When you build something, build it right the first time. The Conger family of Sulphur Rock, Arkansas, took this time-honored expression and put it to good use during the buildup of this '71 Chevy Cheyenne 4x4. This super-clean off-road vehicle is an extraordinary example of hard work. Not one inch of this vehicle was left untouched when it came down to the restoration. In fact, about the only original body piece left on the truck was the right front fenderwell. Scott Conger, his wife April, and son Andy spent many hours scouring junkyards and leaning on parts counters to get this off-road vehicle put together.
Scott has always had a dream to build a '71 Chevy 4x4. One day - and to his complete surprise - Scott's wife April bought this hauler for her husband. Imagine his disbelief as this $1,500 Chevy surprise pulled into their driveway. After a year, $35,000, and uncountable hours of back-breaking labor, the family had produced one of the finest Bow Tie off-road machines to run the fields and trails of Arkansas.
First on the agenda was getting the truck ready to move. The original Chevy powerplant was ripped out, and a '76 Chevy 350 was modified for a new life. The block was fully machined, cleaned, and deburred. All parts were balanced and blueprinted, while Keith Black pistons were installed as well as a Competition Cams' camshaft model 292 with 470 lift and 290 duration. Fully modified Dart heads were added, topped by an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and a Holley 750-cfm carb with a K&N air filter. Final displacement was 355ci with a compression ratio of 10:5. Jet-Hot-coated headers and a 2-1/2-inch Flowmaster exhaust help this engine breathe. To light the fuel mixture, a Performance distributor and HEI ignition are used. Other trick engine modifications are a March pulley system and a serpentine belt system.
The Congers wanted a vehicle that was functional and useable with show-quality looks. In order to get the 4x4 on the trail and survive, a Superlift suspension lift was added. Superlift 8-inch leaf springs were used front and rear. A 3-inch body lift was also added for more fender-to-rubber clearance. Two Superlift shocks were installed at each wheel of the Chevy and dual Superlift steering dampers were added for enhanced steering control. With the additional clearance, a set of 39x18x15 Mickey Thompson Baja Belted tires was mounted on 15x14-inch Weld Road Hawk wheels.
The bodywork on this truck proved to be time-consuming and laborious, yet through it all the family overcame and massaged this beast to better-than-new condition. One of the Conger's problems was finding the parts they couldn't purchase new. They wanted this off-roader to be perfect. Needless to say, many hours were spent in the scrap yard. All remaining parts were unbolted from the body, then the body was removed from the frame. Everything was stripped, cleaned, or sandblasted, including the frame. Once prepped, the body was meticulously put back together, then taken to Marrotis Custom Paint in Desha, Arkansas. The 4x4 was sprayed with flame-yellow PPG paint, then Chevrolet graphics were added to the tailgate.
Many off-road enthusiasts start off with the good intentions of restoring their vehicles to their most pristine state, yet some are sidetracked and disillusioned by the amount of work it actually takes to build an off-road machine of a high caliber.