Buy, Sell Or Hold
I'm stuck between a big-block and a hard place. I own a 2001 Chevy C3500 Crew Cab dualie with the 8.1-liter gas V-8 and the Allison automatic transmission. It has the standard 4.10:1 rear gear ratio. Needless to say, it doesn't win any fuel economy contests. The truck is paid for and in excellent condition. I haven't been driving it much since gas went over the $4.00 a gallon mark. I originally bought the truck to tow an enclosed car trailer.

I sold my racecar and trailer a couple years ago, but I thought I would get another racer and I really like my truck so I kept it. My problem is that the market for big-block dualie Crew Cab pickups is very soft. I don't use the truck much and I'm not sure of my future plans, but as I said, my goal is to get another racecar.

My dilemma is whether I should sell my truck at a giveaway price or keep it for towing and find out that prices get even worse. Gas is under $2.00 per gallon as I write this letter, but I don't feel very confident about prices staying low.

Can you give me your insight on where you think the big truck market is going and whether I should sell my truck or keep it? I would appreciate your input. Thanks.
Shawn Steeb
Via Email

The big pickup/SUV market has many parallels to the stock and housing markets. There are so many negative factors in play that it's difficult to make accurate predictions, but we'll give it a try.

Since your truck is paid for and you like it, we say keep it. That is unless you need the money. Like the stock and housing markets, the best time to sell something is before the market changes direction. Sell while things are still going up. A good time would have been during one of the earliest price retreats when gas first headed toward $2.00. That oil tanker sailed a long time ago, so now you're dealing with a used truck market that's saturated with big, thirsty trucks and SUVs along with potential buyers who are having difficulty getting loans. The general economic climate has put many buyers (for all kinds of products) in a "wait-and-see" mode.

We think the whole economy/gas prices/home equity/credit crunch/auto manufacturers woes/etc. situation will eventually find a collective compromise where people make the necessary adjustments and get on with life. In that regard, we think people will want to continue their hobbies, travel more, upgrade their homes, and do other activities that require trucks with above average hauling/towing capabilities. That scenario could easily increase the demand for trucks like yours.

Bailing on your truck now is like cashing out your 401K retirement plan. Yes, the plan's value has taken a big hit, but stocks have traditionally bounced back and performed well over the long haul. If you abandon the market, you don't have the opportunity to participate in the rebound.

Using the terms of stock analysts, we think now is an excellent time to buy a big truck, hold if you already own one, and not a good time to sell. Like stocks, if you're buying a big truck, buy the blue chips. In other words, buy the best possible truck since relatively speaking they're the best values.

Slump Shouldered
The shoulder harness in my '85 El Camino doesn't like to retract like it used to. Now I have to constantly tug on it to keep it taut. Sometimes when I go to get out, the buckle bangs against the doorsill because it didn't retract. Is there a way to fix the retractor?
Lane Stewart
Via Email

Seat belts and their related parts aren't something to tinker with. You should either buy a new GM setup or check out an aftermarket company to see if they have a system that costs less than an OEM one. A company that specializes in interior components including seat belts is Juliano's Hot Rod Parts, [(800) 300-1932, www.julianos.com]. Another place to check is Wise Guys Seats & Accessories, [(866) 494-7348, www.wiseguys-seats.com].

Up Or Down?
Sometimes your cover trucks confuse me. One month it's a super-slammed ground scraper, and the next month it's a skyscraper. What gives? Are you guys a custom-truck magazine or a 4x4 mag? I vote for sticking with the low trucks and the classic '60s and '70s trucks. Where I live it's no longer cool to cruise around in a jacked-up Hummer, but no one has flipped me off in my '87 Silverado.
Loren Rushmier
Via Email

We are here to cover the trends, not make them, Loren. When the lifted truck craze took off again, we had to give it credit in ST. Now that the trend of owning an inefficient monster truck has cooled off, you'll be seeing a lot more lowered rides in ST again. We're a magazine about modified trucks of all types and suspension systems. If it's modified and looks cool, we're fine with it. We've sensed some hostility toward the largest SUVs, too. This gets back to the old perception versus reality thing. There are plenty of exotic European supercars that get terrible gas mileage, but you don't hear about people protesting them. Fortunately, most successful rappers have several each of monster SUVs and exotic Italian rides.

On the plus side of the whole Hummer issue, you can stroll into a Hummer dealership and get a killer deal. If you've got decent credit, GM would probably sell you the whole brand.

Wreck 'N' Roll
I loved your coverage of the GoodGuys Southern Nationals in the January 2009 issue. That chopped, channeled, and sectioned rat wrecker on page 103 blew me away. It's great to see something truly unique that didn't require a second mortgage. I also liked that yellow Corvair Rampside pickup. You should do a special section on alternative trucks or at least those two trucks.
Ted Dornbacher
Via Email

The best part about this magazine is the wide variety of trucks it covers. That wrecker and the Rampside truck are great examples of what keeps this hobby fresh and exciting. We have Mike Slade to thank for showing everyone that not everybody builds contemporary trucks.

Air Bags
Your October 2008 issue was great. I really liked the mix of trucks and the low-budget stuff along with the more expensive stuff. Both the cover truck and the cover model were outstanding. The 411 column said that the truck was sporting Air Ride Technologies bags, but it didn't specify Elizabeth Ashley's brand. Hey, but seriously, the story stated that the slick air cleaner/air intake was hand-formed, so how did they do that? Is it something I could do in my garage? Keep up the good work.
Perry Steen
Via Email

We're too polite to ask models those kinds of questions. By hand-formed we didn't mean that someone with Vise Grips for hands bent the tubing. The intake was custom-made as opposed to being an off-the-shelf item.

You could come up with a similar intake if you could find a friendly muffler shop that was willing to bend some tubing to suit your needs. Since the tubing is only moving fresh incoming air, it doesn't have to be very thick-wall tubing. The key to making such a system easily is to make a pattern for the bends.

Take some relatively stiff wire (something similar to welding rod) and hand bend it to clear the valve covers, accessory items, and radiator. The radiator support panel is a good place for the air inlets.

For the actual air cleaner the easy solution here is to buy a replica '50s Cadillac/Olds street rod air cleaner. This universal-fit air cleaner has "scoops" on each side that should match up to the bent tubing. There are fiberglass versions, but you'll obviously need one of the all- steel air cleaners.

When you have a rigid template wire, a muffler shop can use it to bend a length of tubing. We'd do one side first and trial-fit it. The muffler shop can make minor adjustments. Get the tubing extra long so you can shorten the ends to fit. After you have bent the tubing, all that's left is welding, finish work, and paint.

Got Something To Say?
Email your letters to mike.finnegan@sorc.com, or send them to: Sport Truck Mail, 2400 E. Katella Ave, Suite 1100, Anaheim, CA 92806.