The enjoyment of owning any custom classic truck intensifies greatly with the addition of each new improvement. There is almost nothing more fun than outperforming some poor unsuspecting soul in his brand-new high-performance whatever-he's-driving with an old pickup. By outperform we mean not only straight-line acceleration, but outhandling and outbraking as well.
Even if you're not inclined to blow the doors off of something, these characteristics are essential to helping your irreplaceable old truck survive on today's idiot-packed mean streets. When the subject is narrowed down to Tri-Five GMC and Chevrolet trucks (which actually could be called Five-Five trucks, since '58 and '59s are virtually mechanically and cosmetically identical to the Tri-Fives), there is an infinite number of high-performance and safety options available.
Almost without exception, the first major change any custom Tri-Five owner goes for is to plug in more horsepower. It's only a matter of time before the trusty ol' stovebolt six-banger is tossed in favor of a small-block V-8. It's really hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't get an ear-to-ear smile the first time they hit the loud pedal-so why stop when you're having fun? Well, if you don't want to end up with your truck appearing as a hood ornament on a Buick, you're going to have to be able to swerve around or stop in time before you plow into the beast.
To be able to handle both skills means faster steering with better brakes. The best solution entails swapping out the Tri-Five's drum brake recirculating ball steering and straight-axle frontend with an IFS featuring disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering. For the majority of Tri-Fives on the road today, a V-8 conversion with an IFS frontend swap is as far as most guys go. The truth of the matter is they are only two-thirds of the way home.
Even with a stock Chevy 6, the Tri-Five's half-elliptical rear leaf-spring suspension is pretty much maxed out, optioned with a 265 or 283-inch motor, and one is guaranteed wheel hop or axle tramp.