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Trail’s End: Flashback April 1992, Resurrecting A Non-Running 1967 Chevy 1/2-Ton Pickup

Posted in Features on July 24, 2017
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Photographers: Jimmy Nylund

Have you ever purchased a 4x4 and had no idea whether the engine even functioned? We have several times, and we documented a story about such a purchase in the Apr. ’92 issue of Four Wheeler.

The truck was a ’67 Chevy 1/2-ton pickup that appeared to have been sitting since the registration expired in 1975. We paid $200 for the truck after studying it from a few hundred yards away. We wrote, “Perhaps our purchase procedure didn’t proceed quite the way we’d recommend—we never even looked at the truck up close—but then again, the owner was likely to spread the word if we didn’t act quickly.”

It was well over a week before we went to get the truck running so we could take it home. Right away we screwed up by not bringing a towbar or another person to drive the truck after we got it running. We did bring “standard recovery paraphernalia” like a battery, tools, water, and air tank. Weeds had grown up around the truck, half the plug wires were missing, it was a straight-six and not a V-8, and the hood refused to budge from its wide open position. However, the tires had tread and held air, all the glass was intact, the keys were in it, and the brake pedal didn’t go to the floor. In the end, the first attempt to bring the truck home failed. We wrote, “On the way back, we couldn’t help but reflect on the relative stupidity of intending to drive this truck home today.”

We attacked the second attempt with better planning, parts, and tools. Oh, and we brought a friend along to drive the truck home. There was no gas cap on the truck, and since the filler tube pointed upward the fuel tank had undoubtedly ingested rain for 17 years. We diluted the water in the tank with fresh fuel, added water to the radiator (it didn’t run out of the block, which was a good sign), installed a charged battery, and used an old Vise-Grip in lieu of a missing battery cable clamp. We turned the ignition key and the engine turned over but wouldn’t start. “The sucker wouldn’t even cough once, let alone fire and run,” we noted. After fiddling with the distributor cap and points the engine still wouldn’t start. “This was getting somewhat embarrassing; the two of us had spent nearly 20 minutes on this simple Six, and we still hadn’t got it started. Granville must’ve been gyrating in his grave by now; he enjoyed this kind of fun even more than we do. He was just much better at it,” we wrote.

We tried bypassing the ballast resistor for the coil, hit the carb with starting fluid, turned the ignition key, began “frantic pumping of the accelerator,” and…it fired! We wrote that “it was one of the worst sounding engines we’d ever heard,” but it was running. “A suggestion was made that perhaps the 12,264 miles on the odometer was the sum of all miles on this truck, and maybe it wasn’t fully broken in yet.”

The end was anticlimactic. The truck was driven home and the drive was “quite uneventful,” we wrote. We also included a sidebar about how it’s not safe to drive an uninspected vehicle with unknown mechanical flaws home in the fashion we did. Good advice.

This story got us wondering: Have you purchased a non-running 4x4 and got it running? Maybe it was a barn find, driveway find, farm find, or whatever. If you’ve resurrected an old rig, drop an email to and tell us about it. If you have a photo, include that too. If we get enough of ’em we’ll put together a story highlighting your work!

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