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1984 Chevy Shortbed - Sneak Attack

Posted in Features on November 29, 2006 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy of John White

Some trucks grab you. Others pull you in, inch by inch, until you're hopelessly entangled. While the Corvette Red on this '84 Chevy shortbed is undeniably eye-catching, it's only the first layer. There's a lot more underneath.

John White of JB Conversions weighed his options carefully when planning the Bow Tie's buildup. "We wanted to build a truck that was very reliable and easy to work with," he relates. "We wouldn't have anything in the truck that might be difficult to diagnose or tweak if a problem arose on a remote trail. Durability and simplicity were the keys to the build, and this was best achieved by going with proven parts that have been available for years.

In the short span of three months, John, with tremendous help from Norman Neely and James Law and company (Law's Motorsports), orchestrated one of the cleanest truck buildups we've seen to date. The final product, pictured against the red rocks of Moab, Utah, was built from not one, but three donor trucks. An '84 2WD contributed its still-pristine cab, doors, front clip, and bed. An '86 shortbed 4x4 with mangled sheetmetal was used for its frame, and an '87 Suburban with a loaded interior was plundered for creature comforts. John and crew connected the rest of the dots with parts pulled straight from many an off-roader's wish list. A TBI Scoggin-Dickey crate motor feeds into a Bowler Performance Transmissions Turbo 400. GM's parts interchangeability is renowned, and we wonder why other OEMs haven't built more uniformity into their truck lineups over the years.

Aft of the tranny, John teamed up with CAD designer Brent Boykin to design what the off-road world has needed for decades: an NP205 transfer case with a sensible Low-range ratio. Until now, enthusiasts who wanted to take advantage of the bombproof reliability of the geardriven NP205 also had to put up with the inadequate 1.96:1 Low range. While lower gearsets have been available for many popular transfer cases, such as the four-cylinder Toyota 'case and the Dana 300, the NP205 didn't lend itself to gearing changes. The obstacle faced by would-be NP205 Low-gear builders was the sheer size of the Low-range gears. To make a lower gearset for the NP205, JB Conversions not only had to facilitate the design and manufacture of the 3:1 gears, but it also had to manufacture a completely new NP205 housing. In a truck where everything is ultraclean and performance-filled, the LoMax NP205 overshadows the rest of the components as the biggest news.

The LoMax feeds into a pair of Tom Wood's driveshafts and connects to a Dynatrac Dana 60 front axle and an AAM full-floating 14-bolt rear axle - two of the finest axles ever to traverse dirt or pavement. Finally, the power reaches terra firma through a set of Detroit Lockers, 4.56:1 gears, and a Mickey Thompson/Dick Cepek rolling stock combo.

There's not a speck of rust to be found, and no errant threads protrude far beyond the nuts holding the bolts in place. It's clear that perfection and attention to detail permeate this truck, radiating from the transfer case amidships. If you're lucky enough to spot JB Conversions' latest flagship on the trail, be forewarned: It takes far more than a casual glance to fully appreciate this truck. As we said, some trucks grab you, and others pull you in. Consider us captured.

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