Anyone could build this truck!
Imagine owning the ultimate 4x4. It would be able to handle any off-road trail in the world, drive from New York to Los Angeles in comfort, require almost no maintenance, and be something you could actually afford to build! If you're a regular reader of 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine you've seen us construct a Super Duty on 46-inch tires, an Avalanche with four-wheel steering, and a fully fabricated solid-axle Tacoma. All of those trucks were unique, all of them were capable ... but all of them would have required winning the lottery to build! So rather than try to outspend ourselves on this year's Ultimate Adventure truck, we decided to take it in a different direction. This year we're going to build a 4x4 that will be "Ultimate" in every way--except for the price. We can't promise this year's truck will be cheap, but we'll do everything we can to control costs. Any exotic hardware that can't earn its keep will get left on the parts counter.
For starters, we're going to save money by avoiding the car payment and begin with a truck that's 30 years old. We picked up this '75 Chevrolet K10 stepside for $1,500 from GM Truck Center in Burbank, California. We got it 'cause it's rust-free and smog exempt, but the truth is our buildup plans will work for any '73-'91 solid-axle GM truck, and with a little imagination you could adapt it to a '72-'93 Dodge, or even a '73-'79 Ford.
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Our secret to keeping costs down will be to save as much of the stock truck as we can. If there's a part on our K10 that works and does what we need, it stays. Rebuilding old components is usually cheaper than swapping in new assemblies anyway. When we use brand-new parts, we'll prove to you why it was the right thing to do. We can already guarantee this Chevy will run more used and rebuilt stuff than all the other Ultimate Adventure trucks combined.
Our initial testdrive told us the truck was pretty solid, but the engine is tired and the transmission fluid looked a little dark. The good news is that even though the truck has had quite a few owners, it hasn't been too butchered. We're a little concerned about why the dash was half torn apart, where the front driveshaft went, and what kind of front-end damage caused the grille to disappear--but we'll get over it. We don't care what shape stuff like the axles and suspension are in because we know they're getting replaced with heavy-duty parts. For the same reason we're not too concerned by the windshield tag that says, "Next oil change in 3,000 miles or by 3/22/97."
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In this installment we'll let you in on some of our plans for our Ultimate K10. In Part II the guys at GM Truck Center are going to strip the truck down and prep it for a new Tuff Country suspension. We're going to keep the Chevy riding on the proven leaf-sprung suspension, but they'll be a few twists that will make it worth reading about. And we promise, it'll all be stuff that you can afford to do too.