Jim's engine choice may seem odd if you're not old enough to remember the impact Oldsmobile and Cadillac made by introducing the first of the mass-produced overhead-valve V-8s. "It's kind of old school," Jim explained. "Back in my day it was always, `What you got in it?' Well, I got an Olds. No matter what brand of car it was, an Oldsmobile engine was the one to have in it."

Admittedly the '70s-vintage 350 is a different series than the 303-394s the company made throughout the '50s and early '60s. But Jim's reasons go back to his objective of a driver, and parts availability in far-flung places goes a long way to comfort, even if only for peace of mind in far-flung places.

That pragmatism threads its way through the entire truck. Ford F-100 frames are both strong and versatile, so Laurie kept it, however, instead of clipping it with an obsolete suspension he employed a Total Cost Involved crossmember. It uses tubular control arms and Air Ride Technologies air springs, but everything that bolts to it is OEM: Chrysler ball joints, Fox-body Mustang power steering rack, midsize Ford brake rotors, and midsize GM calipers. Even the hard and soft brake lines that feed them came from the local parts store.

Laurie kept the 9-inch axle and its stock internals, but since the plan called for air springs he dispensed with the parallel-leaf system. In its place is a complete Air Ride Technologies Air4Link, the company's parallel four-link/Panhard-bar system designed to work specifically with its springs.

"At first I wanted stock outside, but with an automatic transmission, the Olds, and a 9-inch rearend," Jim summarized. "I wanted it so I could get in it and take it to California with no problems."

Thus far Laurie's driven probably the most road time in the pickup. "I've put on maybe 200,000 miles," Jim speculates. "I'm waiting for the weather to get a little bit warmer. And then I'm going to get going."