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A Junkyard Monster Truck?

Darn-Near Free Chevy Truck

Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

I have noticed that if you can’t learn, admit your mistakes, make changes for the better, and work to be a better person, you might as well be dead. I’ve always been obsessed with 4x4s, and have been playing with them for decades. I have made and will continue to make mistakes with them. I bought the wrong 4x4(s) in the past and may again, but one thing I am finally realizing at the ripe old age of 42 is that I like beaters. Just about anything that is rough and worn plumb out can be made better, more reliable, and more capable. The best part is you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen, scratched, or dented.

To that end, when I noticed for the eleventeenth time that my pal Mike had an old 1997 Chevy 3500 HD Crew Cab 2WD sitting idle on his property, I finally asked about it. Mike had acquired the old work truck when a friend sold off the assets of a company. The truck wasn’t worth much then because it didn’t run, and still doesn’t, and therefore still isn’t worth much.

But believe it or not it has good bones for a magazine project. For one, it’s cheap. Like you might even get paid to tow off a truck like this. It needs work; think about all the stories that could be written about it. It has a fuel-injected big-block 454. No one (including Mike) is gonna be upset if I cut it up and make it into something rad—or fail miserably (I don’t plan on it though).

So what is the plan? Well, I have a set of 2 1/2-ton Rockwell axles sitting here that Editor Hazel gave me. Add in ginormous tires, lifted leaf springs (the truck is solid axle front and rear), and a divorced transfer case; ditch the bed; hack the front fenders; shorten the frame; and add some fab time. This could be fun … and hopefully not too expensive. What if we build a do-it-all inexpensive junkyard monster truck?