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.
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!
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 Heddersdesigned for the SBC 350ci engine. Hedman Heddersbegan 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.
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.
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.
Back to our favorite project of 2020! To catch everyone up, Stella is a 1995 Chevy C1500 truck with no major issues when we picked up for only $2,000. The original owner sold it to us after a fresh oil change and a full tank fill up, which was a good sign right from the start. The goal for this truck is a corner carving, modern driving sport truck that is completely paid off and reliable as a daily driver. Stage I of this build documented the install of a new RideTech coilover suspension system and AZ Pro Performance big disc brake conversion. Now it rides amazing on the 22-inch American Racing Nova wheels.
Next, we wanted to replace the interior so we could stop sucking in old headliner glue and 25-year-old seat dust, so a full TMI interior kit was ordered and the carpet was replaced. Now that the seats are here and ready for install, we dropped the truck off at Florida Boy Custom in High Springs, Florida, for the seat swap. While it was there, Corbin let his skills shine by completely coating the interior. Looks unreal!
Following the interior, we sent the truck over to Overpower Customs in Lake Park, Florida, for the engine swap. Our factory 4.3-liter V-6 still runs and drives like a champ, but the power doesn’t match the looks. Trey and his team will be removing the original and installing a new BluePrint Engines 383ci Stroker motor. This will be paired up with a Centerforce clutch and a new American Powertrain transmission. Before it can be bolted in, we took the time to mount the Vintage Air Front Runner pulley kit. Follow along as we watch the guys do their work.
What exactly does a harmonic balancer (sometimes called a dampener) do? Each time a cylinder fires in your engine, a force acts upon the crankshaft, causing it to twist. This force also causes vibrations in the crankshaft. These vibrations from the engine can become too much for the crankshaft to bear, causing it to fail.
This is where the harmonic balancer comes in. The circular device, made of rubber and metal, is bolted at the front end of the crankshaft to help absorb vibrations. ItÕs usually connected to the crank pulley, which drives accessories like the air conditioner. The rubber inside the pulley is what actually absorbs the vibrations and keeps them at a safe level.