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1977 Chevy Silverado Built Tall and Powerful for Mud and Show

Charlie Melchner wanted to build a “real truck” and we’d say he succeeded with this heavy-duty machine.

Charlie Melchner found his 1977 Chevy Silverado locally in his neck of New York and ended up falling in love with the truck. The first step on the journey for Charlie's 1977 Chevy Silverado was wide rolling rubber—a set of 46x23-16 Firestone Turf and Field tires mounted to 20x16 custom-built chromed steel wheels. The wheels and tires sat at the ends of the truck's stock 1-ton axles which also kept their 4.11 gears and limited-slips. Charlie trussed the axles to keep them from folding in on themselves, and the front axle was cut and turned 10 degrees upward to alleviate extreme driveline angles. To make sure there was big strength to support the big rubber, the Silverado's frame was stripped, repainted black, patched in the few places that needed help, and reinforced with crossbraces above the rear axle and underneath the radiator. Danbury Spring, in Danbury, Connecticut, re-arched his leaf springs affording him 18 inches of lift, which was supplemented by a Rugged Trail 3-inch traction lift in the front and a combination of a helper leaf and 4-inch axle blocks in the rear. Each corner also received a pair of Rugged Trail shocks, and Charlie hand-built (and chromed) a rear ladder bar to ward off wheel hop.

Silverado Power

Power came from the truck's 400 c.i.d. small-block V-8, which was bored 0.030 inches over stock and given a Crane hydraulic camshaft, milled heads, TRW 10:1 pistons, dual remote oil filters, a heavy-duty alternator, a Holley 850 double-pump carburetor, and Street Dominator intake manifold. Behind the engine was a Turbo 350 automatic transmission and the NP203 transfer case. The driveshafts were chromed and built a bit longer than stock to accommodate the truck's taller suspension.

Decking Out the Interior and Exterior of the Chevy

With an ironclad powertrain on his 1977 Chevy Silverado, Charlie shifted his attention to the exterior, which was sanded down to bare metal and coated with Deltron Chocolate Brown Metalflake enamel, given touches of pinstriping, and emblazoned with the rig's nickname, "Sky High." Rounding out the list of exterior modifications were Porsche side mirrors, heavy-duty steel bumpers, an 8,000-pound Warn winch in the front, a dozen KC lights, Bushwacker fender flares, and an Eagle Cab camper shell paint-matched with the rest of the truck. The interior was graced with a LeCerra wooden steering wheel, tan velour headliner, Kenwood stereo, Superkicker tweeters, and Kenwood 6x9 loudspeakers.

Where Is It Now?

Since appearing in Four Wheeler, we learned Sky High, the 1977 Chevy Silverado, was tracked down and purchased from Charlie by a German truck enthusiast and brought across the ocean to its new home. Meanwhile, Charlie is still building and driving 4x4s and has even inspired his younger son to take part in the lifestyle, piloting his rig over and through off-road obstacles.

If you have a rig from the past that you're proud of or a story of how you inspired the next generation of off-road fans, let us know by sending the story and a high-res image to editor@fourwheeler.com!

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