I found a cheap 1968 C series pickup on Marketplace, so I took a chance and drove three hours in beautiful fall sunshine to look at it this morning. Having talked to the owner, he didn’t know much about it other than the pictures provided. They showed a 2WD in original Bahama blue, with a floor-shifted manual behind a V8 of some unspecified size. It had a full-length bed, something I like. There was visible rust on the cowl seam and along the side of the bed; this seems to be common with this model. The glass looked to be intact, and the interior of the cab was in decent shape from what I could tell. The camper shell on the back may or may not have saved it from pooling water and rust. The big questions I had were:

  • What engine is in it, and does it turn?
  • How are the cowl vent assemblies (the achilles heel of this series)?
  • Does it have power steering or power brakes?
  • What shape are the front brakes in? (are they the dreaded Lockheed brakes whose parts are impossible to find?)
  • Which carb does it have?

The drive up was uneventful, but got off to a bad start; I’d told Google to avoid tolls but it immediately pointed me at the Harbor Tunnel; I reconfigured and made it up there by 11AM.

In person, the truck was in worse shape than the photos (big surprise). The rust was worse than the pictures let on all the way around.

I figured what I’d do is check the cowl vents first and if they were toasty I’d write off the truck—in order to repair this, you have to pull the windshield, drill out the welds on the cowl, and then do a bunch of surgery to replace metal.

I put the borescope down the driver’s side and found the cavity full with a mouse nest; the passenger side was rusted through in several places. So that was bad. What was worse were all the places the PO had sprayed foam insulation, which is essentially a death sentence for metal. It was behind the front fender, inside the cowl seam, under the dashboard, inside the rear fenders, and a bunch of other places I couldn’t see.

The doors were almost perfect, and the bed floor was in excellent shape due to the cap, but someone had rear-ended the truck and damaged both rear endcaps.

The engine was probably a 304 or larger, due to this truck being spec’d as a Camper Special, but the fan didn’t turn—not a good sign after sitting for 25 years; the last inspection sticker read 1997. It also had factory power steering, which was somewhat rare for a pickup of this vintage.

With all of the faults, I decided to walk away. I’m itching to find a new project, but I really want to be smart about it and move on the right one. This was just too much to tackle too far away; if it was local I’d have offered $1K and brought it home to either tinker with or part out.

Looking at the map, I realized I was only about 20 minutes away from the town I went to elementary school in, so I drove over to look at the old homestead. And from there, I hit the road for home.
Date posted: October 16, 2022 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

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