I would like to introduce you to Big Red. Originally my grandfathers, then for a brief time mine, and now belonging to my son. Its been in the family her entire life. I rode in this truck for so much of my young life. Usually with grandpa driving, and my dad on the other side of me.
My goal was to have it all restored and running by sons’ 16th birthday. Well she is running, and he will be 19 in a month. Time gets away from us. originally a 242 straight 6 with 3 spd manual on the column, she is now a 345 V-8 with a t-98 4spd. My son has helped all along the way as you can see in the photos.
Deciding where to start a story is always hard. The correct answer is from the beginning. When my grandparents moved out of their home, after the last load was moved, my grandfather gave me the keys to the pickup. Once of the happiest moments in my life. The ownership was short lived. It wasnt too long after, on a visit for one of the kids birthdays, that my grandfather told my son the truck is his now. I think Carl was only 10 at the time. Thus the adventure began.
The plan, ask me to tell you about how my planning goes sometime, was always to keep her original. Sure, we would fix things, and do some minor upgrades, but always keep her original. Well we finally got around to getting her out the year he turned 16, just in time too. However, that wonderful happy occasion was balanced, with the passing of grandpa, 2 days later.
I had always told my mother, that I would take grandpa on his final ride when he passed. She laughed and thought that truck will never run. She passed that information to the funeral director. He was shocked and worried. Carl and I worked 2 days and nights, and on the Saturday of the funeral, decked out in our suits and ties, we climbed into Big Reds Cab.
She must have stalled about 20 times on the 5 mile trip to the funeral home. I even managed to break the key off in the ignition, but we kept going. Maybe she didn’t want to go. But go we did. Carl talked to her the whole way, encouraging her, and between that and my will, we arrived at the funeral home.
Many relatives were already gathered outside socializing. They all recognized grandpas truck as she pulled up to the curb. My mother was shocked that I actually made it, the funeral director was nervous. However, Big Red had done her duty and showed up to pay her respect. Grandpa would have to have his last ride in a Cadillac.
We drove her home after the services and begin to take her engine apart. The plan, there is that word again, was to rebuild the motor. Carl and I got the old motor and transmission out and then took it to my friend that owns a machine shop. The news was not good. Her bores were bad, at least .060 over would be needed, and we would have to either have pistons specially made, or have some very good luck finding some new ones.
We loaded the engine back up and brought it back to regroup. After much thought and research we decided to look for a international v-8 for her. Craigslist would offer up a gem. In Modesto we found a 345 v8, already rebuilt and complete, along with a 4 speed manual transmission. A trip was made and a deal was struck .