Mike Burton needed a truck. He needed a way to tow his jet boata means of spending leisure time traversing the tranquil waters of various lakes in his native Northern California. In fact, Mike had spent much of life enjoying high- performance vehicles, from the strip-prepared Corvettes and Camaros to the off-road-ready CJ-5 and Blazer to the early Cougar street machines that had all occupied his garage over the years. Hed even tried his hand at the sport truck deal with an in-the-weeds 75 Chevy pickup.
But now he needed a tool, an appliance to transport his vessel to water. Since hed always liked older Chevy trucks, he began the search for one. After scouring up and down the California coast for three months and coming up empty-handed, a friend tipped him off to a 68 GMC shortbed that was less than a quarter of a mile from Mikes house. The trucks owner had lost interest in the project, but not before completely disassembling the Jimmy. After two trips with a car trailer, the pile of parts was in Mikes garage.
Although Burton hadnt intended a frame-off restoration for his boat hauler, he figured he might as well clean up the pieces before putting them back together. Eighteen months of nights and weekends later, every part and piece had been completely stripped, straightened, and either painted or plated. So now, all the friends who laughed at the bushel of bits Mike dragged home have the opportunity to marvel at the array of awards the Jimmywhich now wears 68 Chevy front sheetmetalhas garnered. Yes, the Fleetside spends lots of time at shows and has been declared too nice to use for hauling, though it gets driven nearly every weekend. Which leaves but one dilemma: Mike still needs a truck to tow his boat.
68 GMC Fleetside Pickup
Drivetrain: Mike began with an 85 two-piece rear-main seal 350 block and had it bored 0.030-inch over, filling it with Silv-o-lite hypereutectic flat-top pistons, creating a 10.0:1 compression ratio when combined with the Holley aluminum cylinder heads. Those heads are part of the Holley Systemax II engine package, which also includes an aluminum intake and a hydraulic cam (296/304-degrees duration and 0.473/ 0.488-inch lift). Hooker Super Comp headers feed into a custom 3-inch exhaust system using Flowmaster mufflers. A Turbo 400 with a TCI 2,800-rpm converter feeds power to the 68 Dana 44 rear, fitted with 3.55:1 gears.
Chassis: The original frame was blasted and painted before being fitted with the front crossmember, control arms, Belltech 3-inch dropped spindles, and disc brakes from a 74 Chevy C10. The rear of the frame is C-notched for axle clearance, necessitated by the ultra-low drop that results when the Air Ride Technologies airbags are completely deflated.
Wheels & Tires: American Racing Daisy spokes measure 15x8 and 15x10, front and rear respectively, and wear BFG radials in 265/50-R15s up front and 295/50-R15s out back.
Body: This may be the only area where Mike enlisted assistance with the project. Danny Cunningham frenched the power antenna, shaved the moldings and emblems, skinned the tailgate, and installed the remote fuel door, as well as helping Mike with the Chevy front clip and general body repair. Among the more subtle details are the late-model Jaguar headlights.
Paint: Mike laid down the 97 Prowler Yellow DuPont paint himself.
Interior: The upholstery is a mix of black leather and charcoal cloth. Andy & Me Upholstery stitched the headliner and door panels to match the Qualitex Manufacturing seats. Mike handled the gauge resto and the wiring, and also installed the stereo system and the fabricated the console that houses the Air Ride switches and gauges.