If your son or daughter was swiftly approaching the legal driving age, what sort of vehicle do you think would suit them best? That's the dilemma CCT's publisher faced recently. In this particular case, his son had just turned 15. Having been raised around world-class street rods, off-roading, and NHRA Championship Drag Racing, he has been a gearhead for almost all 15 years.

Now, Dad has owned just about every type of Chevy (or GMC) light truck imaginable, sporting each style of cab configuration. His choice for everyday transportation is a late-model Chevy extended-cab, though he also owns a crew-cab setup for serious towing, as well as a Suburban. The options for "Junior's first ride" were numerous. Early musclecars were considered, as were some late-model varieties, then the whole picture became clearer by the day. Every consideration came under scrutiny-overall vehicle safety, initial cost, practicality, ease of maintenance, the all-important cool factor, and the price of yearly insurance premiums.

Browsing the used-vehicle market, the wise choice turned out to be this '79 Chevy 10-Series pickup, and here's why. The initial cost was $2,500. In Southern California, that's not a bad price for a reasonably clean truck with lots of potential. From the crash-worthy perspective, understand the size of this truck, the fact that it's got a complete chassis (as opposed to today's unibody cars), and realize it'll only cost $1,200 per year to insure with a young driver in the seat. These are all valid concerns. Here, the family in question is not about to cut corners or make any compromises whatsoever in its quest to put this kid in traffic. He's already earned the privilege to drive, and he fully understands (and appreciates) why his folks are totally committed to making the right decisions on his behalf.

Timing had a lot to do with this purchase-Dad wanted to make darn sure there was no rush to freshen it up, and plenty of lead time to ensure all systems were completely road ready. Having been through a few owners, first on the list was returning it to California smog-legal status. Next, a complete suspension and brake rebuild was sorely needed. After all, a neglected front suspension results in lots of play in the steering wheel, coupled with unnecessary tire wear, and general driveability problems. This thing had to drive (and feel) like a new truck. Again, we stress the importance of timing. Don't wait until the last minute and wind up putting your kid in a vehicle that's not 110-percent road worthy. There's just too much at stake. While the anticipation may drive him crazy, he'll come to appreciate why you took such a methodical approach.

Performance Suspension Technology (Pst)Parts ListOriginal performance frontend rebuild kitG-Max sway bars, front and rearG-Max 13-inch rotor upgradeAlu-Max calipersHigh-performance brake padsSpindlesBraided stainless brake hoses2 1/2-inch dropped front coils4-inch lowered leaf springsRear disc brake conversion kit (with 11 1/4-inch rotors)

Performance Suspension Technology
Nitto Tires
6261 Katella Ave., Dept. MMFF
Suite 2C
CA  90630
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