Knowing when to say when is a tough thing to learn, and once learned, exercising it is even tougher. Mark McDonald grew up around old cars and was fascinated by watching his dad, Mark Sr., build street rods his whole life, which ended up rubbing off on the impressionable lad. Well, to the joy of any gearhead dad, albeit a few years later, his son decided it was time to build his own ride, which would include a little help from the old man, of course.
Mark had the hankering to build a classic truck, but done his way, so he wound up buying a one-owner '69 GMC shortbed he found in his local Porterville, California, newspaper. He initially planned on making a daily driver out of it until he could tear it apart for a full-scale rebuild, but his better judgment told him to leave it alone until he was good and ready to tackle such a project.
Four years later, in '98, the GMC's number was up. Mark took the truck to KRZ Kustoms in Fresno, California, so then owner Jeff Zanders could raise up the front crossmember and steering two inches in an effort to put the pickup on the ground without having to perform a body drop. Stock upper and Chisholm lower control arms bolt to the modified crossmember and hold the Early Classic Enterprises dropped five-lug/disc-brake-conversion spindles and corresponding 11-inch brakes. Jeff also cut the frame off behind the cab and built a new back half that would lower the truck and hold the stock 12-bolt in place by means of a custom three-link and airbag setup. The unique system's third link locates off the back of the rearend, runs forward, and splits in a wishbone fashion, then terminates at each framerail, so really it's somewhere between a three- and a four-link, but we'll stick with the previous.
Mark opted to keep the original 350/400 drivetrain, but he had Shelter Machine Works in Fresno give the stock block a .040-inch overbore before Mark Sr. reassembled it. The guys decided on a set of TRW 10:1 pistons for the otherwise stock bottom end, and they capped off the stock heads with Edelbrock's Performer intake and 650-cfm carb that complements the camshaft of the same manufacture. Even the OEM accessory brackets were kept on the small-block, but they were painted in a dull silver that also covers the '50s Cadillac air cleaner, Billet Specialties valve covers, and other miscellaneous engine bits. Mark Sr. rebuilt the stock Turbo 400 trans and stuffed it with the mandatory B&M shift kit.