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1979 Chevy Pickup Suspension - Father Knows Best

Choosing And Safety-Prepping A Teenager's First Vehicle

When you raise a son who turns out great in every respect, your mind wrestles with a myriad of legitimate concerns when it comes time to put him in his first vehicle. In this case, we've got a model young man who just turned 15 years old, and knows exactly how many days remain until he's able to drive. He's been raised around world-class street rods, NHRA Championship Drag Racing, and off roading. The family has long been into motorized activities like quad runners, dirt bikes, and even boating. You could say this kid's been a gearhead for about all of his 15 years.

Now, Dad has owned just about every type of Chevy (or GMC) light truck imaginable, sporting each style of cab configuration. His choice for everyday transportation is a late-model Chevy extended cab, though he also owns a crew cab set up for serious towing, as well as a Suburban. The options for "Junior's first ride" were numerous. Early musclecars were considered, as were some late-model varieties, and then, the whole picture became clearer by the day. Every consideration came under scrutiny-overall vehicle safety, initial cost, practicality, ease of maintenance, the all-important "cool factor," and the price of yearly insurance premiums.

Browsing the used-vehicle market, the wise choice turned out to be this '79 Chevy 10-Series pickup, and here's why. The initial cost was $2,500. In Southern California, that's not a bad price for a reasonably clean truck with lots of potential. From the crash-worthy perspective, understand the size of this truck, the fact that it's got a complete chassis (as opposed to today's unibody cars), and realize it'll only cost $1,200 per year to insure with a young driver in the seat. Those are all valid concerns. Here, the family in question is not about to cut corners, or make any compromises whatsoever, in its quest to put this kid in traffic. He's already earned the privilege to drive, and he fully understands (and appreciates) why his folks were totally committed to making the right decisions in his behalf.

Timing had a lot to do with this purchase, as well. Dad wanted to make darn sure there was no rush to freshen it up, and plenty of lead time to ensure that all systems were completely road ready. Having been through a few owners, first on the list was returning it to California smog-legal status. Next, a complete suspension and brake rebuild was sorely needed. After all, a neglected front suspension results in lots of play in the steering wheel, coupled with unnecessary tire wear, and general driveability problems. This thing had to drive (and feel) like a new truck. Again, we stress the importance of timing. Don't wait until the last minute and wind up putting your kid in a vehicle that's not 110-percent road worthy. There's just too much at stake. While the anticipation may drive him crazy, he'll come to appreciate why you took such a methodical approach.

Performance Suspension Technology (Pst)
Parts List
Original performance front-end rebuild kit
G-Max sway bars, front and rear
G-Max 13-inch rotor upgrade
Alu-Max calipers
High-performance brake pads
Spindles
Braided stainless brake hoses
2 1/2-inch dropped front coils
4-inch lowered leaf springs
Rear disc brake conversion kit (with 11 1/4-inch rotors)

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