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Old 06-14-2020, 10:55 PM   #1
dagnabbitt
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1981 SWB Stepside Build

This is the truck the day I got it, its actually at a bar I stopped at before I even got it home.

It was in a little fabric quonset hut in a little town near where I work, I got it for a very good price. It had not been registered in 20 years, basically one of those barn finds that I always dreamed of.

From the wheels to whatever they were doing with the interior, if this truck were a music compilation, it would be called "Greatest Hits of the Nineties".

Truck was originally an I6 but they put an old 350 that they had lying around into it. The box seems to be pre-75. The gauge cluster did not work and I found that it was because it wasn't original to the truck, along with the bezel... I think it was also pre-75. The grill they went the other direction with: not an 81, but around an 85.

Drip rails removed or never there, and an old tonneau over the box seems to have kept the wood in good shape. Paint looks good from 30 feet away.
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Last edited by dagnabbitt; 06-14-2020 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:27 AM   #2
Palf70Step
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Nice looking truck. My 81 also had the front grill/bumper/etc replaced with an 84 when the original owner had a fender bender. What makes you think the bed is older, the gas filler? If I were to guess, yours may have been redone with a parts truck like mine was, but they left the drip rails off when it was repainted.
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Old 06-15-2020, 10:55 AM   #3
dagnabbitt
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Thanks! I've been watching your build thread too, interesting how they made so many of these trucks and so many of them were blue. Mine was originally that sort of baby blue that I always think of it as "government blue" since it was popular on base models. The Bombay blue that is on it now was just sprayed over the the old paint.

This truck is certainly a base model. Vinyl non-folding seat, no headliner: aside from the automatic transmission, I can't find an option on it. Wish it had dual tanks at least, filling it up every couple of days is a bit of a drag.

The gas filler leads me to suspect that parts of the bed are pre-75 yes, or that the PO was making an aesthetic choice when he was buying parts for it, maybe he just liked the look of it. The truck came with an incorrect set of 73-78 door panels, and as I said the 74 gauge bezel - it has that faux woodgrain veneer on it - makes me think that PO just really liked that era of squarebody.
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Old 06-15-2020, 12:10 PM   #4
Palf70Step
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Far as I know door panels interchange between all models. If it has a fuel door on the driver's fender than it is at least an 80, but I think 81 was the change year on the fillers. If you can see you vin thru the windshield and the dashpad has the opening for it, then you have later model dash pad and the prior owner mave have just changed out the dash bezel. I believe 73 and 74 had amp meters not volt gauges, so that could be a cue also. I pieced together several dash panels to get all my gauges finally to work. Not sure what year everything is. If you know what your looking at you'll see some slight differences in the gauges fonts, etc.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:53 PM   #5
Matt Man
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by dagnabbitt View Post
This is the truck the day I got it, its actually at a bar I stopped at before I even got it home.

It was in a little fabric quonset hut in a little town near where I work, I got it for a very good price. It had not been registered in 20 years, basically one of those barn finds that I always dreamed of.

From the wheels to whatever they were doing with the interior, if this truck were a music compilation, it would be called "Greatest Hits of the Nineties".

Truck was originally an I6 but they put an old 350 that they had lying around into it. The box seems to be pre-75. The gauge cluster did not work and I found that it was because it wasn't original to the truck, along with the bezel... I think it was also pre-75. The grill they went the other direction with: not an 81, but around an 85.

Drip rails removed or never there, and an old tonneau over the box seems to have kept the wood in good shape. Paint looks good from 30 feet away.
Nice truck I am partial to 81's as I own one as well. The grille is a 83-84 and is one of my favorite grilles of the 80's trucks. If the bed has the gas cap then yes the bed could be from a mid to early 70s or the fender could be from a earlier bed. Drip rails were standard in 81. What are the plans for the truck?
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Old 06-27-2021, 12:31 AM   #6
dagnabbitt
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Sorry I have neglected this thread, I got caught up in my 1968 C20. I should always focus on one thing at a time, but never do.

This truck has been steadily improved, though. I bought a new dash pad for it, and using a Classic Industries cover, had the seat redone. It also folds, now. Some door panels from the junkyard, and a wood grain Grant steering wheel simply to remind me of high school.

Mostly creature comforts, in other words. This is the only truck I own that you can have a conversation with a passenger in without shouting over wind noise or the howl of the drivetrain; I am not kidding. I am looking to make it my daily driver.

In terms of driveability I located a 1991 700r4 for a hundred bucks and had it rebuilt with a shift kit and 2200-2500 stall: it is built with "corvette parts" as they say. It became a new truck over night. Even with the tired old 350 the tires break loose not just in first, but when shifting to second, too. The best part though is that I drive the freeway and highway 30 miles each way to work and with that fourth gear my rpms are way down.

As to that tired old 350 - if it even is a 350 - it is more than just tired, it is done for. It has so much blowby that it is frankly hilarious at this point. I installed a road draft tube just to get it home the other day, and when moving it from my driveway to the street I have to put a quart or two of oil in it. No one can accuse me of acting too soon on this engine, I waited until the truck was undrivable.

I am refocused on this truck: after much deliberation and consultation with the forum, I have ordered and received a new 355 from Blueprint. I never supposed I could afford this option, but it turns out that staying out of the bars for a year and a half due to world events (and quitting smoking) was just the ticket. Nuff said, check out the below!
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Old 06-27-2021, 11:42 AM   #7
The Rocknrod
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Nice engine. I bought a blueprint for mine. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of everything, having heard internet gossip. Purrs like a kitten.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:37 PM   #8
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Re: 1981 SWB Stepside Build

Good power and torque with that engine. That'll be fun.
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