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Two-Tone 1974 Chevrolet C20 Works As Good As It Looks

Posted in Features on February 27, 2019
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Living in Placerville, California, in the shadow of the famous Rubicon Trail, Wyatt Barry has abundant opportunities to wheel all year long. That includes multiday trips and plenty of snow wheeling, so Wyatt’s vehicle of choice has always been fullsize Chevys. And not shortbed trucks, but longbeds with plenty of wheelbase to climb tall obstacles and bed space for all his cargo.

All that wheeling took its toll on his last truck though, which ended up with a seized 400ci engine and a crushed cab after five years of heavy wheeling. Wyatt tossed the cab, bought a clean 2WD truck, and got to work combining the two in his barn with help from Hank Collins and Dan Dammen using the lessons he had learned along the way.

The bored 455 Oldsmobile V-8 came from Dave Phillips and makes a ton of torque. After cracking the tailhousing in half on the Rubicon in the snow, Wyatt built three mounting points for the current TH350 and four-speed Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case. The unconventional drivetrain continues with a 14-bolt front axle built with Dana 50 outers. “They are the same size knuckles that Dana 60s use but they are cheap,” says Wyatt.

The previous 47-inch tires were replaced by 41.5-inch Pit Bull Rockers on 20-inch TrailReady HD beadlock wheels. The tires fit with only a 4-inch lift thanks to heavy fender trimming that involved removing the inner fenders in the front and raising the rear fender tubs in the bed by unbolting them from the bottom and setting them on top of the bed. The two-tone paint is original and looks great, although given how frequently Wyatt wheels we don’t expect it to stay that way forever.

The Oldsmobile V-8 was a hand-me-down from Wyatt Barry’s good friend Dave Phillips, who had it sitting on an engine stand in his garage for the past 20 years. The Olds engine was punched 0.060 over and now displaces 469 ci. Olds big-blocks weigh significantly less than a big-block Chevy, and this one has a mild cam and factory iron “E” casting heads with an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold. The E heads are standard big-block heads for 1968-1970 455s and have small runners and valves but create a ton of intake velocity for low-end torque on the trail.
With a longbed truck, space is not necessarily an issue. Wyatt mounted the 30-gallon Suburban fuel tank in the bed to keep it from getting smashed up. The diamond-plate boxes hold tools, spare parts, batteries, and even keeps the transmission cooler out of harm’s way.
The front suspension consists of Rancho 4-inch lift springs that have the center pin redrilled to move the front axle forward 3 inches. In our experience springs tend to snap at the old center pin. Wyatt plans to swap them out for 52-inch Chevy springs or even link the front end if funds allow. Fox air bumps and Fox 12-inch-travel remote-reservoir shocks soak up the bumps.
Dana 60 front axles are expensive, so Wyatt got creative. He started with a rear 14-bolt housing and retubed it to use ball joint knuckles from an inexpensive Dana 50, since they are the same size as Dana 60 outers. A Yukon spool and 5.38 gears route power to Dutchman chromoly axleshafts and Spicer U-joints.
Wyatt swapped out the 1/2-ton leaf springs for 63-inch-long, 3/4-ton Chevy leaf springs to account for the weight of the truck. A custom traction bar that uses a slip yoke instead of a shackle eliminates axlewrap, and the 12-inch-travel Fox remote-reservoir shocks smooth out the ride.
Corporate 14-bolt rear axles are fairly common, and for good reason. They use a huge 10 1/2-inch ring gear and 1 1/2-inch diameter axleshafts, and have a third pinion bearing to resist gear deflection. All Wyatt needed to add was a set of 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker under the RuffStuff Specialties 3/8-inch-thick differential cover.
We normally don’t like 20-inch-diameter wheels, but the 41.5-inch-tall Pit Bull Rockers provide enough sidewall that the 20x9.5 TrailReady HD beadlocks don’t look out of place.

Tech Specs

1974 Chevrolet C20
>Drivetrain
Engine: 469 ci Oldsmobile V-8
Transmission: TH350 3-speed automatic
Transfer Case: 4-speed Advance Adapters Atlas II
Front Axle: 14-bolt with Dana 50 knuckles, Dutchman axleshafts, Yukon 5.38 gears, and Yukon spool
Rear Axle: Corporate 14-bolt with Yukon 5.38 gears and Detroit Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Rancho 4-inch lift springs and Fox remote-reservoir shocks (front); 63-inch Chevy leaf springs and Fox remote-reservoir shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 41.5x13.50-20 Pit Bull Rocker on 20x9.5 TrailReady HD beadlock
Steering: Howe steering box, PSC hydraulic assist ram, modified factory GM steering pump
Lighting: $60 Amazon LED headlights
Other Stuff: Custom front bumper, Smittybilt X20 17,500 winch, Factor 55 UltraHook, Rockhound Off Road rock sliders, York air compressor, 30-gallon Suburban fuel tank, Cadillac Escalade seats, Flowmaster mufflers

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