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1985 Chevy K30

Front Driver Side
Scott Killeen | Photographer
Posted July 8, 2003

Mr. Sand Man: This Thundering Chevy's No Sleeper

You're most likely to find cover boy Harley Padilla and his '85 Chevy K30 rompin' through the mud and hills in California--and that's during business hours. Yep, his job requires him to 'wheel at work. That's rough. When he's not doing the nine-to-five grind, you'll find him on sand, trails, and anywhere else he can squeeze this 1-ton into--which has been everywhere so far.

And you'll know when he's in your neck of the woods or streets. The Chevy is named Blue Thunder for its blue skin, rumbling big-block, and thundering whir of those 35-inch Boggers--this truck makes an entrance!

Harley and his dad build musclecars, and he was looking for a tow vehicle to pull all the projects. When he found this one it was definitely a sparkler in the rough. Harley did most of the buildup himself, but he says (as we all do about our own haulers) the best is yet to come.


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  • Harley says he loves the look of his Chevy, especially from the front--and why not? It features a '90 GMC Suburban grille, a prerunner bumper with built-in Explorer ProComp lights, window tint, and a fetching PPG Metallic Poly Blue paint job from R.W. Auto Body.

  • Other groovy body mods are power mirrors, also donated by a Sub', cab lights from a 1-ton dualie, Weld wheels, and a Weathergard toolbox with a Hi-Lift bolted to it inside the longbed. Harley removed the tailgate so he could "see small import cars."

  • The Bow-Tie gets its grunt from the stock four-barrel 454 V-8--with 150,000 faithful miles. To help it age gracefully, Harley Padilla of Burbank, California, added an Edelbrock carb and MSD ignition, and Morse Mufflers installed the Doug Thorley smog-legal headers and Flowmaster 21/2-inch dual exhaust. The TH400 tranny and NP205 transfer case are also stock.

  • suspension is comprised of an Explorer ProComp 6-inch lift and Superlift 4-inch blocks at the rear. Harley says the truck is actually lifted 6.4 inches, with the extra nudge from longer shackles at the rear of the front springs. A Dana 60 rides up front and there's a 14-bolt in the rear, both with 4.56s and polished diff covers. There's a Detroit Locker in back and Rancho RS 9000 adjustable shocks. Other chassis work included a crossover steering conversion from Off-Road Unlimited, removal of the front sway bar for better movement on rocks, and skidplates fabricated by Harley and Tim Morse of Morse Muffler.

  • Inside, Harley added Deist five-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher, and a Cobra CB. Next on the safety to-do list is a Smittybilt rollcage. Interior buffs (and who isn't?) will remember that the '85 K30 wasn't available with a light-gray interior, so a Suburban was ransacked for the cloth. Andy's Auto Upholstery also added late-model GM panels, armrests, and the dash itself. After sprinkling billet all around, Harley bolted on a LeCarra polished steering wheel, an Auto Meter Monster tach, and a Pioneer/MTX sound system.