Jim and Sabrina's
1959 Chevrolet Apache 32 Stepside Pickup
The Bench is Back - June 11, 2005

Twenty-nine years ago I removed the bench seat in my truck in order to install a pair of bucket seats from out of my 1963 Ford Thunderbird. Well, after many years, I got to sit in my truck on its freshly reupholstered bench seat. When we first decided to undertake this project, one of the initial items on our checklist was to reinstall an original 1959 bench seat back in our truck. Thanks to Orange Auto Upholstery, that item is now checked off.

Sergio’s crew at Orange Auto Upholstery completely refurbished the seat with new springs, padding, trim paint and re-covered the seat with two-tone leather and vinyl covering. The style of the seat upholstery, while not covered with OEM material, does retain the “period” look. While our truck originally had a two-tone beige and charcoal seat, it didn’t have the middle beige insert strip or the fancy style of trim along the top of the back of the bench. Those particular “enhancements” are taken from the type of upgraded styling offered by Chevrolet in the deluxe cab trucks as an option.

Our truck is now also equipped with seat belts for the first time. Seat belts were an option offered by Chevrolet for trucks in 1959, but few truck owners ordered the accessory option. The belts we chose for our truck, are also period-correct, although not the exact belts originally offered by General Motors in 1959. Sabrina and I were very pleased with how the seat turned out and how nice it looked back in the cab. It was also really cool to actually sit in my truck again! I didn’t want to get back out, but we had other things to check out, so I climbed out of the cab and gently closed the door.

Just prior to the seat being installed, John at Auto Tek installed the gas tank. The tank is mounted in the cab behind the bench seat. The bench seat folds forward to gain access to this area. Soon, our tire jack, jack handle and tire iron lug wrench will also be secured behind the seat on the driver’s side of the cab. The seat is mounted on a track that allows the seat to slide foreword and backward to provide for varying legroom needs.

In addition to the installation of the gas tank and bench seat, John also has installed the interior firewall pad, foot starter button cover and the rubber floor mat and under-padding. Our next quest is to find a replacement heater as the original recalculating heater in our truck was removed many years ago after the heater core developed a leak.

John also installed the headlight buckets after performing some badly needed repairs on one of the buckets in order for it to be useable again. The original headlights were replaced with halogen bulbs. While the original style sealed headlight bulbs are still available, we elected to go with the newer-designed bulbs that will provide a much brighter light pattern thus increasing safety.

Under the newly reinstalled hood, an Accel Super Stock Coil that John sanded down to remove the Accel Yellow coat of paint and repainted black to appear original. This faux coil is a high performance canister style coil specially designed for use with electronic ignition systems. This coil will work well with the 1979-92 Mopar V-6 engine electronic control unit module that will be tucked away in the engine compartment so as not to draw attention away from the stock look of the original distributor and rotor cap that will be reinstalled on our Chevrolet inline 235 cubic inch six-cylinder engine.

This particular electronic ignition setup allows for the use of stock AC-Delco six-cylinder spark plugs and wires along with the stock distributor and rotor cap. Inside the distributor, a distributor pickup coil and reluctor replaces the old breaker points and condenser. Steve at Auto Tek is the restoration team member that headed up this conversion. In order to tuck the pickup coil into the distributor, Steve had to put the breaker plate on the lathe and grind it down a bit to accommodate the new distributor pickup coil so it would rest below the lip of the distributor allowing the stock rotor cap to still be used.

When the distributor is re-installed, it will appear to look completely stock to most observers. Yet, with the improved modern ignition technology, the truck should perform much better. In addition to improved starting, this upgrade should also assist with realizing better fuel mileage and will reduce maintenance requirements by eliminating the need to regularly change out the old breaker points and condenser. As this is an electronic mechanical system, more percise timing and a superior ignition spark will now be delivered constantly without fail -- unlike the inconsistencies seen with the earlier-style breaker point system our truck was originally equipped with.

After we checked out all of the progress on our truck, Sabrina and I said goodbye to Tom, Steve and John and drove over to Orange Auto Upholstery to thank Sergio and his crew for such a nice job and to pay for their quality work. After leaving Orange Auto Upholstery, we drove over to The Truck and Car Shop to pickup the following parts:

Upon buying our parts, we drove back over to Auto Tek and dropped off the parts so John could keep busy for the next week.

Here are the items that we will be thinking about over the next week or so:

Click on the "Next" button below to check out how our electronic ignition installation turned out and how the front grill looks back in place.





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