Shoehorn Chevy
Hey, did only short people buy pickups in the '60s and '70s? I was born in the 80s, but I love '67-'72 Chevy/GMC 1/2-ton pickups. The reason I ask about height is because I'm 6 feet 6 inches tall and it's a real squeeze to drive my 72 C10. Can you suggest anything could do to give me a little more legroom? Thanks.
Nick Reid
via e-mail

Yes, it seems like people have gotten progressively taller, but it wasn't just short bods that bought shortbeds in the '60s and '70s. Maybe people whined less back then. No one complained if a work truck didn't have power everything, heated leather seats, air conditioning, a DVD player, and a sunroof.

Personally, we blame the cereal companies. Our son ate little else besides various sugarcoated cereals while he was growing. He finally topped out at 6' 8". He's never asked to borrow the keys to our C10, but he did drive a regular-cab S-10. We never saw how he got in and out, but he drove it to school everyday.

There are several things you can do to maximize legroom. The first thing is to relocate the gas tank. Get a custom-made under-bed tank from Brotherstrucks.com, or adapt one from a similar-year Suburban. Ditching the gas tank allows the seatback to hug the back of the cab.

A tilt steering wheel will give you the most possible thigh room. Either find a GM tilt wheel, or better yet, buy a new aftermarket repro tilt column from companies such as Flaming River [(800) 281-1319, www.flamingriver.com]. A smaller-diameter aftermarket steering wheel will also add thigh room.

A thinner seatback will maximize legroom. You could use a '90s Silverado bench (or split bench) seat. This is a popular swap for '67-'72 Chevy pickups. You could tuck the top cushion underneath the rear window (the area originally occupied by the gas tank), but that would necessitate a super-short upper cushion. Your shoulders and head would be against the rear window.

A compromise solution would be to have a custom rear bolster built. Make one that is thicker at the bottom (so it provides lower-back support and uses some of the former gas-tank space) and thinner at the top. The flared part of the cushion would be on the backside, and the front would be uniformlooking.

We don't know if your height is more legs or torso. If your legs are longer, you can gain some extra comfort by raising the seat. That's the basic design of minivan front seats.

You could have a totally custom seat built using thin, high-density foam. By using thin foam you can get the upper cushion as far back as possible and raise the lower cushion. With a custom seat, you can also experiment with cushion angles to achieve maximum room and comfort.

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