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time to repair, restore, part out, or sell. need advice.


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hey guys, I need some advice.  ive been wrestling this decision since the brakes went out in October.  I don't know what to do with my truck.  03 ss, mostly stock, runs great except for transfer case bushing issue and now needs every single brake line, fuel line, and hard trans line under the truck.  every last line is questionable.  I am also completely unwilling to just stab ni-cop through all the rust and stuff and kinda hope for the best.  the truck also needs inner/outer rockers, cab corners, and most of the bed is rotten.

I have the time, I have most of the skill, I have the room, and I have access to most equipment I need to actually fix it right.  I wish I had actual shop space, but the driveway will suffice.  I have a daily driver car, so I can take my time to a point.

im not rich, I would most definitely prefer to not be tethered to a car payment, nor do I have much interest in newer trucks.  

so that being said, the clearest paths I can take are as follows:


sell off all the ss stuff that sells really quick, sell the driveline, do a quick partout, cut it up, and send it to the junkyard.  this is my least favorite idea.  I don't want to butcher up this truck.  it may not be a GTO or something, but it is a 2 owner, never wrecked genuine SS.  might net 3000 bucks to spend on/towards a less rusty truck.


sell as is.  the lowball offers ive gotten so far have been insulting, despite it being able to run through gears etc.  no one wants rusty trucks.


do a mild restoration.  pull the bed.  pull the cab.  clean/grind/sandblast frame and undercarriage.  brakes in rear need rebuild axle to axle, and all parking brake cables.  replace rockers/corners, and repaint.  this is the point where I veer off track.  that part is easy enough, but then you realize, its the perfect time for a hydroboost swap, that a 4l80 swap wouldn't be TOO expensive and the 4l65 is reliable but tired, and t-case needs work, so theres no better time for a 2wd swap as I wont drive it in winter again.  then again, my finances would really strain to cover an extra few grand in those swaps, so getting that fancy might not be realistic.  I could leave the bed crappy for the time being, its only 6 bolts so no big deal taking it off/putting it on a few times.  the whole truck needs paint and minor dings worked, but is very workable.  at that point, I could put the cab back on, and have the worst of the rust handled (that being the underside of the bed, the frame, the underside of the cab) rock it as is for the rest of the year, working on cosmetic stuff as I can, then maybe next year rebuild the bed (all sheet metal is available, and this is still the cheapest option if you can do it, at least in Chicago rust free beds are 1000+) and paint and finish it.  the engine runs great, but if I came this far, I would guess that at this time I could actually put in the garage and work in the winter, so I could pull the fenders off/pull the engine out, and sandblast/rebuild the front section from firewall forward, regasket whatever needs it, and have a very clean and tidy rust free truck.  I understand the concept of rust removal and sealing, and trust me product selection is still up for debate.  I did paint/body a while back, I still have everything I need (except I might try out the harbor freight spot welder), and could use a hobby to focus on, as the SS turned into a work truck/daily 10 years ago.  I know that the spare tire winch section is rotted out, but all body mounts and the rest of the x members look intact.  so that being said, is it worth it to do this to a truck that is not likely to appreciate in value?  its been the best vehicle ive ever owned, but I don't want to go down the financial rabbit hole of 'doing it for the love' and being broke for it.  


honestly, the perfect truck for me for the forseeable future would be a 2wd arrival blue 4l80 swapped Silverado SS, little baby cam.  now would be the time to make that happen.  im a mechanic, and I know how slow I work when im doing it for enjoyment, its very sporadic.  I can haul ass for an hour, or several hours, or a day, or a week, and just totally lose steam.  or the weather goes to crap.  or whatever.  I don't want to be 'that guy' with a rotten out vehicle hes 'gonna fix someday'.  the plate sticker is about to expire so its decision time.


any thoughts welcome.



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I had similar thoughts about it earlier this year, my 03 isn't as bad as you describe yours though.

I may do it someday but my plan is to make a 2500 SS clone, find a regular cab, convert it to a shortbed use all my SS parts except the axles and transmission since I would prefer to use the beefy 8 lug stuff and 4L80E, keep the awd t-case, interior is a straight up swap

Some food for thought. One thing to remember is people hate rot, 2 owner cars with rot people still hate. I live in Northern Michigan so I know how the rust thing goes.

The nice thing about just finding a different truck is you are breathing new life into that truck, start with a great donor from the south. So what it will be a clone, it's yours and you have the parts from your other truck to make it sweet

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i for sure agree, and that was an idea i kicked around but 2500s are expensive when theyre in good shape.  i liked the idea of heavy duty everything but no diesel.  currently i think that would be playing my weakest hand as i would have to keep all SS stuff for myself instead of selling for a running truck, as well as buying a rust free 2500, and still need to part out the SS.  if i had the money i think thats the route i would go, but for now just having a reliable vehicle is the most important part.  the sheet metal for the cab is less than 300, id need maybe $20 in sand, but paint will be fairly expensive.  i wont be cheaping out on product, that is what killed the bed of the truck.  i had it down to bare metal and fixed the wheel arches, painted with kirker products, and the spot where the plastic bed rail cover touches the bed had a rust line in weeks, and by the time i could get to it, it already had bubbles.  thats when i quit, and the wheel arch failed soon afterward.  i hate battling the rust demon, but when done properly is better than oem.  im learning that annual reapplication of wax and stuff like that is crucial, there is NO 'use once and its fine' product, even por15 and that stuff needs to be maintained in the salt.  thanks for the reply!

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Similar plan but modified a little bit, you could grab a rust-free 1500 and do a 4L80E swap if you want.  You're going 2WD anyway so that should simplify your search.  Plenty of 2WD ECSB 1500's down here where stuff doesn't rust.  Also, going with 2WD as the basis you'd be coil sprung front end instead of torsion bar.  Plus, you'd have stuff to sell to defray the cost of the project truck as you pull it in prep for your SS parts.  Engine, trans, rear end, interior...


Edited by someotherguy (see edit history)
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I still think of my 03 SS as being fairly new ?  At least it was brand new when I bought it in 03 ;D  But I guess they are getting up there at 17 years old.  It is amazing how much rust some of these trucks have in the rust belt states.  I guess that has something to do with the name "rust belt".  Not a bit of rust on mine, but I have drier weather and no salt on the roads out here in CA.

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I'm in the same boat, being a Indiana truck mine has a rusty bed sides (just above the arches) cab corners and rockers, plus the pass fender has bubbles forming and the shitty GM clear coat peeling.  I picked up a red fender at the junkyard, and am hunting either good bedsides at the yard, or will buy a new bed. I'm going to restore mine as it's my daily and I just love these trucks. I don't see them everyday on the road like newer trucks or just plain silverados. My wife (who hates my automotive addiction) mentioned this weekend I should just get a new truck..lol.. She was shocked I said no thanks..

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  • 5 weeks later...

I’m in the same boat my friend. Not as bad as yours but I purchased mine , looking to mildly restore it, LS2 engine, 4l80 trans.  Luckily the only rust on the truck is the arrival blue paint bubbling on the passenger side rear wheel well. totally not a issue to fix.


the shitty GM clear coat has failed on the truck, especially on the front and it needs painted from the doors forward. 

seems like there’s a little play in the rear end diff, seems like the steering is a little loose, seems like a lot of little things that are now adding up. I’m debating on what I should do myself. 

it’s def hard to just cut these trucks up and let them go, unless you’re in a bad no return situation. I think I’ve personally decided to just sell mine to someone who will give it what it needs. 

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