A Story of Classic Iron
Since his youth, Clay Croghan has had a love for old trucks. His appreciation of these classics in iron goes back to age 14, while driving his Dad’s 1959 Apache pickup. The truck had a 327 V8 from a Corvette and set of fat tires-wheels that gave it a great look. Clay drove his Dad’s truck back and forth to school and has fond memories of the old hauler.
When the opportunity to buy one came along, Clay knew he had to have it. Purchased from a Classic Vehicle dealership in Portland, Oregon, the old truck was in great condition. Clay says “Most of the dirty work was all ready done….like the paint & body”. Since the truck had been restored to almost stock condition, Clay felt the truck would be a great example to customize.
Like the truck Clay’s father had owned, a 1969 327 V-8 had been substituted for the original power plant.
The engine has Edelbrock 4 barrel carburetor and engine dress up kit. Now it would be time for Clay to make a few changes of his own.
Employed by a local Specialty Aftermarket Automotive Parts Warehouse, Clay had a wealth of experience and outstanding opportunities available to him for making his vision come true. Clay was able to tap into manufacture representatives and other fellow workers for information on newer products for his project.
The first things to go were the OEM spring packs in place of a full set of Mono-Leafs with Gas Shocks. This lowered the truck some for a super look and provided a much softer ride.
Next went the old OEM rear end with low ratio, which was turned 3200 RPM at 60MPH Clay located a late model 10 bolt GM rear end with a 3:70 ratio that brought the RPM’s back down into the “cruising” range.
The soft ride of the Mono-Leafs, the new rear end, and the power of the 327 were causing some axle wrap on acceleration and a general squishy feeling in the rear end. A set of specialized traction bars firmed things back up for a real stable ride.
Next to go was the manual 4 speed transmission. “Stir’n-a-Stick” in traffic was not Clay’s idea of cruising, so the 4 speed lost its space to a GM TH350 automatic with a B&M Shift Package. Now the old hauler glides through gear changes on its own.
With a little help from one of Clay’s work contacts, he replaced the stock, point type ignition system with a Pro-Billet electronic distributor. A MSD 6A spark box passed the juice down through a set of MSD 8.5 MM wire for a remarkable improvement in engine performance.
Inside, Clay wanted to upgrade the interior to a more modern look without losing to much of the old style that he liked, so an OEM looking loop carpet set with matching floor mats was installed.
A Grant leather steering wheel, chrome pull knobs, Lokar pedals & shifter, and billet aluminum door knobs were added. This gave the inside a newer rod look that was in keeping with the rest of the trucks look.
Clay’s desire was to keep the original dash and not cut it up (by the way the original AM radio still works) so he installed an under-seat AM/FM/CD player for a much more enjoyable listening experience.
Recently, Clay added a new set of Radial tires and Chrome Corvette style Rally wheels and has plans to add new polished stainless bed rails and a few other touches this summer. In the future, Clay is planning on installing a new IFS suspension for better handling and stopping. Not that the truck really needs it, he says the truck is “…pretty good as it is now”.
Clay has help from his son who calls the old truck “BETSY BLUE”. Clay says, “Maybe some day he'll take an interest in old trucks like me and can take her to a new level”. - CTS