Custom 1974 Chevy K10 Cheyenne Pickup with GM LQ9 and One-Ton Axles
A Square Body built for anything
If this square body 1974 K10 Chevy Cheyenne truck looks familiar to you, that is for good reason. It's been around, and more on that in a minute. The truck, owned by Matt Kime of Yucca Valley, California, has been building this truck through an evolutionary process of use/brake/upgrade/rinse and repeat for more than 15 years. The truck has changed as Matt's needs and interests have morphed over the years, and several parts and part combinations have been tested only to pass or fail. The current build is bound to change with the passing of time, but for now this 1974 has a honed edge for what Matt desires.
A Boy and His Chevy Cheyanne
The story starts with a telling of how Matt's father first got the truck. He'd done some horse trading for what was, at the time, a non-running 1974 K10 when the truck was fairly new. He then swapped in a 7.4L big-block Chevy in place of the original (and deceased) small-block to get it running. The truck was then used as the local Boy Scout camping truck, carrying all the goods to camp and home for Troop 76. Later the truck was parked and subsequently inherited by Matt's older brother after their father passed. Matt's brother revived the truck and got it running and four wheeling for a while. All was good until the big-block with a Quadrajet overpowered the smallish front ring-and-pinion and some steering box bolts sheered, leaving the truck stranded in a local canyon. With the truck broken Matt traded his brother a Willys Jeep for "Dad's truck." Matt's plan was to use the truck as a capable trash truck (apparently the Yucca Valley dump is notorious for patrons getting stuck). Somewhere in there Matt caught the off-road bug, and the evolution of Matt's trash truck began. Matt says at the time the truck was a shaft-spitting combination if he's ever seen one. Since then the truck was slowly built up, honing the parts combination until Matt and the truck participated in three Ultimate adventures, 2010 as an invited reader, 2011 as returning reader, and 2012 as the Bubba Rope Official Vehicle.
Custom Frame for a Chevy K10
In 2016 Matt decided to do a full rebuild on the truck, mainly forced by front driveline issues. The front driveline was short and literally ate front double Cardan joints in short order. Matt was spending more and more time playing in the sand with the truck in four-wheel drive. The plan was to move the engine, transmission, and T-case all rearward to add length to the font driveshaft while keeping the transfer case as high as possible. After chopping the body, it became apparent that building a whole new frame was probably going to be easier than modifying the truck's original frame. Matt built and designed the home-built frame to reposition the drivetrain. Matt also built the frame around a parallel front 4-link with a track bar and a double triangulated rear 4-link. Other bonuses built into the truck's new frame included a flat belly skidplate with about 23 inches of belly clearance and boat-sided rockers for use in those tight rock trails.
This Chevy Cheyenne's Current Drivetrain
With reliability in mind the formula Matt settled on for the K10's drivetrain is a tried and tested combination of parts. Power is derived from a 2005 LQ9 6.0L V-8 engine. The engine has been kept reliable with a mild tune and a set of Hooker headers. Just aft of the LQ9 is a Hughes Performance prepped TH400 with a reverse manual valve body Hughes torque converter and other internal upgrades. The GM slushbox is bolted to an Offroad Designs (ORD) Magnum underdrive and an ORD prepped GM NP205. The front driveline is now longer and incorporates a High Angle Driveline 42-degree BAMF 1450 series CV that has stood the test of time since the major overhaul in 2016. The front Dana 44 the truck once had was long ago dropped for a 1984 GM based kingpin Dana 60 with 4.88 gears and an ARB locker. Front axle shafts are chromoly with 35-spline outers and some old but reliable Yukon superjoints. Rear axle is a 1984 GM Corporate full-float 14-bolt with 4.88 gears, a Ballistic Fab shave kit, and a Nitro Gear spool.
Square Body Suspension for Speed in the Bumps
Matt's attraction to hitting the dunes in his truck is apparent. The suspension is pretty well dialed for a full-size square body Chevy. We went for a ride, and the suspension soaks up big whoops well. Sure, it's not a trophy truck, but it doesn't have trophy truck money in it, and it's road drivable. The truck's suspension has clearly been inspired by what our buddies at Offroad Design have done with a few of their GM-based projects. Namely, Matt's truck, like several of the ORD rigs, is built with solid axles and gearing to perform well in heavy-rock technical off-road trails, but with an upshift it can hit woops at a decent speed (we'd say fast!). Matt's truck does this with the aforementioned link suspension and King shocks that have proper spring rates and are properly valved to control the axles. Up front Matt's truck wears 14-inch travel King 2.5s and 2-inch 2.5 King bumpstops. Out back the truck has 16-inch travel King 2.5s and 4-inch 2.5 King bumps. Steering is simplified with a fully hydraulic system using a PSC XR series ram with a one-piece shaft.
Nitto Tires, Raceline Wheels, and More
Matt's intention for the truck is to have a drivable, capable rig that can take him just about anywhere he wants it to at the drop of a hat, be it across the desert, down the road, over dunes, or up a heavy rock trail. Nitto 40x13.50R17s on Raceline beadlocks allow for just about any terrain to be mastered. Matt is humble in his description of how he built the truck by building it, breaking it, rebuilding, and seeing what lasts and what doesn't. He's also happy to share what inspired his build and its many decisions. This is a great example of a homebuilt rig perfect for Ultimate Adventure or any adventure to be had just about anywhere.