Tailgate latches are one aspect of restoring these classic trucks that has gone relatively untouched. The standard “bear claw” style latches have been used to upgrade door latches on almost every type of classic truck door, but nothing for the tailgates. There are some parts out there that eliminate the hanging chains of the step side beds, but there hasn’t been anything on the market for upgrading the way the standard tailgate handle works… until now.
Tre 5 Customs saw a need for a more modernized latch and support cable system for the tailgates on their builds and decided to develop a complete kit. This kit not only replaces the old school latches, but it also includes insulated cables that replace the metal support links that hold the tailgate when opened. There are several benefits to the kit, starting with how easy the tailgate opens and closes. With the new tailgate latches, you can literally lift the handle with one figure. Speaking of the handle, the kit works with your factory handle and rods. This also means that it will work with your handle if it has been “flipped” to the inside of the tailgate. Also, with the insulated cables, there isn’t any more annoying rattling at the tailgate. Another really nice benefit to the kit is that there is no welding required to install any of the parts and it can be installed on some years with zero paint touch ups. The Tre 5 Customs tailgate latch kits are currently available to fit the 67-72 trucks and blazers and 76-87 years of the Chevy trucks with fleetside tailgates.
For this article we are working on a 1976 Squarebody Chevy Truck. There are three different Squarebody tailgates throughout the 73-87 year range and this kit will only work on the 76-87 years. Currently there is not a kit for the 73-75, but look for it in the near future. There are also some similarities of this install to the 67-72 Chevy trucks and blazers. For more information on the kits, check out the Tre 5 Customs website.