Ever take on a project that is a great idea but a headache beyond imagination once you are in the midst of it? That happened to me recently when I decided to try my hand at transforming the interior of my Red Sled project '91 Chevy extra cab. When I got this truck it had been sitting outside with a busted window for over a year so the interior was far from perfect. I don't usually mind driving a ratty old truck, so I lived with it for a few years. But then one day I rode in a friend's '95 Chevy, and really liked his modern, curvaceous, clean interior. He had the same body-style truck, but the interior was entirely more modern, so I wondered how hard it would be to update the Sled from the dated early '88-'94 interior to the more appealing '95-'98 style. I asked around and most folks thought it was a good idea, but few had actually done the swap. Then I called a few interior shops and though they agreed it was an interesting idea, none were available to help do the swap in my time frame. I finally surfed the Internet and found a whole bunch of guys that claimed they had done the swap easily in a weekend. I was soon reminded that what's on the Web isn't always true. So I figured I'd do it myself. How hard could it be? I can weld, I can wrench, I can even change tires, so there was no reason I shouldn't be able to tear out some seats, carpet, headliner, and a dash and then replace it all with new stuff. Boy, was I wrong.
Let me state for the record that this conversion in no way increased the off-road ability of my truck, and I should have learned right then and there that doing it was going to be a nightmare. You see if I had simply refurbished the stock dash I'd be driving my truck by now, but I had to get this hair-brained idea that I would swap in a dash that might or (most likely) might not work, and now I have a giant dead truck in my shop that is languishing like a beached whale, and it is nobody's fault but my own. In fact, many of the parts I used worked out great; unfortunately not all the parts I need are available through the aftermarket, and so I'm still looking for more junkyard-fresh parts to finish it. Will it eventually run again? Watch our Web site, www.4wheeloffroad.com, to find out, but here are the major steps to interior redesign on a truck I should have taken to a pro.
Here's how this all started: The interior of the Red Sled had sat with a busted window for over a year, thus the old bench seat had some funky stains, the dash was cracked, and there was no stereo. Plus I really hated the original square dash and late-'80s-style gauges. The headliner was also dropping on my head, the seat controls were busted, and the carpet smelled funny. Pretty normal for any of my personal trucks, but after I rode in a friend's newer version, I decided an interior swap was in the cards for the Sled. I had seen the '95-and-newer curved modern-style dash and since the body style had stayed the same from '88 to '98, I assumed the dash would drop right in.