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Crafting a Family Dream: A Custom 1962 Ford Galaxie

Kodie’s 6L Powered ’62 Ford Galaxie Country Squire

Investing time and money on building a custom vehicle can be somewhat of a slippery slope. Depending on the vehicle and its condition, that investment can be doomed from the start—financially speaking, anyway. Practicality also comes into play as a make or break factor at the end of the day. As long as there is a good time and sense of accomplishment at the center of the project, however, there can still be a great deal of success to be had with it. There is a balance to be met, and that balance is different for each and every one of us—especially if family life can benefit greatly from putting together a custom tailored ride.

Recently, we were lucky enough to catch up with Kodie Paxton, and her husband William “BJ” Boden from Temperance, Michigan. Both are definitely not newcomers to custom automotive culture, as they own and operate their own shop called Acme Gas and Oil. BJ has been in the scene a long time now, and he has a couple absolute killer builds (both Fords) to his credit. One is a slammed and show-worthy ’84 Bronco II that is hard to forget once you’ve seen it. The other is also low, a cool-as-hell ’85 Ranger that also boasts custom paint, a full interior and a whole lot more.

While both of BJ’s previous builds share a similar mid-1980’s vintage along with heavy street truck styling cues, there is one glaring difference that sets them starkly apart—the Cummins 4BT turbo-powered engine underneath the Ranger’s hood. While the Bronco’s 1949 Ford Flathead V8 is an amazing piece of machinery in its own right, the Ranger’s power plant does pique our interest a tad bit more. This does happen to be a diesel-centric publication, after all.

Another similarity the Bronco and Ranger share is Kodie’s love for both of them. When the time came for the two to take on yet another project vehicle, they placed their growing family at the heart of the build and found something that they can all enjoy and fit inside comfortably at the same time. The vehicle they chose is a step away from their previous two, but it’s just as cool. BJ picked up a 1962 Ford Galaxie Country Squire wagon as a surprise for Kodie, and boy, she was surprised to see it for the first time parked in their shop. The plan was to give the car the full treatment, which included running with another truly stellar engine specimen, which has become somewhat of a requirement for any of BJ’s builds.

With some help from Kill Devil Diesel (KDD)  in Poplar Branch, North Carolina, BJ was able to lock down a 2006 6.0L Ford Powerstroke that was fully loaded with KDD’s own machine work and components. A ton of other performance parts, including two very special additions, were also added to the lineup.

Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Kodie and BJ wanted to make sure that we get one thing clear. The two Borg Warner turbochargers featured on the Powerstroke are in fact a compound turbo setup and not a twin turbo configuration. The difference is notable, as the first turbo in line feeds the other with boosted air in a compound layout instead of the two turbos operating independently in a twin scenario. Mistaking the two, or just assuming that two turbochargers naturally translates to twin turbos is an honest oversight for those not in tune with it all, but a little bit of explanation does go a long way.

A fully built 1997 Dodge NV4500 transmission from SuperStick was ordered and put into place to take full advantage of the 900hp at the rear wheels as well as the 1700 ft-lbs of torque that the Powerstroke produces. That substantial amount of power would soon be a blast to experience once the rest of the wagon project evolved.

The next phase of the build would be one of the most transformative for the Country Squire. With the expertise that BJ has with custom chassis systems, a full one-off frame was put together for the wagon using 2×3 and 2×4 square tubing throughout. Since BJ’s forte with severely lowered suspension setups is well proven and documented in his previous builds, he was fully motivated to follow suit with this project. A combination of Air Lift air bags, a 3H air management system, and dual Viair 444C compressors were plumbed to create a fully adjustable ride height. QA1 adjustable shocks have been put into place to promote ideal ride quality, and a hand-built IRS system was created to round off the custom chassis highlights. It’s a shame that this chassis is hidden underneath the car, because it really is a work of purpose-built automotive art.

To set off the wagon’s newfound low-slung chassis just right, Kodie and BJ selected a one-off set of 20×9 and 20×11 Detroit Steel Ambassador wheels that were wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 performance rubber. To bring the car to a controlled halt, PowerStop front and Wilwood rear braking components were bolted up and finished off with steel braided lines.

Natural patina is a sacred thing among the classic vehicle crowd. It’s almost like embracing the ‘wisdom’ that gray hair brings. When the wagon found its way to Kodie and BJ, it had quite a bit of rust along the top portions of the doors and the entire hood that they weren’t interested in painting over. These worn portions were encapsulated in layers of clear coat to preserve the patina look while ensuring it doesn’t turn into any real damage to the metal down the road.

Custom paint was still as important in this build as saving the patina was, so Detroit Chris “The Mad Professor,” Mike Kluczynski, and James Rivers helped out by applying the custom candy paint that BJ mixed to the roof and along both sides of the car. Shannon Best at Best Built Customs applied airbrushed wood grain graphics to the sides, and Todd Hanson at Hanson Graphix then stepped in to pinstripe the hell out of the wagon to add some old school flavor.

Don Steinman joined the project by fabricating a custom floor pan in order to lay down wood flooring inside of the wagon—definitely a cool alternative to rolling out replacement carpet. Pete’s Auto Upholstery and Trim in Taylor, MI reupholstered a set of 2006 Lincoln MKZ bucket seats, along with a factory rear bench, center console and door panels too. The dash was painted and pinstriped to match the wagon’s exterior, a fresh set of Dakota Digital gauges were wired in, and a Mooneyes steering wheel was mounted to fully upgrade the entire command center.

Kodie and BJ started ripping into the wagon at the start of 2019 and finished it up at the tail end of 2021—not bad considering the struggle of getting parts in hand during this prime time portion of the pandemic lockdown. Every penny and minute spent whipping the car into shape has been well worth the effort, since the Galaxie is now a means for creating unforgettable memories together with their children. A wagon by nature has always been thought of as a vessel for promoting wholesome family values since their release decades ago. This is what motivated BJ to grab one for his wife and kids, but of course he couldn’t imagine doing it any differently than how it came out.


1962 Ford Galaxie Country Squire Wagon

Owner

Kodie Paxton
Temperance, MI

Engine & Drivetrain

  • Shop: Kill Devil Diesel, Poplar Branch, NC
  • 2006 6.0L Ford Powerstroke 8-cyl
  • Custom motor mounts
  • Carrillo rods
  • Billet oil pump
  • Modified stock oil pan
  • Kill Devil Diesel Stage 3 camshaft, pistons and pushrods
  • Griffin radiator and cooling fans
  • 140-amp alternator
  • Aluminum cylinder heads
  • Jesel lifters and adjustable rockers
  • Custom ODAWGS Diesel S3R intake manifold
  • Mishimoto intercooler
  • Borg Warner SX-E 364/73 .83 turbocharger compounded w/ SX-E480/96 1.3
  • Smoothed comp and exhaust housings
  • 69 psi boost
  • FASS 220 lift pump
  • RCD Performance Thumper II injection pump
  • WDI 8mm hybrid injectors
  • SCT X4 programmer tuned by Blessed Performance, Gillette, WY
  • BD Power exhaust manifolds
  • 5-inch exhaust diameter hand pressed to oval
  • Straight pipe, side exit
  • 1997 NV4500 transmission by SuperStick Transmission
  • South Bend dual disc clutch
  • Hurst shifter
  • 16-gallon aluminum fuel cell
  • (2) XS Power batteries

Chassis & Suspension

  • 100% custom chassis by William “BJ” Boden
  • 2×3 and 2×4 square tube frame
  • All joints CNC cut radius corners
  • Flaming River rack and pinion
  • Air Lift Dominator D2600 front/rear air bags and 3H air management system
  • 2 Viair 444C compressors
  • QA1 adjustable front and rear shocks
  • Hand-built IRS w/8-lug Dutchman aluminum center section

Wheels, Tires & Brakes

  • 20×9 and 20×11 Detroit Steel 0ne-off Ambassador wheels
  • 245/35ZR20 and 285/30ZR20 Nitto NT555 G2 tires
  • Front PowerStop brakes w/ electric power assist, rear inboard brakes

Body & Paint

  • Custom candy purple mixed by BJ, matte clear over natural patina
  • Paint by Chris “The Mad Professor,” Mike Kluczynski, James Rivers
  • Wood grain graphics by Shannon Best at Best Built Customs
  • Pinstriping by Todd Hanson at Hanson Graphix
  • Custom floor pan and firewall by BJ

Interior & Stereo

  • Shop: Pete’s Auto Upholstery and Trim, Taylor, MI
  • Front 2006 Lincoln MKZ bucket seats, rear factory bench seat
  • Wood floor by Don Steinman
  • Paint matched dashboard
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • Glowshift gauge pods and gauges
  • Custom fiberglass console
  • Mooneyes steering wheel
  • RetroSound head unit
  • PRV Audio 6.5-inch speakers and 32mm tweeters
  • Skar Audio subwoofer
  • Patina painted FLO air tanks

 

’89 Chevy Cheyenne C1500 | Red Ryder

On Every Kid’s Wish List in the 1990s

How many of you wanted a Red Ryder BB gun after “A Christmas Story” appeared on TV when you were a kid? It was one of the most influential movie scenes in the ’80s, and to this day it still plays nonstop during the holiday season. 

Roller block SBC 355ci V-8 Chevy
Roller block SBC 355ci V-8

Few things stick around for that long and still hold sentimental value to millions of people around the country. Show anyone in your family a picture of a stock ’88-’98 GMT400 truck, and we promise at least one of them has a great story involving one of them. Either it’s your grandpa who used one as a farm truck his whole life and watched the sunset in it with his wife for the past 30 years, or it’s your mom who met your dad in their parent’s work truck on a Friday night. Everyone has a memory that involves this all-American Bow Tie, and this particular shortbed is no different.

American Powertrain “White Lightning” Tremec 5-speed transmission

bucket seats

Dylan Eaton from Spring Hill, Florida, grew up with this exact truck—well, a stock daily-driven version of it at least. His dad picked it up from the dealership new in 1989 and drove it until 2008 when he gave it to Dylan. This was the first truck Dylan ever owned, and he wanted to prove he cared about it as much as his dad did. Now after a little over eight years and around $25,000 dollars or more, Dylan is proud to tell the story of this long-time family member. He knew the path he wanted to take when he started customizing. A daily driven, big power, thick tire street machine. Nothing more and nothing less. He wants to jump the truck at any time and have a strong crank. No special fuel and no pre-charging, just a ready and reliable show truck.

Welded roll pan

Because it was so well maintained since its time on the showroom floor, the exterior of the truck only needed some fresh paint and a few simple upgrades. A Street Scene front grille with billet inserts was installed, the factory bumpers were shaved and painted, the bed rail stake holes were shaved, and a steel roll pan was welded and smoothed in. Finally, the whole truck was painted Viper Red by Donnie Peake of Peake’s Autobody Inc. To get the stance correct, Dylan and his dad installed a 5-inch front and 7-inch rear suspension drop that included DJM Control Arms, Belltech coil springs, new spindles, a rear flip kit, C-notch for the rear frame rails, and Belltech Street Performer shocks. They also bolted on a 1.375-inch front sway bar with polyurethane bushings and body mounts as well as a Calvert Racing Caltrac bar.

Viper Red Chevy
Forever Sharp steering wheel
Forever Sharp steering wheel
Street Scene front grille

The power plant on this sweet OBS is an ’87 GM roller block SBC 355ci V-8 built by Mark’s Performance and Machine in New Port Richey, Florida. The block was balanced, blueprinted, decked and line honed. It was also bored 0.030 over and has a Pro Meth methanol injection system. Eagle connecting rods, Comp Cams nx276hr camshaft, JE Pistons, Total Seal rings and King bearings complete the internals, and it’s all bolted together with ARP bolts and studs. Under the block is a Morosso oil pan. Topping off the engine build are Air Flow Research Eliminator 180cc heads, a polished 192-intake 16-rib supercharger from The Blower Shop, a Devane “Weekend Warrior” 930cfm carburetor, and Hooker Headers. These bolt up to Hooker Max Flow mufflers and flow out the back of the truck. An MSD ignition keeps the timing in check and an American Powertrain “White Lightning” Tremec 5-speed transmission with hydraulic throwout bearings and a SPEC Type 3 clutch wrap up the drivetrain.

Dakota Digital VHX

All this power is sent back to the 14-bolt 5-lug 454SS rearend with 3:73 gears. Some 17-inch American Racing Torq Thrust 2 wheels are at each corner with a 17×7 up front and 17×9.5 in the rear. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires give Dylan the traction he needs and the SSBC Big Bite brakes stop him when he steps on the pedal. The SSBC rear disc brake conversion and SSBC adjustable proportioning valve give him all the braking power he needs for this beast of a truck. 

’89 Chevy Cheyenne C1500
’89 Chevy Cheyenne C1500

This truck is on every grown kid’s Christmas list, and you don’t have to worry about shooting your own eye out with a truck like this—although you may break a few necks when you drive by.  

  Truck Specs:

Dylan Eaton
’89 Chevy Cheyenne C1500
Spring Hill, Florida

Chassis/Suspension

  • 5-inch front and 7-inch rear suspension drop 
  • DJM control arms
  • Belltech springs and spindles
  • Belltech flip kit and C-notch
  • Belltech Street Performer shocks
  • 1.375-inch front sway bar
  • Polyurethane bushings and body mounts
  • Calvert Racing Caltrac bars

Engine/Drivetrain/Performance

  • ’87 GM roller block SBC 355ci V-8
  • Built by Mark’s Performance and Machine in New Port Richey, Florida
  • Balanced, Blueprinted, Decked, Line Honed
  • Bored 0.030 over
  • Pro Meth methanol injection
  • Eagle connecting rods
  • JE Pistons with Total Seal rings
  • King bearings
  • ARP bolts and studs
  • Moroso oil pan
  • Comp Cams nx276hr camshaft
  • 502/520 lift and 276/288 duration
  • Air Flow Research Eliminator 180cc heads
  • The Blower Shop polished 192-intake 16-rib supercharger
  • Devane “Weekend Warrior” 930cfm carburetor
  • Hooker Headers
  • Hooker Max Flow mufflers
  • MSD ignition
  • American Powertrain “White Lightning” Tremec 5-speed transmission
  • T56 Magnum with hydraulic throwout bearing
  • SPEC Type 3 clutch

Wheels/Tires/Brakes

  • 17-inch American Racing Torq Thrust 2 wheels
  • 17×7 front width 17×9.5 rear width
  • Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires
  • 224/45/17 front and 275/40/17 rear
  • SSBC Big Bite brakes
  • SSBC rear disc brake conversion
  • SSBC adjustable proportioning valve
  • 14-bolt 5-lug 454 SS rearend with 3:73 gears

Body/Paint

  • Street Scene front grille
  • Billet grille inserts
  • Shaved and painted factory bumpers
  • Bed rail stake holes shaved
  •  
  • Painted Viper Red by Donnie Peake of Peake’s Autobody Inc.

Interior

  • 454 SS bucket seats
  • Black with red stitching by Catalina Custom Upholstery in Spring Hill, Florida
  • Dakota Digital VHX carbon fiber and red gauge cluster
  • Forever Sharp steering wheel
  • Sony single din head unit
  • Factory dash and door panels dyed black

1990 Chevrolet Named ROBERT E. LEE

Here Comes the Calvary a 1990 Chevrolet Named ROBERT E. LEE

In 1997, Barrett Stewart was injected with a custom truck virus when a few friends asked him to hang out one weekend. It only took one experience in the laid back lifestyle we enthusiasts all know and love to get Barrett hooked. Over the years, he bought and sold a few of the industry’s most well known rides, but this latest one is special, and it may not go anywhere anytime soon. Barrett had some previous custom truck owner experience with his first truck, a ’94 GMC Sonoma known as “Sweet as Candy,” which was featured in Mini Truckin magazine back in ’97. Next on his list of good looking rides was a ’96 Chevy S-10 Blazer two-door called “Double Exposure.” That build was also featured in Mini Truckin. Lastly, his third custom truck was a ’99 Chevrolet Tahoe four-door named “816 Hours” in a past Street Trucks article. This is the truck that began the OBS obsession for Barrett. 

1990 Chevrolet

“This truck had a great start from previous owner, Brian Baird, and I was lucky enough to buy the truck and see a vision of how he envisioned it complete,” Barrett says.

Body-dropped on 24-inch wheels was the goal, and previous owner Brian was the man making the mods to the metal.

Body mods on this amazing truck include a chopped top roof, a Goodmark Steel SS Ram air hood, Hart front inner fenders, shaved fuel door and a steel roll pan.

The factory frame rails were notched for tie rods and stock floor body dropped using 2×4-inch square tubing. A custom four-link suspension with a Panhard bar and pinion snubber mounts up to the factory rear end that is loaded with Moser Axles and 3.73 Auburn limited slip gears. The front end hardware was swapped out for Michigan Metal Works upper and lower control arms, airbags and an Airlift 3H air management system. This gave Barrett the ability to lay body on 24×9-inch front and 24×12-inch Raceline Status 6 wheels. The Delinte DS8 tire sizes are 255/35/24 up front and 305/35/24 in the rear. A rear disc brake conversion with a Wilwood Master cylinder and stainless braided brake lines give this truck plenty of stopping power.

Custom door panel on a 1990 ChevroletBlue 1990 Chevrolet OBSThe truck is LS swapped using a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3-Liter LS, A Comp Cams “Big Mutha Thumper” cam, a Be Cool aluminum radiator, Edelbrock coil pack covers, Boost brothers mid length headers and 3-inch spin tech mufflers. LS1 engine dress up accessories and an Edelbrock Pro flow EFI conversion wrapped up the engine mods. A 2002 GM 4L80E transfers the power to the rear axles.

Body mods on this amazing truck include a chopped top roof, a Goodmark Steel SS Ram air hood, Hart front inner fenders, shaved fuel door and a steel roll pan. There’s also a shaved roof drip rail, shaved third brake light, shaved stake pockets and shaved tailgate handle. All the amazing bodywork was performed by Kevin Fulmer Shadetree Customs Pomaria, SC. The color is Toyota Cavalry Blue with Toyota Cement Gray graphics. All paint and graphics were also completed by Kevin Fulmer at Shadetree customs.

A few events that this killer truck can be seen at include the Battle in Bama ‘Million Dollar Row,’ East Tennessee Showdown, Drop Em Wear show, Mini Truckin’ Nationals and more. 

Edelbrock coil pack covers on a 1990 ChevroletA few events that this killer 1990 Chevrolet C1500 truck can be seen at include the Battle in Bama “Million Dollar Row,” East Tennessee Showdown, Drop Em Wear show, Mini Truckin’ Nationals and more.

“With the help of great friends and amazing family my vision became reality. Thanks to my extended family in Relaxed Atmosphere for always being there to give support or ideas” Barrett says.

TRUCK SPECS

Barrett Stewart
1990 Chevrolet C1500
Location: Laurens SC
Club affiliation: Relaxed Atmosphere
Occupation: Owner of Superior Auto
Cost of 1990 Chevrolet: $9,000
Date of original Purchase: October 2017
Cost of Build-up:  $25,000
How long from build date to completion: 3 years

Chassis

  • Factory frame notched for tie rods and stock floor body drop
  • 2×4 square tubing performed by Brian Baird
  • Custom four-link suspension with a Panhard bar and pinion snubber
  • Factory rear end with Moser Axles 3.73 auburn limited slip
  • Michigan Metal Works upper and lower control arms
  • Airlift 3H air management system

Wheels/Tires

  • 24×9 front and 24×12 rear Raceline Status 6 wheels
  • 255/35/24 front and 305/35/24 rear Delinte DS8 tires
  • Rear disc brake conversion
  • Wilwood master cylinder
  • Stainless braided brake lines
  • Aluminum RCI 15 gallon

Engine

  • 2002 Chevrolet 5.3 LS
  • COMP CAM Big Mutha Thumper cam
  • Be Cool aluminum radiator
  • LS1 accessories
  • Edelbrock coil pack covers
  • Boost brothers mid length headers
  • 3-inch spin tech mufflers
  • Edelbrock Pro flow
  • 2002 GM 4L80E 3200 stall

Body

  • Chop topped
  • Stock floor body Dropped 3.5-inch
  • Goodmark Steel SS Ram air hood
  • Hart front inner fenders
  • Stock front bumper and steel roll pan rear
  • Shaved fuel door
  • LMC factory replacement with beam tech LED bulbs
  • Hart Fabrication wheel tubs
  • Shaved roof drip rail, shaved third brake light, shaved stale pockets, shaved tailgate handle, shaved fuel door and molded roll pan
  • Bodywork by Kevin Fulmer, Shadetree Customs in Pomaria, SC
  • Toyota Cavalry Blue paint polor
  • Toyota Cement Gray graphics
  • Paint and graphics by Kevin Fulmer, Shadetree Customs

Interior/Stereo 

  • Dakota Digital VHX gauge cluster
  • Custom wrapped panels in leather
  • Interior done by Jason Mode and crew at New Creations in Lattimore, NC
  • Chris Snowden bench seat in gray distressed leather
  • Forever Sharp steering wheel
  • Pioneer double din, sony 6.5-inch component set, four JL Audio 8W0 subs, JL Audio Slash 300/4 and JL Audio Slash 500/1 amps
  • Audio by Superior Auto in Laurens, SC

“Thanks to David at Coys wheel, Raceline Wheels, Dunbar Auto Supply, Jeff Smith at Colorworx paint shop, Delinte tires, Kevin and Kory Fulmer at Shadetree Customs, Ronnie at Lowrider Depot, all my guys at Superior Auto, Andrew White at Mainstreet Auto Detailing, Jason Mode at New Creations, Hart Fabrication, Keith and Tommy Allewine at TKM Customs, and most importantly my wife Nikki and or two amazing boys, Rett and Eli.”

 

STELLA! The Complete Build…

A Street Truck Aimed to Inspire

The classic movie, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” was recently selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Lately, it seems that ’88-’98 Chevy trucks are quickly being known to have the same qualities in the truck enthusiast world. GMT400 trucks were on every street corner and car show in the ’90s. With massive production numbers and excellent engineering, these Chevy trucks are still pretty easy to come by and available in many different forms, including shortbed, longbed, quad cab and even two different SUV platforms. Oftentimes, the guy who’s buying and restoring these trucks wanted one in his teen years, and now he’s older, generally successful and more financially stable than when he was 16 years old. These factors also drive custom parts manufacturers to focus on making products for the industry icons and get ahead of the popularity curve.

’88-’98 Chevy trucks
’88-’98 Chevy trucks

It’s easy to talk the talk and say you’re a fan of this body style, but it’s far more impactful to walk the walk and own one yourself. So, we took the challenge and jumped into the deep end of desire by picking up a running, driving ’95 Chevy C/K truck from the original owner for a smooth $2,000. Cold A/C and a solid cranking 4.3-liter V-6 gave this truck the appeal, but the full gas tank and a fresh oil change showed us that the previous owner still had love for this 20-plus-year-old family member. 

To quickly explain the project’s name: “Stella” is a Latin term meaning “star.” The name popped in our heads after we ordered our 22-inch American Racing Nova wheels. The word “Nova” is a female name of Latin origin that has a definition of both “newness” and “of great energy.” It’s also an astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, just like this truck’s future. (Plus, Stella was a pretty stellar character in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”) So, with all that in mind, the name Stella just fits, don’t you think?

Over the next few pages, we’re going to take you through the process of giving this truck new life on the same old roads it’s been cruising down since its inception, first starting with a new suspension, upgraded disc brakes and a new set of wheels and tires. That’s only the beginning, but you have to follow along to see the rest. If this truck doesn’t motivate you to go out and start wrenching on your own OBS project, I’m not sure you picked up the right publication. Now let’s get to the good stuff!  

Chevy Frame
Before we got down to the nitty gritty, Dallas Maynard from Full Pen Fabrication removed the bed and pressure cleaned the frame. Twenty-plus years of rust and road grime is better off in the driveway than in your face—am I right?
RideTech C-notch
RideTech supplied this C-notch
To get the truck as low as we want it, we need to make some clearance in the factory frame rail. If we don’t, the axle will hit the frame every time we hit a bump, and the sound it makes is something we don’t want to hear! RideTech supplied this C-notch with our new suspension kit so the frame was traced, drilled and sliced before our new C-notch was bolted in. This bolt-on C-notch reinforces the OEM frame rails and features integrated suspension mounts.
 This bolt-on wishbone system greatly improves traction, handling and ride quality while offering a 4- to 6-inch drop in height. Installation does not require any welding or major modifications to the bed floor. It includes patent-pending R-joint rod ends to eliminate binding and noise. The HQ Series coilovers are direct bolt-on and allow for easy adjustment.
HQ Series coilovers
HQ Series coilovers
Front HQ Series coilovers include bolt-on upper shock mounts to allow more ground clearance and maximum suspension travel, front upper and lower StrongArm tubular control arms, front and rear HQ Series coilover shocks, front sway bar and HD drop spindles.
Big brake kit
This Pro Performance 14-inch front and 13-inch rear big brake kit is designed for ’88-’98 GM trucks and SUVs. This kit does not require machining to the axle or rotors, and the caliper has an integrated parking brake option. This brake kit will work with any disc brake drop spindle, such as McGaughy’s, Street Edge or Belltech. You will receive a template and instructions on modifying your spindle, which requires cutting of the caliper “ears” and drilling and tapping for the caliper mounting bracket. They look amazing behind our 22-inch American Racing wheels and Nitto Invo tires.

 

Plastic grille
Classic Industries black plastic grille
Classic Industries offers this reproduction black plastic grille as well as the dual composite headlamps and corner lights that are all designed to replace the original. This conversion is as simple as unbolting the original grille and headlights and swapping in the new stuff. To swap the headlight plugs, we turned to MrTailLight.com for the kit. The company offers the new headlight plugs and all the mounting hardware you need to take the guesswork out of the process. We can’t convey how simple this process is and it’s very affordable.
383ci Stroker motor
BluePrint Engines 383ci Stroker motor
Now to focus on the engine swap. The factory 4.3-liter V-6 has got to go, but since this is a perfectly running engine and transmission, we will save it for a quick flip project. The crew at Overpower Customs yanks engines on the daily so ripping this one out is child’s play. Jason and Trey removed all the plugs and bolts before hooking it up to a forklift. Replacing it will be a new BluePrint Engines 383ci Stroker motor paired up to a Centerforce clutch in our American Powertrain transmission.
Cleaning the engine bay
Before the new engine can go in, Trey pressure cleaned the engine bay to remove all the old grease and grime. The core of this truck is in great shape!
Vintage Air pulley kit
Vintage Air pulley kit
Our BluePrint Engines 383ci Stroker engine comes turnkey other than the drive pulleys. So, before they bolt up the new 5-speed American Powertrain transmission, a Vintage Air Front Runner drive pulley kit goes in. The completed kit looks amazing! It is nice and tight to the block, so we don’t have to worry about fitment when installing the engine. Also, the Bright finish gives its the quality look they deserve.

To control our fuel delivery system, we chose to go with Edelbrock’s new Pro-Flo 4 electronic fuel injection. The Pro-Flo 4 is not just a replacement for your carburetor. It’s a complete engineered system that provides the ultimate in performance, drivability and quality. This will result in a smoother idle, faster acceleration, better peak power, improved fuel economy and the ability to control detonation, all in the E-Tuner 4 app

The key to the improved performance is the fuel injector location, which is at the end of the runner on the intake manifold right before the airflow stream enters the combustion chamber. This location provides a more efficient mixture control that’s unaffected by varying intake manifold runner temperatures and length.

Next to be bolted to the block are our Hedman Hedders designed for the SBC 350ci engine. Hedman Hedders began as a one-man shop in 1954. Bob Hedman, founder of Hedman Hedders, sold his highly sought-after exhaust tubes to fellow racers on the salt flats of the Mojave Desert. But what started out as a way to make a few bucks to pay for Bob’s racing hobby quickly turned into the premier header manufacturer for both the racing and street header marketplaces.


Centerforce is the clutch of choice for our project and recommended by American Powertrain. The Centerforce II Clutch Series utilizes a full facing disc with premium friction materials and a pressure plate with centrifugal weights. It offers superb holding power and maximum clutch life, making this clutch ideal for selected street/strip, off-road and towing applications.


• Patented centrifugal weight design
• Patented ball bearing pressure plate
• High quality friction material 
• Light pedal effort
• Increased holding capacity
• Smooth engagement

American Powertrain’s Pro-Fit kits for 88-98 Chevy/GMC C1500 OBS GMT400 trucks come in either 5 or 6-speed. There is no need to cut the floor if your truck is already manual since it fits in the factory location. This kit reuses the original cross-member. It’s actually a very easy install!  

Benefits Include:
30-50% increase in fuel economy
Low RPM cruising for greatly reduced driver fatigue and an improved highway driving experience. 
Reduced engine wear leading to longer engine life
Cooler engine operating temperature

The 88-98 Chevy kit includes
AP Revolution Shifter Mechanism locates shifter that will fit bench or bucket seats
Seamless DOM Driveshaft Assembly that has been race balanced
Solid U-Joints
A Driveshaft Slip Yoke made from Cryogenically hardened steel
Polyurethane Transmission Mount
Greased and pre-packed pilot bearing with stainless rollers
Reverse Light Harness
Electronic Speedometer Conversion
Shifter Knob and all the Hardware and instructions you need.

Mishimoto Radiator
Mishimoto radiator

With the engine fully assembled, Trey can slide the engine into the bay and start prepping the cooling system. We used a set of factory V-8 motor mounts to bolt it to the frame and Mishimoto radiators and electric fans. This is a 6.2-liter (383ci) diesel cooling system that Trey recommended for additional cooling. To make it all work correctly, Trey installed a factory OEM diesel coolant reservoir and made a trick aluminum coolant transfer pipe.

Aluminum coolant transfer pipe.
Aluminum coolant transfer pipe.
The last thing to complete before the first startup is the Dynomax exhaust. Jason welded the DIY stainless exhaust kit together and sprayed it black to look the part. 
The engine swap is complete, and no fancy wiring harness was needed. We know that LS swaps are the popular trend nowadays, but we didn’t want to hassle with the electronics on this one.
Now that we have a 5-speed transmission, we need to cut a hole in the floor for the shifter and install a clutch pedal. We used a factory pedal from the junkyard and it simply bolts into the factory location. While the interior is out, we had Corbin from Florida Boy Customs dye the dash and interior panels black.
Billet steering wheel Forever Sharp
Billet steering wheel from Forever Sharp
Instead of reinstalling the factory bench seat, we turned to TMI Interiors to see if we could get a set of their new ’88-’98 GMT400 interior kits. Luckily for us they came through and we were able to bolt in these new custom bucket seats with center console. This kit is now available for your truck and includes door panels, seats, headliner and dash cap. We also installed a new billet steering wheel from Forever Sharp and it looks perfect! What a massive upgrade to the interior of this ’95 Chevy C1500. Those TMI seats look amazing!
Dakota Digital
Dakota Digital
Sport truck mirrors from LMC Truck.
Sport truck mirrors from LMC Truck.
Before bolting up the new door panels, we swapped out the factory-style side view mirrors and replaced them with these sport truck mirrors from LMC Truck.
Time to get some blood in Stella’s veins and give her some spark. As with all of our build, we turned to Red Line for their engine oil, power steering and transmission fluids. We also poured in Mishimoto’s Chill radiator fluid. After a 500-mile break in we will flush the transmission and refill it with synchromesh transmission fluid.
Our first start was a success and Stella finally got to see the sunlight again! The Blueprint Engines 383ci Stroker sounds strong and the Dynomax exhaust rumbles perfectly. Naturally Trey wants to see if anything is loose—and what better way than to light the tires up!
While Trey finishes some final tuning to the Edlebrock Pro-Flo, we started working on the exterior of the truck. A new 2-inch raised cowl hood from Autometal Direct combined with an LMC replacement tailgate and an AVS on the Web roll pan will give the truck the aggressive look it deserves. All this new metal will need to be painted to match, and to save costs we decided to go with Automotive Touchup color matching paint and their DIY paint products that even include the paint guns.
2-inch raised cowl hood
As with any paint project, the prep work is key. We wanted a clean work area, so the garage was cleared out and sawhorses were brought in. Taping off the parts we don’t want painted comes first.
OEM panels
These OEM panels are ready for a primer with a simple scuff with scotch pads and a wipe down with acetone.
Automotive Touchup
Automotive Touchup
Automotive Touchup made it easy on us by offering a three-stage ready-to-spray paint system that requires no mixing at all. Just stir, pour and spray, giving around 15 minutes per coat and one-hour per stage.
LMC replacement tailgate
Keeping the hose away from the surface and your hand parallel the panels is what we were focused on. We are not pros or even experienced amateurs, but Automotive Touchup gave us the confidence we needed to pull off a great paint job. We were extremely impressed and pleased with the results.
Eddie Motorsports billet hood hinges
Eddie Motorsports billet hood hinges
Instead of reusing the factory hood hinges, we took the opportunity to bolt on these new Eddie Motorsports billet hood hinges. They come in polished or powdercoated with the bolt-on in the factory location. No cutting, no welding.
Bolt on the hinged hardware
The provided hardware is bolted into place and the new gas struts are clipped in. No hassle!
Hood Hinges
Lastly, the hood is brought back into the mix and bolted on with the new hardware. These hinges look great and operate extremely smoothly.
2-inch raised cowl hood
2-inch raised cowl hood from Autometal Direct.
The front of the truck is complete, and it looks great! Now time to focus on the back.
LMC replacement tailgate
LMC replacement tailgate
Hinged and hardware.
Before the new tailgate can go on, we need to bolt on the hinged and hardware. This kit from LMC Truck provides all the parts and pieces you need including the latch and trim ring.
DIY brush on bedliner
DIY brush on bedliner kit from KBS Products.
To give the inside of the bed a makeover, we taped off the edges and coated it with this DIY brush on bedliner kit from KBS Products. It’s easy to accomplish and looks great if prepared properly.
Now that the new tailgate and roll pan are installed, the back of the truck looks great, too!

Project Sources

American Powertrain
americanpowertrain.com

American Racing
www.americanracing.com

Autometal Direct
www.autometaldirect.com

Automotive Touchup Paint
www.automotivetouchup.com

AVS on the Web
www.avsontheweb.com

AZ Pro Performance
azproperformance.com

Blueprint Engines
blueprintengines.com

Centerforce Clutch
www.centerforce.com

Classic Industries
www.classicindustries.com

Dakota Digital
www.dakotadigital.com

Dynomax Exhaust
www.dynomax.com

Edelbrock
www.edelbrock.com

Forever Sharp
fssteeringwheels.com

Full Pen Fabrication
www.fullpenfab.com

Hedman Performance Group
www.hedman.com

LMC Truck
www.lmctruck.com

Lokar
www.lokar.com

Mishimoto
www.mishimoto.com

MrTailLight
www.mrtaillight.com

Nitto Tire
www.nittotire.com 

Optima Batteries
www.optimabatteries.com/en-us

Overpower Customs
overpowercustoms.com

Red Line Oil
www.redlineoil.com

RideTech Suspension
www.ridetech.com

TMI Interiors
www.tmiproducts.com

Vintage Air
www.vintageair.com