For example, one of the methods we employed to substantially lower the noise level in the C-10 was to install a Quiet-Ride kit with a damper-absorber reflective barrier, which in turn lowered the cab's ambient temperature. We can attribute these results directly to the Quiet-Ride kit because it was the only floor covering installed during the C-10's Americruise configuration.

Another key player in our battle against air- and structure-borne noise was a Magnaflow high-flow catalytic converter and muffler. The constant drone of a poorly designed exhaust system while driving cross-country can leave a person with an unbelievable headache. Our Magnaflow system's throaty exhaust note garnered several unsolicited compliments from fellow Americruisers while providing us a pleasant drone-free environment within the truck. Beyond noise cancellation, a catalytic converter and muffler provide emissions control along with increased performance. Our next stop after the Muffler Man installed our Magnaflow system was straight to a California Test-Only smog center, where the '79 Chevy C-10 breezed through California's stringent emissions requirements without missing a beat.

Installing a Gear Star 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission controlled by a Compushift computer wasn't inspired by our quest to quiet down the '79. However, used in combination with the Chevy's original equipment 3.07:1 rearend gears, the stock 350-inch LS9 truck motor was turning only 2,050 rpm at 80 mph. Needless to say, not only was the LS9 running a lot quieter at the lower revs, but the 2,000-rpm range turned out to be the engine's sweet spot for obtaining the best fuel mileage.

Besides utilizing what little time we had to maximize the C-10's high-speed cruising ability, next on our list of two major items to upgrade was the C-10's Big 10 F-44 suspension package. For those of you unfamiliar with a Big 10, the F-44 chassis is basically a 3/4-ton frame (short or longbed) with super-stiff heavy-duty leaf and coil springs attached. In keeping with our desire to seek out the latest technology available for a late-series C-10, or better yet stumble onto some neat things that weren't on the market yet, we turned to the suspension gurus at Classic Performance Products in Anaheim, California. Sure enough, when we inquired about what was coming down the pike, we struck gold. The CPP guys were gearing up to introduce a rear trailing arm setup for '73-87 C-10s based on their line for '63-72 trucks. When we offered to hand over 5,000 hard test miles in less than two weeks, CPP's R&D manager Jeff Wise and Development Engineer Danny Nix accelerated the program to provide us with a prototype. There is a good chance that by the time this issue hits the newsstand, CPP's '73-87 trailing arm suspension kit will be available to the public. To inquire, call CPP's Trailing-Arm Hotline at 800-830-0952. Up front, we used CPP 2 1/2-inch drop spindles and replaced the heavy-duty F-44 coil springs with stock-length CPP standard coil springs. To complement the CPP tubular control arm setup and help reduce body roll, we installed a CPP front sway bar.