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Old 05-01-2012, 02:58 PM   #1
LEEVON
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Quest to DD my '71 again

I need to face the music. Less than 5k miles in 10 years is no way to appreciate a truck. The only way she's ever going to see regular sunlight again is if I bring her up to the daily driver status like 1994-2000. Yeah, she looks nice, but she's really just driver quality with many things needing attention. I want quiet, reliable and fun. These are my must haves in order of priority:
  • LEAKS. Despite having maybe 2K miles on the engine and 1K miles on the trans, I have pesky leaks that won't submit and the rear end too. I can't have leaks, period.

  • AIR CONDITIONING. I have all the stuff but I need to rehab the whole system and put it all back together. Not easy or quick but needs to be done.

  • SHOULDER BELTS. I hate the looks of aftermarket harnesses, I currently have lap belts. Not sure how to get past the looks, maybe I just have to.

  • TILT. I have it, needs paint and installation.

  • SUSPENSION. Functional, but outdated and a little worn. In front I have old DJM 3" lower control arms and cut springs with a new CPP sway bar. The sway bar doesn't jive too well with the arms and the steering arm also hits it when turning certain ways. That has to be fixed. The ride is ok, but I'd like to switch to spindles and drop springs, with new shocks at all corners. In the rear I have 4" lower springs and 1.5" blocks which works but I also need to get my CPP adjustable track bar on there and would like 5" springs.

  • ENGINE / EXHAUST. I want to ditch the headers for cast manifolds and get a new exhaust that is quieter. I also want to replace the billet crap under the hood with original stuff (air cleaner, valve covers, etc). She runs real good right now but shiny, hot, and fast aren't priority any more. Besides it's getting real ugly in there.
Am I nuts, do I expect too much or can I have my cake and eat it too? What compromises you make to drive your trucks?
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:03 PM   #2
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I don't see why you couldn't. I plan on doing something similar with my '74 after the LS swap. It should get decent mileage, and I like it better than just about anything else.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:06 PM   #3
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Nice ride.. Fix those leaks and drive the wheels off of it....
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:07 PM   #4
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I've contemplated a 5.3L swap, in fact had one ready but it went into another project. I'm good in the drivetrain department though, just needs some attention. Low mileage 350 with heads, cam, hydraulic lifters, rolller rockers, etc. New 700R4 with some upgrades and a 3.73 rear end (non-posi). Mileage is ok, but I'm still sorting out the lock-up. It locks in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th which drives me nuts.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:35 PM   #5
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I hear ya....nice truck! Drive mine...almost daily.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:57 PM   #6
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I say fix the leaks get the A/C going & drive it.

The seat belts & installing the column can be good weekend projects.

The suspension can also be a weekend job.

Plus arent truck projects what vacation days are for?
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:02 PM   #7
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

nice lookin truck. Call Bowler trans about the lockup. Leaks and rattles are not allowed in my house, and they can be a pain to fix, but just do it. In the long run it will be well worth it.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:07 PM   #8
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Check out Juliano's for the shoulder belts. I picked up 3pt retractables that look like the originals. Btw, that's a sweet looking truck!
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:48 PM   #9
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Every truck I've ever had I said I was going to make a daily out of, but never ends up that way! I would DD my green truck in my avatar because it's rusted everywhere, but it's just a little too thirsty. I would love to 5.3 swap it, and most likley will, but That's where I need to stop if I can control myself.

Your truck, I don't think I could bring myself to DD though, just a little too nice. Spring, summer and fall, sure, but the salt around here would kill it in a hurry.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:59 PM   #10
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Of course you can have your cake and eat it too. I'm slowly bringing my truck to a quiet, clean and stock DD status. Interior and exterior are pretty much done. Drivetrain done. The only things left to do as of now is convert to disc brakes and like you, ditch the headers. Everything else is just where she needs to be.

And on the lockup issue, that's an easy fix requiring some wiring and a couple valve body plugs. Unfortunately you'll have to drop the trans pan and lay on your back under the valve body to do it... but that's a good time to change the trans fluid.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:06 PM   #11
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

5K in 10 years? Wow.
I did 3500 from April to October this past year just going to cruise nights and shows.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:17 PM   #12
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I have a 67 gmc 6cy 4seed i drive every day do it.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Well i dont know what kind of daily driving you do but consider the fact that road rash is a part of daily driving. You will end up in circumstances you really dont want to be in with your truck. For example the inevitable uninsured driver. They always seem to be the ones hitting people. I drive about 30k a year and no way could i afford to do it without my trusty HHR. figure out your annual average mileage and then figure your fuel cost. Then calculate another option getting about 25 mpg. All that money going in your fuel tank could be more parts or even more trucks. Of course if you dont have far to go on a daily basis i say go for it. I have often thought it would be cool to have a 69 Camaro in driver condition as my DD.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:16 PM   #14
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Thanks for the tips!

Went ahead and roasted the carrier bearing Saturday, so that's fixed now It's a start. As for the leaks, I've replaced the pan gasket, rear main, valve covers oil pressure sending unit, manifold gasket/seal....all on a new engine. The next step is to yank it and put it on the stand and find out what's really going on.

As for road rash and accidents, been there done that! In 5 or 6 years of DD duty through high school and part of college I was rear ended, T-boned (frame bent, wrecked the bed and back of the cab), and sideswiped. The fear of crashing/totalling the truck isn't an issue for me, I can build another one. I'm more concerned with safety and reliability. I drove about 20K miles last year in my new truck but it's slowing down.

Time to get to work I guess!
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:21 AM   #15
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I don't understand, I DD mine no problem. Oh wait, there's no understanding of the word show or quality in mine.

Yup even with 7.9 mpg. 4.09 a gallon beats a car payment with full coverage any day. No ac, no power steering, no power brakes, duct tape on my seat, cold blooded, original suspension I'm sure, occasional fighting to put it in 1st or R if needed. Rust, some rot, passenger vent window won't close because it's missing the retaining handle thing, cassette blapunkt from who knows when, sounds like a wind tunnel if I go above 30mph, no horn, blinkers won't turn off automatically, really need new wipers, have to let it warm up for 5 minutes in the morning.

I'll get it done eventually. But it'll never be perfect. If you wait to accomplish these things Before you make it a DD, it will never be one. Something else is holding you back. Figure out what that is and drive the hell out of it, it's begging for it.

Talked to my buddy about hauling a bed full of firewood the other day and I think my 68 drooled a bit it was so excited.

Upon further investigation it was a small antifreeze leak from the upper radiator hose.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:02 AM   #16
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I have gotten soft/spoiled from driving new trucks. I tried to DD my '87 swb a couple of years ago and after one spin-out on an icy bridge and being stranded because of a blown fuse I stopped. I need more resolve this time!
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:53 AM   #17
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I feel your pain. I remember when my blazer was my DD. LOVED it! It got about 9mpg, with a 406, 6" lift, and 36."swampers. When gas hit $2 a gal, I started driving something more economical. Man, I wish I was paying $2 a gallon again!
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:39 AM   #18
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Quote:
Originally Posted by LEEVON View Post
I have gotten soft/spoiled from driving new trucks.
This is the real problem, and I have it to.

I DD my '72 from '86 to '02

My "new" truck is now 10 years old and it does everything so well, I just about have to make myself drive my 72. Or have a need for it's 1ton 4x4 capabilities.

I am almost embarrassed to say how few miles I have driven it in the last ten years, but I love my old truck and decided to change some things to make it DD friendly. First and foremost was to fix the A/C. If you live somewhere that it truly gets hot, it is a deal breaker.

Next was to remove the headers and use them for target practice. Stock manifolds and a quieter exhaust to get rid of the leaks and gasket issues.

Last was a more practical suspension, in my case it was too tall, and 37 inch tires are just flat out uncomfortable, not to mention the gas they sucked. Make the suspension work for your needs, ie not to high/low/stiff/uncomfortable. A suspension that makes it look great, or is designed for the racetrack or the off road trails, but is a pain to put up with will always make you get into your newer car.

There has always been discussion about what is a DD. There are guys running the Hot Rod Drag week event in 7 second - 200mph drag cars that call them streetable, but there is a big difference between streetable and a real DD. A couple of things I agree with to decide whether a ride is a DD too me, can be phrased as questions. Would you put a suit on and take your family to a wedding/funeral/church in it? Would you drive it to work and take your boss out to lunch? Even if the weather was hot/raining/cold? Would you get into it and drive across country with no more than a credit card for gas? And the answers are not "can you", but "would you enjoy doing it"

The other major thing that takes a vehicle out of the DD category for me is a fantastic paint job. Perfect paint means you are forever going to be parking at the farthest parking spot, and you will still worry about some idiot hitting it with a shopping cart. Not a problem with my 72 truck, but I have a Camaro that is too nice to let out of sight. It is undrivable, don't make that mistake..

A few changes and I now drive and enjoy mine much more, you can to.
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:40 PM   #19
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

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Originally Posted by LEEVON View Post
snip...

I'm more concerned with safety and reliability.

...snip
I know you guys will roast me for saying this but if you're looking for safety and reliability, a 1971 pick-up isn't it.

Safety wise, a newer sub-compact, with crumple zones, 3-point seat belts, fuel cut-off switches, and 19,000 air bags is a heck of a lot safer than our trucks. Even if they are 2000 pounds lighter.

Reliability wise, I almost hate my daily driver. I'd love to get a newer, nicer looking, faster, better fuel mileage DD but the darn thing starts every time, tells me WAY ahead of time when I need to look at something (check engine light), is easy on fuel, and just won't die. The German in me can't see throwing away a perfectly servicable piece of equipment to replace it with one that MAY save me $200/year in fuel and part with $20,000 in the mean time.

I've seen some pretty fantastic looking wrecks - so bad that you can't even tell what the car is - and the person was treated for a minor bruise and released on the scene.

That rust-repaired area in the floor of your (Not YOUR truck Leevon, but the general category of truck we all drive) truck where your lap belt is attached, is that going to hold up in a 30 mph head on?
45 mph?
55 mph?
To sell a car in this country, all that stuff is tested AND WORKS.

I'm not saying I wouldn't drive my truck to work. I do when I need to. However 10mpg with a tail wind in my truck verses 30+ mpg in my daily driver hurts. It hurts alot. And it doesn't appear that we'll see $2/gallon gas any time soon.

Personally I'd address all your issues (I hate headers and loud exhaust, no AC, and leaks on the garage floor) then go get a modern, efficient vehicle to use 80% of the time making your truck a part-time daily driver.

My opinion is worth what you just paid for it.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:16 PM   #20
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

You make some great points there is definitely no comparison between 1970's technology and cars today. I was a kid in the 70's though and remember we did all the things we do today in cars of that era. I think if you get everything running right and your vehicle is well maintained an old truck or car can be a great daily driver. Your point about safety though is well taken.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:38 PM   #21
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrein3 View Post
I know you guys will roast me for saying this but if you're looking for safety and reliability, a 1971 pick-up isn't it.

Safety wise, a newer sub-compact, with crumple zones, 3-point seat belts, fuel cut-off switches, and 19,000 air bags is a heck of a lot safer than our trucks. Even if they are 2000 pounds lighter.
The safety thing is about all I would roast you on... tell me you would rather be in a scion than in a full size pickup in a 40mph crash with another full size truck!?! Seriously you would be in the ICU for sure if not dead if you were in the car! I use this example because I have seen what happens in real life to "sub compact cars" vs. trucks/suv's and have treated the people in the cars... not trying to be debbie downer here but just saying
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:56 PM   #22
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Bunch of pansies growing here in this forum with all this "new" daily driver talk. Makes me sick to my stomach hahaha

I was daily driving my '72 blazer with a 350, mild lift with 33s, NO heat, NO A/C but lots of rust holes in the bed so I had fresh air blowing through the entire cab all the time. I drove it topless in the winter and rain season on many trips to haul vehicles 100's of miles back home. Mileage...I'm not sure what that it and gas is around $5/G up here if we do the conversion..actually more. It was the most reliable vehicle I've had so far. Only thing that ever went was the water pump, which was replaced on the side of the road after I limped it off the highway. Try doing that with a new vehicle...aint gonna happen.

I went from a 2006 Chrysler 300STR-8 fully loaded as my daily driver to the '72 Blazer and never wanted to go back to a new car again. I still wont go back to driving a new car. I rather drive old iron with all it's non-safety features and quarks than a new vehicle I'm not allowed to work on lol

Personally, I'd fix all the leaks and fix the suspension on it. Otherwise I'd drive it and pick a project to do on it each weekend. Fix and prep everything you have for it and then take a day or two to install one thing. Do it that way and it'll also give you something to do while you drive it and enjoy it.

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Old 05-02-2012, 03:17 PM   #23
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Leevon, you mentioned you could fix it if it gets wrecked which brings up another question, how do you insure a nice old DD? Most insurance companies either wont insure them, or if they do for any decent ammount, they don't like you driving them all the time. An old beater like mine, I have liability only on, figure if anything happens to it too bad all I'm out is a grand or so. But a nice truck with a stated value policy is a whole other story.

I pretty much daily drive a 1933 Ford 4 door in the summer, and its insured pretty good, but my insurance agent would probably have a cow if he knew how much I drive it. I figure if anything ever happens to it, I'll just say I was on my way to or from a show. If something happens on my way to work, I was leaving work early that day to have something fixed on it. Its probably kind of shady, but with the way insurance companies are, its all you can do.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:59 PM   #24
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

I like the lively discussion! Safety is a factor, but so is me acting like a pansy so I can't have it both ways. There is no denying that my '08 silverado crew cab is much safer with airbags, abs, traction-control (that one is debatable) but in general there is no comparing.

As for insurance, I almost posted on that up top...it can be an issue. I'm currently with American Collector's (like Hagerty, Grundy) which is an agreed value policy at $20k but pretty restrictive, as in no work related driving. I'm kinda lucky here though...my neighbor is in charge of ANPAC's "Chrome", so I can go straight to the supreme authority and get that figured out.

My plan from here forward is to document my quest to make this a DD, what it takes to get it "right", and where I end up.
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Old 05-02-2012, 04:49 PM   #25
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Re: I want to DD my '71 again

Keep that truck and get something that you don't mind scratching and beating up. I thought for a while that once I finish my truck I will be able to drive it every day, but the honest truth is that if I pretty it all up like I plan, then there is no way I will be able to handle the deterioration of daily driving.
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