Advice From The Field
Hey guys, love the magazine! This letter is in response to the Cross Pollination letter you had in the July '04 issue. Yes, you can use that front end or the front end from a '72-'87 4X2. Also, the tilt column will work if he can find one. When I was in the military, a friend had a '70 C-10 and we used the front end off a '74 pickup and snatched a tilt column out of a van. You gotta love Chevy for using so many of the same parts!

The second part of this is about the 305 Overbored letter, also in the July '04 issue. I just went through all this with my '77 C-10. I bought it for $500 and drove the hell out of it for a year and a half. But then the cam went flat, so it needed to be rebuilt. The best bet if you want a 350 four-bolt main is to grab a Jeg's catalog and order a GM Goodwrench 350 crate motor. I couldn't be happier: The parts and machinework alone would have coast me nearly as much as the crate motor did. I added an Edelbrock intake with one of Edelbrock's Q-Jets topped with a K&N air cleaner. The truck runs an Edelbrock 3-inch single muffler and I get about 18 mpg on average - and that's in the hills of Arkansas! Thanks, and I hope I could help my fellow enthusiast save some extra cash to spend on a card and flowers to keep the little lady happy.
James Dismore
Mtn. Home Ark.

Honestly folks, we don't make this stuff up. Some of the letters we get are too good to even edit. James does bring up some good points, especially concerning crate motors. At nearly the same cost of machining an old, tired engine, by adding new parts - such as a crank, piston, and rods - and reassembling it, you can have a pretty decent crate motor. Both Jegs and GM Performance Parts offer a whole host of choices to choose from, starting with a budget small-block right up to the fire-breathing 572 big-block. The motors all have the right internals, and you can even offset some of the cost by selling your old motor to a rebuilder as a core.

Unsafe At Any Speed?
Why do you guys run layouts of unsafe or dangerous vehicles? What I am specifically referring to are vehicles that have had their safety equipment removed. By safety equipment, I'm referring to seatbelts and airbags.

In the June '04 issue, I noticed two different vehicles (Migraine and Team Grandma), one with the airbag removed and one with the rear seatbelts removed. I thought this was a trend reserved for the sport compact market and their magazines, not the sport truck market. These builders and owners are going to be in for a rude awakening if they are ever stopped for a safety inspection, involved in an accident, or trade these vehicles in.

A good friend of mine learned this the hard way. After removing the airbags on his '01 Dakota R/T, in favor of a custom wheel, and adding a mounting location for an X-box, he was involved in an accident that was not his fault. During the accident investigation, the police charged him with unlawful removal of vehicle safety equipment, and then his insurance company dropped him after their adjuster noticed this on the report and in his own review of the vehicle. This was not a serious accident, either: There were no injuries, and his truck was repairable. The other party's insurance company reduced by 50 percent the amount they were willing to pay out for the damage to the vehicle.

People may think these touches are great, but at what price? For years, the 4x4 magazines have refused to show vehicles with unsafe or dangerous lift kits or missing seatbelts, how about taking the same stance?
Eric Powers
Thornton, Colorado

Your point is well taken, but let's clarify the issue a bit more. Many of the vehicles we feature in the magazine are show trucks that are trailered to the event we found them at. If they are driven at all, it is just the short distance to the photo location. For the most part, full-on customs are just that: show vehicles that are not meant to be daily drivers. Most owners of these trucks remove the airbag steering wheels to replace them with aftermarket units. And in some states, by the letter of the law, that is considered illegal. Your friend's accident is the unfortunate consequence of when things go wrong.

In no way, shape, or form does the magazine encourage the removal of safety equipment for exactly the reasons you described. On the other hand, we try to pick the coolest trucks to show readers, and occasionally, an owner of one of these vehicles has made the conscious decision to remove equipment from his vehicle. Does that make the vehicle any less featureable in the magazine? No. The consequences of removing safety equipment falls squarely on the shoulders of the truck owner who is doing so. We do not advocate such practices, nor do we show how to do it in the magazine. But just because the owner of a vehicle has decided to modify his vehicle in an unsafe manner, doesn't necessarily mean the truck is not cool enough to be featured.

Pimp My Ride
I just got my '89 Buick Skyhawk running again. It's a four-banger and runs like a champ. I was wondering what, if anything, I could do to pimp out my ride. I'm going to put in a CD player since the first owner put in custom speakers. I'm not sure if I should drive it for a couple of months then sell it for a cooler ride or if I could pimp it out and drive it. Thanks for all your help.
Pat Sowders
Loveland, Colorado

Hello?! This is a truck magazine! Have you ever seen any Buick Skyhawks in here - ever? Step away from the MTV. Our vote is for you to dump the Skyhawk and buy yourself a nice Chevy S-10 or Ranger. Then you would have a magazine in hand that has pictures of the same type of vehicle you own. And the magazine would be loaded with all types of parts and customizing ideas for your truck, not a Buick.

Super Chicken Ranger Swap
I have a '94 Ranger extended-cab pickup that I want to do a motor swap on. The truck currently has the 4.0L V-6 with the automatic transmission. I have access to a '90 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe with the supercharged 3.8L V-6 that I want to use. A V-8 swap is not an option for me. The supercharged V-6 makes plenty of power and torque and would get good gas mileage if I kept my foot out of it. I have several questions about the swap. Will this work in a Ranger? I know I will have to use the Thunderbird EEV-IV computer, wiring harness, mass airflow meter, and such, but will the gauge cluster plug into the Ranger setup and work? What about motor mounts, fuel pump, transmission, and so on? Any help would be appreciated.
Thomas Arrowood
Landrum, South Carolina

We have to hand it to you for looking at the V-8 alternative with the Super Chicken motor idea. However, we'd still opt for a late-model Mustang 5.0L V-8 swap with either the automatic or the Mustang T-5 manual. It fits, it's clean, and it makes gobs of power. Several companies, including Advance Adapters in Paso Robles, California, have ready-made swap kits for this setup. If you're dead set on using the Super Coupe setup, we suggest you get the whole thing: engine, transmission, wiring harness, computer, mass airflow meter, and so on. Since you're doing a custom Ranger, why not grab the dash cluster from the T-bird so you know it will be a plug-and-play swap? Unfortunately, our resident Ford expert indicates that the supercharged 3.8L is actually wider than the 5.0L V-8 in that it's a 60-degree motor and you'll have heater box interference and some frame clearance issues. Also, this swap will require handbuilt headers, and there's some doubt about hood clearance with the blower. Another option is the new 4.0L V-6, which is an overhead cam engine, found in the later-model Rangers. This engine makes approximately 210 hp in stock form. Explorer Express [127 Bell Ln., Napa, CA 94558, (707) 252-3283] markets a roots-style supercharger for this engine that will bring the horsepower up to around 300 with a bolt-on blower.

Ranger Blower Info
In the April issue, you had an article about a Ford Ranger with a 3.0L supercharged engine and a five-speed automatic. I also own an '03 Ranger Edge with the same powertrain and am interested in learning about the Ford Racing supercharger for the 3.0L V-6. I already have added dual exhausts to the truck, in addition to a full audio system and new rims. Please tell me how to get my hands on a supercharger and a set of headers for my truck. Your mag helps us all out over here.
Spc. Jason McGraw
Iraq

First off, we'd like to thank you and your fellow service men and women for putting it all on the line defending our freedom in Iraq. If you have access to the Web over there in Iraq, check www.fordracingparts.com and check out part number M-6066-R30P. It will set you back about $3,000, but you can't beat the power of a roots-style supercharger that's a bolt-on for your truck. We also understand Whipple Industries in Fresno, California, has developed its own kit for the 3.0L Vulcan powerplant. On Whipple's Web site (www.whipplesuperchargers.com), the company lists a supercharger that boosts flywheel horsepower by 80 on the 3.0L V-6.

Pain in the Gas
I am in the market for a computer chip to upgrade the performance of my '94 Chevrolet C-1500 pickup. With the rising price of gas these days, I still want to run on 87 octane, as my main goal is top speed. Could you refer me to companies that could provide such a product as a custom chip that's CARB-legal?
John Ferreira
Chatsworth, California

First off, you didn't tell us much about your truck other that what year it is. What size engine does it have? How many miles do you have on the powertrain? Are there any other modifications? Due to the fact that most people use their trucks on a daily basis and don't want to shell out the extra money for premium fuel - unless, of course, they have a supercharger - especially if the truck barely gets 10-14 mpg, a lot of electronic tuners have recognized the need for performance tuning on 87 octane. Hypertech, and others, already offers such options in the handheld programmers for the later-model trucks. Check with Hypertech, Granatelli, JET Performance, and other tuners and chip makers advertising in this magazine to see if they have an off-the-shelf chip for your truck that is tuned for 87 octane. Hopefully, you have performed other upgrades, such as intake and exhaust, to take full advantage of a performance tune.