High and Mighty - 1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne Camper Special
Article and Photography by Richard Butschi
In 1963, Chevrolet introduced their second generation pickups as “C/K”s, which indicated that there were really 2 lines. The “C” pickups were 2-wheel drive, while the “K” models were 4-wheel drive. The numbers 10, 20 and 30 indicated whether they were 1/2T, 3/4T or 1 ton trucks. The first generation trucks used 3100, 3200 and 3300 to designate their hauling capacity. In ‘67, GM dubbed the new line as the “Action Line” - indicating modern styling and something other than a utility vehicle. The C/K label was used until 1999, when the Silverado was introduced.
The Action Line vehicles were good looking pickups and caught the eye of a young Danny Vandaver, growing up in Rowley, IA. A friend of his had one, and at age 12, he vowed that he would someday have one just like it. Of course, life gets in the way, and it was only 5 years ago that Vandaver tracked one down in Marion, this one being a 3/4T truck instead of a 1/2T, like his friend had. The previous owner had inherited it from his late father and had plans to restore it, eventually.
Vandaver has the skills to take on a major project like this and works with Dave Reed of Dave’s Service Shop in Alburnett. Danny did all of the work on this Cheyenne, other than the engine, which was built by Bill Barthelmes of Central City. As the badging on the fender reads, it is a “454” making close to 490 hp. It hooks up to a 350 TH 3-speed automatic transmission, that was gone through by the previous owner. The ‘72 has power steering and brakes (discs up front with drums on the rear), factory a/c , but no tilt wheel or cruise control. Vandaver removed the body, sandblasted and painted the frame, which then got an 8” chassis lift and later a 3” body lift. Adding that height to the 38” diameter Super Swamper tires and it’s quite a jump to the door sills.
The body needed quite a bit of work. The box was trashed, but a one was found in Wisconsin in pristine condition. The floor of the cab presented the biggest problem – keeping it square while installing the new one. Vandaver also installed new cab corners and rocker panels, along with new doors and 4 new wheel wells. The defining touch is the bright Hugger Orange paint, complemented with white.
Apparently, car-building skills run in the family, as Danny’s brother, Rob, of Mauston, WS, produces some outstanding vehicles. He currently is working on a ‘67 Chevelle for Danny’s wife, Ruby, owner of Rubies’ Bar in uptown Center Point. It will sport a 383 “stroker” engine, making about 500 hp and will be painted a beautiful deep red. Vandaver will help with the project and figures it should be cruisin’ the streets of CP, by springtime. Danny and Ruby love to parade the Cheyenne, showing it off and tossing candy to the kids, but it sounds like they may be driving separately in future parades.
Vandaver recently reconnected with the previous owner in Marion, taking the almost-completed ‘72 there for a quick drive and a once-over. Before parting ways again, the former owner asked if Danny would be willing to sell it back to him. “Sure!”, Vandaver replied, adding the dollar amount it would take. The former owner paused, and said that he would give it some serious thought. In the meantime, Vandaver will enjoy showing, driving and parading the two-toned beauty. And as he says, “money talks”. Like many car guys, he’s willing to sell and find another project to work on. That’s where the true enjoyment is found.