Here's a truck that has been on the back burner for a couple of years, but now it's time to rock 'n roll. For those of you that just tuned in, this mangy looking '66 Chevy shortbed Fleetside came to us with only 80-something thousand original miles and really is in a lot better shape that one might think. According to the buildsheet we were lucky enough to discover was still under the seat, the truck was ordered new by a Chevy dealer in Riverside, California, and built at the San Jose plant. From there the truck spent its entire life up on the high desert wallowing in adobe mud, and hitting chuckholes where there's not a lot of paved roads. To the casual observer the undercarriage looks like it's never been touched, but to the contrary we've steam cleaned it numerous times and the adobe clay famous for use in constructing California's missions sticks better than Portland cement. That said, the only way this truck is ever going to be in show condition is if it's completely disassembled, sandblasted, painted, and put back together.
Okay now that we established the '66 is always going to be no more than just a good old truck, as far as looks go we'll move on and discuss the things we have begun to do to it to greatly improve its mechanical performance. Starting with the front suspension we ditched the original Chevy drum brakes, and opted for a set of later model Chevy heavy-duty F44 disc brakes with 1 1/4-inch thick rotors from Early Classic Enterprises. In fact, all of the upgrades were sourced from Early Classic in kit form. Sometimes a big red flag goes up when we one sees the words "kit" but we are glad to report the boys at Early Classic really did their homework, and Kevin and Steve at KA Custom were really impressed with the suspension kit's completeness and how well everything fit. The beauty of using original equipment Chevrolet brakes, and components means a person can easily find replacement parts anywhere, and compatibility has been engineered in at the factory. The swap from drum to disc brakes kills two birds with one stone by updating the original 6-lug bolt pattern to a 5-lug pattern. This means instead of having a limited selection of 6-lug wheel designs a person now has a 5-on-5 pattern, which is the most available wheel design around. Along with adding disc brakes we were after better handling for the '66. To drop the truck's center of gravity and give it a badass stance we had KA Custom install Early Classic's 2 1/2-inch drop spindles. To add to the handling package KA Custom also installed Early Classic's super heavy-duty front sway bar and the KYB gas shock absorbers Early Classic sells with the kit. Also a component of Early Classic's handling and brake package is a dual master cylinder with a power booster to replace the stock Chevrolet single master cylinder without power assist.
In next month's edition of Custom Classic Trucks we'll cover KA Custom's installation of Early Classic's rear brake upgrade kit, which includes an improved Panhard bar, bigger drum brakes, axles to convert from 6 to 5-lug. In the meantime, please enjoy our coverage of KA Custom's install of Early Classic's front suspension kit, and we hope some of the installation tips we are sharing will help to simplify your experience.