Investigate the Aftermarket

I can guarantee you that there isn’t a vintage truck out there that isn’t going to need something replaced and that something will most likely come from the aftermarket industry. Unless you’ve got that truck that was stored in an airtight chamber for thirty years, chances are the rubber’s long dried out and the paint and chrome are starting to get that much-sought-after-these-days patina. With that said, it’s a good idea to investigate the aftermarket to find out what’s available for said truck. Sure, there are guys on eBay who sell NOS parts and the like, but the stuff is becoming more and more rare. So if you’re looking at buying a ’46 International, you might want to look into what’s available for those trucks, unless you want to be modifying every part. There’s a reason why the majority of truck’s we run are Chevys and Fords; they sold more, they lasted longer, and people liked them enough to keep them around. That’s not an opinion; it’s a simple fact. So then it makes sense that nearly every part on a ’67-’72 Chevy is being reproduced as opposed to the same era Dodges. Even though I think building a ’68 Dodge would be neat and totally different than the fleet of C10s I see at every truck show, it probably wouldn’t make much sense for the uninitiated to venture into building one as their first project. Not unless it was nearly 100 percent complete.

By having the support of an active aftermarket, all those missing parts on that project can be ordered up and replaced with ease instead of searching the swap meets and classified ads for months on end. Case in point, it took me nearly a year to find a replacement five-star door panel for my ’52 F-1. They’re out there, but they’re expensive, rare, and no one reproduces them. If every part were like that, I’d be an old man before the truck was finished. I still may be, but that’s a different story.

Set a Budget

Unless you’re sitting on a vast, untapped reserve of crude oil, you’ve probably only got so much to spend on that new project truck. Do yourself a favor and sit down with your banker (wife) and figure out just how much money and time you’re willing to invest in it. Be honest and calculate all the big items as realistically as possible. If you can’t paint, don’t calculate that part of the build at $2,000 unless you’ve got a really good friend with a paint booth or plan on doing it with a brush. Almost everything costs more than your initial figure, so it wouldn’t hurt to inflate your final estimate by 10 percent or so. Things like hoses, clamps, belts, fluids, and hardware add up fast so leave yourself some wiggle room. And don’t forget to budget your time in as well. If you’ve got six kids who all play in different soccer leagues during the week and travel for tournaments on the weekend, budget your project to reflect the time that you have to invest so that you don’t burn yourself out too quickly. In fact, if you’ve got that kind of lifestyle, just budget out yourself enough dough to buy a finished truck and save yourself the heartache.

Oh, and one more thing, make sure your investment is well worth it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across that $2,500 Chevette with a blown big-block for sale for $25,000. Just because you’ve got that much money invested in it, doesn’t mean it’s worth that.