Diesel Tuner's Blog

'03 Duramax in a '58 Apache, ApacheMax Build Thread 1

Posted by Paul Wilson on Jun 23, 2017 9:43:00 AM


ApacheMax Build Thread, 1


This 1958 Chevy Apache pickup started life in Michigan.  Eric Kock had bought the truck new in 1958 and drove it daily while logging in the UP.  

While Eric owned the truck it had a hard life, being worked on logging trails and used like a truck everyday.  However, he took great care of it and actually did a frame up restoration twice while he had the truck. 


In 2013 it made it's way to DuramaxTuner.com with the original paint  scheme still intact. 

The original plan for the truck was to swap the body onto a GM 2500 HD chassis and throw an LB7 Duramax motor and driveline in it.  It sounds simple right? Originally there were no plans on doing a fully built motor and since it was going to mate up to a ZF6 the plan only included an aftermarket clutch.  In the end, it turned out to be "Something the Terminator would drive" (Nick Preignitz).

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The donor truck below had seen better days when we got it . . . . 



Some may ask, "Why not just throw the Duramax and ZF6 into the Apache and sent it?"  The answer is simple, a 1958 pickup chassis simply cannot handle the torque and abuse that was planned for this truck.  

While comparing the 2003 donor frame, which only required a little tweaking to get back to straight, and the 1958 chassis a few differences could be easily observed between the trucks.  Your eye-chromoter is more than enough to see the original 1958 frame is completely flat.  Meaning if you were to hold a level across the entire length of the truck, it should make contact all the way across.  The 2003 HD frame has a large portion that drops down a few inches under the cab.  Not to mention the newer chassis is a few feet longer. 

Also, the actual thickness of the frame on the '58 doesn't even compare to the rigidity provided by the newer HD frame.  As you can imagine, technology advanced a little from 1958 to 2003.  Just consider the difference in what GM rated these trucks for being able to handle in torque.  The 1958 Apache with the largest engine package made just shy of 220 ft-lbs according to GM Heritage Center, the 2003 HD frame with a factory Duramax made 500ft-lbs.

Brett Keihl, owner of AutoBodySomethingICantRemmeber, is the body work specialist that was called in to make this project happen.  He is also the one that got to deal with things like the 1958 frame being 5-6 inches more narrow than the 2003,  the shortening of the frame, all the bond-o and all the customization that had to happen.





 As you read through this article, you may be wondering about your own custom diesel build.  We want to help! 


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Topics: LB7, apache, build thread, apachemax