We love old cars and the way they sound and look. They’re cool; and there are no bones about that.
However, they’re not the first word in reliability or driving dynamics; two things vital to a vehicle used for workshop duties. This is why we’re looking to the modern day for the powerplant in our ’55 Chevy pick-up shop truck.
A crashed 2002 VX SS Commodore donated its engine, computer and transmission to the Chevy, while the fuel tank down the back is from a matching-year SS ute. This gives us a smooth, reliable 300hp 5.7-litre aluminium V8 that we can trick up with just a few small mods to make the right noises and put out enough grunt to haul whatever we need to tow.
Because the pick-up is sitting on a ’55 Chev passenger car frame we picked up a Speedway Motors kit to mount engine and trans; it was simply too easy to get the kit rather than spending hours making our own unique set-up for a workshop vehicle. We’ll modify the cab slightly to fit around the LS1 engine as, while it is painfully close, GM never intended for the full-size pick-up to sit on a sedan chassis.
The transmission tunnel has also been removed from the cab to clear the beefy Tremec T56 six-speed manual gearbox. An auto could have easily done the job, but the manual lends the truck a little muscle car flavour, plus we’re not scared to row our own gears!
The one thing that really lets our LS motor down is appearance. In fact, we reckon it’s verging on being called ugly compared to an era-correct motor. So, to remedy this we’ll be retrofying the Gen III small block and will bring that to you in coming months.
We’ll give you the skinny on the diff and rear-end in a fortnight. ‘Til then, see you on the road.