Tony felt that his truck needed either a restoration or a replacement.
Replacement would have been easy because Tom is a Cadillac dealer, but he wasn't ready to make an Escalade the replacement for his K-Series, so restoration it was - but not just any restoration would do. Tom had grown weary of seeing so many Ford Super Dutys and so few Chevy Crew Cabs on the roads and trails around SoCal, so he decided to build his own Crew Cab. Tom also decided to equip his truck with single rear wheels to make it unusual. Searching around for a Crew Cab body to replace the standard cab was just the beginning. The standard cab frame was too short, so Crew Cab rails were located. Tom and his friend Gino Tidoni then went to work hanging all the old suspension parts onto the longer frame. While doing that, it seemed natural to upgrade the entire suspension with Rancho components, such as six RSX shocks in front, four in the rear, a hydraulic steering-assist arm, rear track-bar limiting straps, custom-made bumpstops, and Velvet Ride rear shackles; total lift is 6 inches.
502 crate motors weren't available for '74 models, but they are now! Tait grabbed a TPI Ramjet 502/502 from GM Performance Parts, added a K&N Filter, chromed engine accessories, braided stainless hoses for all hydraulic and fuel lines, and an Earl's polished aluminum coolant reservoir and washer tank. The exhaust uses Hooker 1-3/4-inch primary tube headers, 3-inch polished stainless-steel exhaust pipes, and dual Magnaflow mufflers. Everything is bolted to a 4L80 transmission equipped with a TCI Saturday Night Special 2,500-rpm stall-speed converter, which spins a 14-bolt GM rear axle and Dana 60 front, both turning a 4.10 gear ratio.
The wheels are Weld Racing Typhoons wrapped with Dick Cepek Kevlar F-C tires. On the body, a Trenz billet grille sits in front of a Hickey fiberglass low-profile hood. Xenon fender flares, a Smittybilt light bar and bedrails, and Manik 3-inch custom nerf bars are also part of the body additions. In the bed sits a custom spare-tire carrier, a Hi-lift jack mount, and custom-made stainless-steel strips. The paint is Dupont 2000 GM Indigo Blue with bright-blue metallic.