You know that old familiar saying, "You don't know what you got till it's gone"? Well, that was exactly how I'd describe the old electrical system on my '53 Chevy pickup. Since the day I purchased her a couple years back, I'd always suspected some fishy things going on with the truck's wiring, but here again another proverbial axiom came into play: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, that's exactly what I did.

Over that two-year period (during which, I drove the truck quite often), I only had one real issue with the wiring. But the failure of the stock Delco starter switch turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Had that not occurred, I may not have become fully aware of the imminent chance of a vehicle fire due to not only faulty wiring, but improperly wired components. The first clue was the fact that the entire 12-volt system had only one 20-amp fuse in use...and it was wrapped in tin foil! If that wasn't a recipe for disaster, then the main power inputs on the back of the gauge cluster with burnt-through connectors definitely were.

Looking back at it now, it's hard not to laugh a bit at the whole situation. At the same time, it's rather eerie thinking "what if," especially during those numerous trips with my toddler son riding shotgun. Thoughts like that do more than make you grateful nothing serious ever happened--they make you ensure it never will happen (at least they should). In my case, I wasted no time tearing every last bit of old wiring from the truck, and furthermore, getting myself the proper wiring kit to replace all that hazardous material.

For the '53, I initially went with American Autowire's Classic Update kit for the '47-54 Chevy 3100. However, once the kit arrived, I soon realized that my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach--in other words, too much harness for my truck's basic needs. Basically, the truck will be retaining its 235 engine; accessories will be limited to future air conditioning, and the factory amenities can be counted on one hand. That meant a pre-wired, multi-circuit panel such as the one supplied with the Classic Update kit would be overkill, so that was swapped out for a more practical Highway 15 Series. With this kit, not only is the actual fuse panel itself physically smaller, it's designed to be wired by the installer; that means instead of feeding all the bulk wire from the panel out to the designated sources, the wiring can be routed in the chassis/body from the sources first. This way, there would be no worrying about deleting a majority of the circuits pre-wired in the panel. For the individual who wants/has power windows, an overdrive transmission, a tilt steering column, and all the creature comforts my truck won't have, the Classic Update kit is definitely the way to go. But for someone like me who just wants to replace an old, decrepit electrical system in an otherwise stock truck, consider the scaled-down Highway Series (which is also available in a 20-circuit kit).