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Chevy LUV Prerunner Budget Build.

I saved this 1980 Chevy LUV 4x4 out of a junk yard got it cheap. As the tittle says I plan to build it into a prerunner, I know with doing this to expect basically zero parts support but that's ok I want the challenge. This will also be my first prerunner build. However I do have a fair amount of my own tools like a lincon 225 MP welder not perfect but does good, tubing bender, cold cut saw, torch and so on. Also as tittle says this truck will be on a very small budget. I am working going to school full time and just bought a house that is out of date that I am working on all at the same time. Call me nuts and I wouldn't blame you but all those are have todo's not wants I want to build this little truck. I am going to school to be a Mechanical Engineer. I see this as testing engineering to the max. I have built this 2004 Avalanche and the LUV I plan to leave faded paint for a while. Plans consist of a roll bar that connects to shock hoops and a front roll cage. Connecting all four shock hoops or towers. I plan to put a LS1 out of the Avalanche in it. I also want to keep it a manual because this will be my DD and believe it or not building it to get better MPG then the Avalanche. I'm not talking 30mpg but 18ish is the goal. Some day put turbos on it! However for now keep it pretty mild so like 31's or 33's max! Then the LS1 in there and I want to keep it 4wd because it is the DD and I live in Montana also have family in Denver and would like to be able to drive it from bozo to Denver. I just want a good suspension under it. If I am going to have to fab all the mounts for the new parts anyway might as well build it for that. I want to put coil overs front and rear on it basically build everything so that I can just take the drawings when I get out of school and make good money I can just lengthen all the drawings a foot or whatever to get lots of travel out of it. I want to still be able to haul dirtbikes in the back. So later in life I see that as a C channel but for now just plan on leaving bed fairly in tacked. So some questions for the more experienced! What transmission bolts up to a SBC that is a maual and capable of having a transfer case bolt up to it? Needs to be probably a 3/4ton size. Also whats a good shock strut coil over so on set up for cheap. I'm not racing it. I was seeing some good options for vw bugs and so on. I think I might use the chevy luv 10 bolt for a bit I found a company making front fiberglass fenders and hoods. I found a set of Chevy Corporate 14 bolt axles for sale whats the difference in those vs the normal 14 bolt? How much are they worth?

Thanks all!
Dakota

Apologies if I posted in the wrong section.
 
This is the Avalanche


Here are some of the LUV and where I found it.







The seats were not bolted down......


The new leather seat. 3rd row out of a suburban I can fold it down and lift the leaver like you would in the suburban to take it out.
 
I bought headlights for it also LED ones of a JK their knock offs but work GREAT!




Also they have DRL's and built in turn signals so when I do my prerunner bumper it wont need turn signals in it.

 
Goals for the truck!
1. Buy it, get it running with factory gear, make streat legal. (Done waiting on tittle to plate it)
2. Make it nice to ride in such as: Leather seat, radio, sound detoning. (colleted all the parts)
3. Put in LS1 and drivetrain. Build cage and hoops. (dreaming about this stage and planning for now.
4. Race seats Full cage
5. Make it Haul!!!!!
6. Enter in a race.
 
Back in the 80s a lot of us used the 4wd Luv to prerun with. It was real simple, Johnny Johnson made a dual shock setup for the front that worked awesome. They worked great, had good balance.
I would not use one for what your talking about but if you leave it fairly stock and do a simple dual shock setup on the front they work pretty good.
 
Back in the 80s a lot of us used the 4wd Luv to prerun with. It was real simple, Johnny Johnson made a dual shock setup for the front that worked awesome. They worked great, had good balance.
I would not use one for what your talking about but if you leave it fairly stock and do a simple dual shock setup on the front they work pretty good.
I want to put the LS1 in it so if nothing else on cold mornings it starts easy and then it can do interstate speeds I have found a sm465 4speed manual transmission and a 205 transfer case that I am working on a deal with the fella about. Also found some new brake lights for it and dash. I don't plan to go anything crazy or do anything crazy. I want the ls in there and then just some good coil overs front and rear. Just to loose the torsion bars so do you have any suggestions for those for this little truck? Could I make some VW ones work?
 

retroblazer

Well-Known Member
Great find on the bench seat. My local upholstery shop told me they wanted $400 to recover and pad my 1986 Toyota farm truck. I'll have to measure my width, but it would be a good starting point. My stock seat has a notch in the middle to clear the shifter.
Not to be negative on racing your Luv, because almost any series will find a class to put you in, like Sportsman if you build your to their standards. They want your entry fee. And good for them. But, after you put all of your time and money, into what will be a cool truck, it will be hard to enter an event knowing that there is a good chance you will roll it, or someone will bang into you in the dust. The Vintage Class in BITD is one of the few that is a "no nerf/ hit class, but most others you will be taking that chance. I understand the racing bug, as it has afflicted me for the past 42 years, so my worthless advise is to build it as a prerunner, with a race legal cage. The extra money that it will take to buy safety equipment and race gear could be invested in the truck. A well built prerunner retains a lot more value than a one off race car.
 
Great find on the bench seat. My local upholstery shop told me they wanted $400 to recover and pad my 1986 Toyota farm truck. I'll have to measure my width, but it would be a good starting point. My stock seat has a notch in the middle to clear the shifter.
Not to be negative on racing your Luv, because almost any series will find a class to put you in, like Sportsman if you build your to their standards. They want your entry fee. And good for them. But, after you put all of your time and money, into what will be a cool truck, it will be hard to enter an event knowing that there is a good chance you will roll it, or someone will bang into you in the dust. The Vintage Class in BITD is one of the few that is a "no nerf/ hit class, but most others you will be taking that chance. I understand the racing bug, as it has afflicted me for the past 42 years, so my worthless advise is to build it as a prerunner, with a race legal cage. The extra money that it will take to buy safety equipment and race gear could be invested in the truck. A well built prerunner retains a lot more value than a one off race car.
I don't know if it will ever get to full race status and get todo that I hope to enter a car some day. However at the moment putting myself through school and It will stay pretty mild. I want todo some cheaper coil overs like from a bug or so on. However the main purpose for the truck is to drive back and forth to school and haul bikes up riding It will get better MPG then the avalanche and be easier to load them in. So It will be to tool around in in the desert though I ride dirtbikes and fourwheelers and had some off road buggies yet to actually drive a car in the desert so it is basically all a learning curve. Pushing my limits on what I can build to learn to build it better and I think they are cool looking trucks but I have never been one to build the same type of car as everyone else it forces me to challenge myself and push what I can do. Like no matter how good of jeep you build there is always going to be one guy with bigger axles or a nicer locker. So as far as it goes as a full race rig maybe some day in a slower class like you said classic or less modified class. But mostly for now it will be my 4wd DD little bit of a sleeper too old faded luv with a 350 in it should get up and go pretty good! Like I said mostly just found a mini truck I think looks cool and testing what I can do. If I know I can swap a new LS with a computer into a old 80's truck then build it into a prerunner that has next to no parts support what could limit you on any other project? In school I'm double majoring in ME and MET because I want to own a shop some day building good race trucks and bolt up race parts as well.
 
So I got a question. How do I know what size heim joints to use? Everyone talks about "Good geometry" What makes good geometry? I want to make sure I have a safe truck to drive on the highway and so on as well.
Also building roll bar out of 2" tube what wall size should I be using? I got the front end all tore apart and ready to start playing with.



 

Mark Newhan

Well-Known Member
By chance do you have any pictures of this LUV? what did you do with the incredibly short A arms?

No pictures... back then most race trucks used stock suspension plated and gusseted. We didn't have much wheel travel, but the bumps weren't that big either. The shocks we used weren't more than you can by at Any auto parts stores. It was still fun though.
 

Josh 8

Well-Known Member
The cheapest and best way to build a custom front end for off-road use is swap in some ranger or f150 beams into the truck. Beams are strong. They give lots of travel and are easy to mount a shock on.

If you want the steering to be 100% correct it is going to take some time and be difficult. But if all you need it do is steer then fab up a simple one rocker cross over steering system. Or even simpler would be to make the stock Ford tie rods fit.

The one rocker system uses a tie rod that runs for the pitman arm (steering box) to the opposite nuckel (tire). Then off the pitman arm, at say the 1/2 way point a link rod cross from one side of the truck the other at about the same location on the opposite side as the steering box. This link attaches to the rocker (the one and only rocker) at about the 1/2 way point. Then building the rocker the same length as the pitman arm below the crossover link add a secound steering tie rod that runs from this rocker (one and only rocker) on the right side of the truck to the nuckel in the left side.

By keeping the rocker length the same as pitman arm, you will actually correct the loss of movement that the center tie rod loses when it is attached to the pitman arm at the rocker with the ratio gain. Thus moving the tires the same.

What I described is a basic one rocker cross over steering. It will have bad geometry for street driving but would do well in the dirt or sand because there is less traction to effect the tire scrubbing that will accrue when turning. Keep in mind I am pointing out a basic and cheap system that will work well. Or if this it too space age and complex just wedge the stock Ford system in.

Either way if you get in there and to do this, upgrade the steering box to something that came out of a one ton chevy truck. You don't need the steering braking. Furthermore, think real roll bars that are mounted off the frame that protect everything above your shoulders too.

When bad things happen they happen fast.
 

NWGuy

Active Member
For a DD , pay attention to Ackerman while doing your front end design. Good luck. It sounds like you have lots of youthful energy.:)
 
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