Something we always wanted back- Steve and Susie Furtado and their 1977 Chevy Bonanza
Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s in Campbell, CA, Susie and I had a ’77 Chevy short bed that we really liked. We traded it in for a bigger truck to tow a 26 foot travel trailer. We really missed that Chevy.
Fall of 2012 we started looking for another 70’s squarebody. On an internet web site we saw this 1977 Bonanza. The picture looked pretty good and the price seemed very fair and it was a little less than an hour away. December 31, 2012, New Year’s Eve, we looked it over. It was a gloomy, early evening but what we could see looked workable. I drove it home in the rain. It ran fair and everything seemed to work. A/C was blowing cool air, but it was cold out.
On New Year’s Day 2013 it looked a little rougher in the bright, dry daylight. When I started to pock at the rusted areas, I realized that the truck had a lot of fiberglass. The work was very well done, but as fiberglass does, it was starting to bubble.
The truck was built in St. Louis and was delivered to the original owner on April 1, 1977. It lived most of its life in the St Louis area, so it has seen a lot of salted highways. We are the third owners. The second owner lived in Monet, MO, and had it for a very short time.
Peeling away the glass I discovered that every fender edge, front and back, was rusted, as were the inner and outer rocker panels, inside and outside corners of the cab and bottom of the driver’s door. Both doors seemed to have had a couple of mirror changes. This truck turned out to be quite the rust bucket. I now understood why we got it as cheap as we did.
It took almost 4 years to bring it to what is today. A lot of LMC metal as well as other LMC exterior, interior and under the hood parts have gone into its reconstruction. Originally it came with a 350 cu in engine in front of an auto trans, but it is now sporting a 1983 Camaro 305 cu in with HO (High Output) heads and a four barrel carb with a rebuilt auto trans. It also now has factory power windows and door locks. Interior is complete, no seat covers. Susie re-upholstered the seat. We put in new carpeting, re-did the door panels, installed a factory headliner and had the windows tinted. Got a couple of new tires, too, so they all match.
Everything works, including the clock and windshield washers. I converted the A/C to use R134a refrigerant and the radio has been upgraded to an AM/FM with a disk player and a four speaker system.
I am proud to say we did 99% of all the work. Except for the actual charging of the A/C, fabricating and mounting of the two tail pipes and balancing and mounting two tires, we did all the work. We made the tonneau cover and painted the truck from the original two-tone brown & cream to the Sunburst Yellow, inside and out.
It is a fun little truck to drive. The 305 is really spunky, especially in this light truck. With the tight turning radius, I think I could make a u-turn in my driveway!
She’s old enough she turns heads and new enough to be a comfortable drive.