As opposed to hauling home a project truck that is a long way from running, the beauty of buying an operating truck is that even if it's a little rough around the edges, you can enjoy it right away. In the case of the '79 Chevy Big 10 we threw together for Americruise, there were no two ways about it: we just got lucky. By lucky, we mean there were a lot of things that could have broken or gone wrong, but the old girl made it over 5,000 miles without missing a beat. Since the Big 10 ran Americruise, we have logged another 5,000 miles on the clock, but we have had to replace a few electrical components in addition to some cosmetic improvements we elected to do. Of course, the fun part is the cosmetic stuff, so we'll talk about that first, and then address the mechanical matters that apply to any late C-10 Chevrolet ever made.
One of the neat things about trucks built in the '70s is that you can still order your new truck one option at a time instead of the option packages forced onto new truck buyers today. Just about the first thing we do when we tear into an old Chevy truck is pull the seat out and flip it over to see if the buildsheet (broadcast) is still underneath it. Even without the buildsheet, it was obvious our Big 10 had its share of desirable high-end options juxtaposed with an array of option-deletes that created an interesting sparseness to the Big 10's look. Enfrente, as our buddies south of the border say; with its base-model white-painted front bumper, the Big 10 looked about as plain Jane as a truck can get. Not quite so bad was the Big 10's stock Argent Gray C-10 grille, complete with a Bow Tie in the center, but it had some room for improvement as well. Although the base-model grille and bumper are not all that pleasing to look at, at least they can't cause harm to the truck like the mirrors it was equipped with. We call them "door-killers"-they are the number-one reason why it is next to impossible to find a '73-87 C-10 with a good pair of doors.
To handle the improvements we wanted to make to the Big 10, we fired her up and drove down to Classic Industries in Huntington Beach, California, where we were in for a pleasant surprise. Not only did Classic Industries stock the more desirable-appearing dual chrome mirrors available for late C-10s, but the ones they carry are genuine GM items still in the GM factory wrapping. All that was required to mount them was to buy the original GM mounting plate that Classic Industries stocks and bolt them onto the existing factory holes. There is a black rubber base gasket that normally goes on the mirrors, but we liked how the mirrors looked better without them. With the "door-killer" problem solved, we moved on to the next items on our Classic Industries shopping list, installing a triple-plated chrome replacement front bumper and silver aftermarket replacement grille with the Bow Tie emblem shaved.
When your favorite color is...
When your favorite color is chrome, the only answer is to dump the plain Jane white base-model bumper for a triple-plated beauty from Classic Industries of Huntington Beach, CA. Ditto for the stock Argent Gray grille with a Classic Industries metallic silver grille with the Bow Tie shaved.
A 3/8-inch air impact wrench...
A 3/8-inch air impact wrench made short work of removing the stock mounting nuts attached to the unpolished stainless steel carriage bolts visible on the bumper's face.