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Top Jimmy

by Scott Mason

We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it, some trucks just have the “it” factor. A presence. Kyle Black’s ‘81 Jimmy survivor has it. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but it might have something to do with the color combo. Or maybe the snazzy 80’s interior. Or maybe it’s just that old truck smell. Whatever it is, we got sucked into the vortex when we stumbled across it parked in the Hill’s Hot Rods display at Dino’s Git-Down last fall.

Kyle is a guy who seems to often land in the right place at the right time. He learned about his Jimmy – now known as “Daisy” – from a friend who knew someone, and that guy knew another guy, and so on. “Daisy got her name from the original owner who used the vehicle to deliver flowers. After being parked for many years, we found it behind a flower shop in Gainsville, Texas, with only 79,000 original miles. It was a runner and driver, but they had quit using it in favor of something more modern. I cleaned it up a bit and started driving it.”  

According to Kyle, the truck was very well preserved and had obviously been loved dearly by its previous owner. “The paint is totally original. After I purchased Daisy, she got the full spa treatment with a buff and polished before a coat of wax. The bumpers and side moldings were showing their age, so I replaced them to clean up the visual details.”

It’s always amazing to see the transformation a simple set of wheels and ride height adjustment can make. Kyle had no intention of going over the top with his wheel choice. He had a very clear idea in his head of what he was after and what would work best with Daisy’s paint color combo. A set of 20” Billet Specialties Speedway wheels wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 tires fit the bill perfectly and bring the truck into the 21st century. The 4/6 drop modernizes the looks, handling, and ride quality without killing the usability. “It’s driven daily. The delivery life has continued, with Daisy being the primary vehicle used for school drop-off of my two daughters, Landri and Kelsi. They especially like it when the top is off.”

To make the daily commute a little less dramatic, Kyle and his buds, Jason Hill, Matt Bourland, and Colby “Cheese” Akins, swapped in a little 4.8 LS and 4L60E transmission. “I drove it with the original small block 350 for about eight months. It started smoking and wheezing, so I made the decision to upgrade and replace it with the LS. It’s a take-out motor and transmission. I put a mild Texas Speed cam in it to give it a little more go power. It really helped and actually improved the fuel mileage!” The 3” exhaust and Flowmaster mufflers give this old dog a little more growl and let the neighbors know he’s home.

The interior is completely original down to the catalytic converter warning decal on the sun visor. “All it needed was a basic detailing to make it livable. You know, steam clean the carpet and a little scrubbing here and there. Considering how the Texas sun tends to bake everything in its path, the interior was in amazing shape.” 

Kyle didn’t want to take away from that originality, but he needed to update the electronic aspects of the cabin. “I installed a set of Classic Instruments gauges so I could keep an eye on the engine. The upgrade made sense and simplified the process of wiring the gauges with the new engine.” He also added a RetroSound head unit along with Kicker 5-1/4” component speakers in the kick panels and a 12” sub in the back, all powered by a couple of Kicker amps. “The fuzzy-sounding original AM/FM radio wasn’t cutting it. Even my kids made fun of it! Now they can stay entertained and listen to Bruno Mars on our way to and from school.”

Kyle summed it up best, “I didn’t build this truck to win shows, but it sure is fun to cruise around! The time I get to spend together with my family and Daisy will be cherished forever. She definitely has a special place in all of our hearts.”

Kyle Black • ‘81 Jimmy
  • 4.8L LS engine
  • Texas Speed Stage 1 Truck Cam
  • Speed Engineering shorty headers
  • Custom 3” exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers
  • PSI Conversions standalone engine harness
  • GM ECU tuned by Lone Star Performance
  • 4L60E transmission
  • Tanks Inc fuel tank with braided fuel line
  • Switch Suspension 4/6 drop
  • installed by Hill’s Hot Rods
  • Billet Specialties polished Speedway wheels,
  • 20×8.5 front/20×10 rear
  • Nitto NT555 G2 tires, 255/35R20 & 275/35R20
  • Original paint and interior
  • RetroSound head unit
  • Kicker 5-1/4” component speakers in kick panels
  • Kicker 12” subwoofer
  • Kicker amps, one 4-channel, one single channel
  • Audio install by JD Glassworks
  • Classic Instruments gauges

Shout Outs: Jason Hill, Matt Bourland, and Colby “Cheese” Akins for help swapping the engine in my garage at home; My wife for putting up with me

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