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1980 Chevy K30 Cummins - Sentimental Value

A Cummins-powered Chevy that's more than the sum of its parts

Photography by Dan "Double D" Davis

Diesel trucks are often more than the sum of their parts. They all have great engines, bulletproof transmissions, axles rated for more than 5 tons of weight, and pickup beds built for loading up and dragging around whatever it takes to get the job done. Naturally, each one of the Big 3 diesels has its own strengths, but what if what you're looking for in a truck isn't something that can be sold on a dealership lot?

Ty Freed of Bruceville, Indiana, was in just that kind of predicament. Back in 1981, Ty's dad bought a Chevy pickup for use around the homestead. Since the day his dad rolled down the driveway in that truck, Ty's been sold on the '73-'87 Chevy. It's kind of a sentimental thing. So, when it came time to buy a pickup of his own, Ty knew he'd have to take the unconventional path and restore an '80 K30 dualie instead of buying a late-model rig. When he tore into the project, he even decided to repaint it in the same two-tone treatment as that of his dad's truck.

The more you know about Ty, the more his decision makes sense. Ty is a professor at the Vincennes University, where he teaches courses in automotive technology and collision repair. Who better to know the steps it takes to completely strip, rebuild, and repaint every component on the truck until it looked and functioned as good as new. Ty figures he's put around 1,200 hours of work into building the truck. One of the reasons his buildup took so long is its unique powertrain.

Cummins Engine Swap

Unlike his dad's old Chevy, Ty's K30 received some modern updates to ensure that it could ride and drive like a new pickup.

Instead of rebuilding the original gas V-8 engine under the hood, Ty swapped in an early 12-valve 5.9L Cummins with the VE injection pump with an intercooler from a '96 Dodge Ram. He built custom motor mounts and mated a Dodge 47RE four-speed automatic transmission behind the Cummins to make the swap go smoother.

Ty's attention to detail is nothing less than stunning. The engine compartment alone is a work of art. The wiring, plumbing, and integration of the swapped-in Dodge hardware is first class and makes the Cummins, dare we say, look even more at home in this '80 Chevy's engine compartment than it does in the Dodge it came out of.

Work Truck That's a Work of Art

The rest of the truck is equally as spotless. Rather than turn the truck into a chromed-out show vehicle, Ty took the time to build the truck into something he could actually use. The 1-ton drivetrain was built with heavy-duty use in mind. An aluminum flatbed replaced the bed. Goodyear MT/R mud tires on 16-inch Alcoa aluminum wheels were fitted to give the truck the ability to drive anywhere Ty needs it to go. And for those times when even that's not enough, a Warn winch was fitted up front to pull him the rest of the way. Kinda makes you wish Chevrolet built them this way back in the '80s, doesn't it?

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