Full circle 40 years later
Our story starts with a 1972 Chevelle. My wife and I are lifelong car lovers and for years have owned a ’72 Chevelle that, as we grew older, just became too much car for us. With no PS, PB, heat, AC, wipers, radio … and the ability to travel the quarter mile in 9 seconds (with 4″ exhaust on DOT tires) we found ourselves driving it less and less as it wasn’t comfortable or fun (roll cages and old age don’t mix!). One day my wife decided (after years of attending car shows with the Chevelle) that trucks were cool and that she really wanted an old truck with AC that we could enjoy all summer long in East Texas. I asked her to search Facebook and find what she wanted. The absolute BEST part of this story is the truck, after a year of searching, that she picked out was almost identical to the first vehicle that I owned when I was 16 and drove to HS before she and I knew each and I had long since sold unfortunately. She had never seen pictures of my first truck so for her to pick out the almost exact same make, model and color combination was incredible … and fate we believe!
Our 1971 GMC Sierra Grande started life in St. Louis and has spent most of its time in the Topeka, Kansas area. It’s a numbers matching 402/TH400 truck with factory AC the original 12-bolt rear. The truck has undergone a frame-off restoration at McPherson College in Kansas and with my wife and I both being career educators we thought that was so neat that teachers and educators have brought it back to life. The cab corners and rockers were replaced and other than that it’s all the original sheet metal sprayed in the factory colors. The factory AC has been converted to R134A using components from Old Air Products in Ft. Worth, Texas and was brought back to life with help (and special thanks!) from 501 Automotive in Longview, Texas. A RetroSound radio has been added as well as a modern and updated Borgeson steering box to help with long trips and tight turns. The original numbers matching Quadrajet was gone through and put back to OEM specs by Cliff Ruggles at Cliff’s High Performance and after replacing the choke it starts up as quickly and easily every time as a modern fuel injected vehicle. Other than that the truck is as delivered from the factory over 50 years ago right down to the original carpet.
My wife and I look forward to many years of enjoyment with this truck and drive and enjoy it as often as we can. Although the Chevelle has been sold (to a much younger car enthusiast on the West coast) this truck will be in our family for a long time to come and is not for sale.