More Girls
You guys rock! But I bet that the new look of the pinup (Aug '04) is going to get you a lot of hate mail from folks that feel that it's "too much" of the girl. For my two cents, as a subscriber and longtime reader, I like seeing the girls with the trucks. For some reason, this issue always seems to cause a lot of mail, so a few years back I wrote you all to support the fact that you had girls in the magazine and you published my letter - cool! But, after a while, you quit publishing the girls in your magazine - not cool. Then, you brought the girls back. I wrote you all again to send my support and you published my letter - very cool. Now you've given the pinup a new look - very, very cool. I hope you keep it up.
Steve,
San Diego, California

Good news and bad news. The pinup in the August issue created quite some controversy, both internally and externally. Within the company, we kind of got our hand slapped for crossing the taste line, and were reminded we could lose distribution for going too far. Interestingly enough, your letter is the first we've received voicing any kind of opinion. And you're right: The girls-in-the-magazine deal has created a lot of controversy in the past, as far back as 15 years ago in fact, when beautiful women graced nearly every cover of Sport Truck. In reality, magazines such as Stuff and Maxim have raised the bar in terms of the quality of girls on the cover and the impact they have on other newsstand publications that have girls on their covers. Despite what we want to believe, our own statistics don't see a whole lot of difference between girl/no girl covers in terms of newsstand sales. The good news, however, is that both types of covers are selling well, thanks to you guys.

V-6 to V-8 Engine Swap
I have an '01 Chevy pickup with the 4.3L V-6 and wanted to know how complicated it would be to swap it for a 5.3L V-8. I know it will probably cost a lot. Would I need to change the transmission? Would I have to get a new driveshaft? What exactly would I have to change? Would I have to change the computer and wiring harness? Any information that you could give me would be very helpful.
Matt Haynes
via e-mail

We get so many of these letters that we have to wonder if kids don't have anything better to do in study hall than to write letters to magazines about their dream vehicle. But at least they're thinking "more power" because that's our kind of reader. But to answer all your questions, yes. Yes, it will be complicated; yes, you will need a new transmission and driveshaft; and yes, you will need a V-8 computer. GM has done a great job over the years making both V-6- and V-8-powered pickups. They are turn-key trucks. Why not sell your V-6 truck and buy a V-8 truck? By the time you invest the money for parts and the labor to put them in your V-6 truck, you could have bought a fully functional V-8 truck that will give you many years of service.

Loud and Proud
I recently bought a Flowmaster muffler for my '01 Dodge Dakota fitted with the 3.9L V-6. The muffler I chose has a 3-inch inlet and twin 2-1/2-inch outlet pipes. I was told this muffler would be kind of loud and that I would be able to hear it from inside my truck. But when I got in it and heard it, I was disappointed. The truck now has a humming sound. Is this because a 3-inch inlet is too big? What should I put on my truck that would allow people to hear me coming down the road? What should I get to give me the loudest sound I can get out of my truck? I don't care if it makes power or not.
Brandon Lee
via e-mail

News flash: V-6 trucks will never sound like V-8s. Period. Since they have only six cylinders, they make a different sound than V-8 trucks, and to you, it might sound like some sort of humming noise. It is what it is. So, if all you want is loud, then remove the muffler completely and run a straight 3-inch pipe from the back of the catalytic converter to the back of the truck. Then people will really hear you coming - including the police. When the drone inside the truck gets to be too much, and you wise up and want to make a little power with a cool sound, try a single 2-1/2-inch inlet and outlet straight-through muffler with packing behind that V-6. Even an inexpensive glasspack will work and might give you the sound you are looking for.

Chevy Pickup Lean
I hope you can solve a problem with my truck. I have an '02 Chevy Silverado that seems to leaning to one side, the driver side. I first noticed it when I lowered the rear end. So I contacted the folks at Belltech where I got my shackles and they, in turn, told me it was a factory defect. They claim that when they transport the vehicle to the dealer, they torque it down. So I took the truck back to the dealer, and even though the guys there told me it was not a defect, they went ahead and changed the rear leaf spring anyway. Unfortunately, the truck is still leaning. I even took the measurement on the height of the fenders, and one side is higher than the other. I don't know if it's the weight of the fuel or just a weak coil spring, but the front-left side seems to be the worst side. When the folks at the dealer changed the leaf spring, they said they took the measurement and it was off by about 1/4 inch and was within specs. Any suggestion to remedy this problem would be appreciated. Thanks.
F. Harvey,
via e-mail

We've run into this problem before. According to some of our friends at 4 Wheel Parts Wholesale, many of the late-model two-wheel-drive GM trucks do lean on the driver side as much as an inch. The norm is 1/4 to 1/2 inch, so what you're experiencing is common. It's even more noticeable when you lift or lower the truck. The lean problem is in the front end, not the back. As you found out through the dealer, a certain amount of side-to-side measurement discrepancy is deemed "within spec" according to GM. However, Pro Comp has a fix for the lifted applications that ranges from 0.250 to 0.300 inch, depending on the need. It's a coil spring spacer the company uses to level out the truck after its lift kit is installed. Contact Pro Comp at (619) 216-1444 or www.explorerprocomp.com for more information. In theory, you should be able to use the spacer to level out the sagging side of your truck.

History of Sport Truck
Hey, great magazine! I picked up my first issue two years ago and have been an addict ever since. Actually, I am currently working on my Astro van, but what I am writing you for is information about your mag. I am currently in college and in my layout class I have to pick any publication and do a paper and presentation about its history, layout, changes in its layout, and stuff like that. Without any hesitation, I picked your magazine for my paper. So if you guys can help me out by giving me information such as who and how it was founded, I would really appreciate it. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Paul Harmon
via e-mail

You're in luck. Our current editor was on the original staff at Sport Truck back in the early days and has a little information for your history lesson. The magazine was originally launched in 1988 by Petersen Publishing in Los Angeles as a competitor to McMullen Publishing's Truckin' magazine. Initially, the magazine was more of a Motor Trend for trucks and because of that, it had limited sales success. In the early '90s, the company changed staff and recruited a couple of ex-Truckin' employees to rework Sport Truck into more a direct competitor to Truckin'. Under the leadership of publisher Jim Ryan, Editor Hoyt Vandenberg, and Executive Editor Kevin Wilson, the magazine skyrocketed by following the latest craze: sport trucks. The sport truck craze revolved around the redesign of the GM C/K pickup platform in 1988 and the first "sport truck" rolled out of famed hot-rod builder Boyd Coddington's Stanton, California, shop. In essence, a whole industry was formed around one truck and huge mail-order companies, such as Stylin' Concepts and Trader's, sprung up selling parts to create your own sport truck. In its heyday, Sport Truck's circulation reached well over 200,000 and featured celebrities such as Eddie Van Halen on the cover. Today, we are attempting to recreate that magic with the same elements that made the magazine a success in the '90s: killer sport truck features, hard-hitting tech, and wild event coverage.

Hooked on Trucks
I'm a 21-year-old who loves any type of custom car and truck because of all the custom work that goes into them. (I just wouldn't waste my money buying an import). I have a '98 Chevy Blazer that I planned on customizing. I designed my whole project, picked out all the parts and everything, and came up with a very very high price. I quickly changed my mind, however, because along with other bills, it would take too long to save the money.

But after reading countless articles in your magazine, I changed my mind. For example, in the April '04 issue, you have an article about a truck David Rodriguez put together. In the article it says David worked on his truck for more than three years. That's what made me change my mind. If you like it that much and it's something you really want, then it doesn't matter how long it takes you to put together your truck.

So now I'm in the process of customizing my truck. I will be writing back and sending you pictures of the truck when it's all done. Besides all of that, your magazine is great. I love checking out the pages where you have tons of pics of trucks from shows because I like looking at all the different paintjobs. You also show me some of the nicest trucks I have ever seen in my life, and the photos give me great ideas for my own project. So keep up the good work.
Joseph Karlovich
Katonah, New York

It's no secret that magazines are a great source of ideas for project trucks. Going to shows is also another good way to get new ideas, and you can talk to the owners of the trucks to see just how hard it is to accomplish these ideas. Thanks for hanging with us. We promise to give you more ideas for your truck in the future.

Pretty Welds
I had a quick question about something I read in the March '04 issue of your mag, in a tech article about lowering '04 F-150s. The caption under picture #28 says that the welds were worked with a grinder to improve their appearance, but done in a way that won't weaken the weld. I had always heard that any grinding will weaken a weld bead, so I was wondering if you could let me know what I can do to "pretty up" welds with a grinder, without reducing their strength.
Andy Morris
via e-mail

In the picture you are referring, to Casey was grinding the transition of the C-notch. That joint is a right angle, so the strength of the weld lies in the pocket of the joint area that the bead fills. If we were talking about a butt weld, then, yes, grinding it down can, but not always, compromise the strength. You can take a grinder to a bead if you have good penetration, which will look like bluing along the edge of your bead. As long as you grind just the bead that's raised above the surface plane, you should be fine.