This is the first in a series of tech features on the '79 Chevy C-10 Big 10 that I recently put over 5,000 test miles on in less than two weeks' time while participating in Rod & Custom magazine's 2007 edition of Americruise celebrated in Lincoln, Nebraska. I know it's not the Americruise project truck CCT readers were expecting, so please allow me to explain the chain of events leading up to the last-minute substitution.
It all started to unravel when everything I was trying to accomplish on my '72 Ford F-100 in the final days before Americruise was turning out bad, to say the least. It's a long story that we'll expand on in an upcoming issue, but I can tell you it wasn't anything to do with the brand of parts I was using, but rather a serious mistake in my own judgment. No problem, because if there is one thing I have learned in my 40-plus years of customizing and preparing classic trucks to run hard coast to coast, it's that you have to know when to draw up a new plan if there's a chance of failure when the stakes are high. Although I have to tell you, I didn't have much time to do it. I had only owned the '79 C-10 for less than three weeks before it had to be ready in less than a month to make the journey. Since the Big 10 Chevy came to me with only 75,000 original miles on the clock, it was in what I was hoping to be good enough condition to stand a fighting chance, but there was definitely some major changes I wanted to make before it was ready to roll triumphantly into Lincoln.
First and foremost on the list of things to upgrade was the '79's original-equipment three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Since I like to run with the flow of traffic on our nation's interstate system, which is usually about 10 mph above the 75 mph speed limit posted in most of the states I would be passing through, even with 3.07:1 gears backing the three-speed T-hydro in the differential, the stock transmission wasn't going to make the grade.