Yes, there's no doubt that these old GM trucks had very rusty sheet metal which was disappointing. As I have seen from my own and others in my family, even when the sheet metal rusts away, the frame and everything important underneath still keeps on going. You can always buy cheap replicas of the original sheet metal (but a better kind of metal) from JC Whitney and LMC truck magazines.
Or you could just wipe the excess water out of the back beads of the fenders with an old rag after washing, where water tended to collect. I have owned a dozen of these old late to mid 70's Chev's some with rust already starting in the usual spots. With a little extra care you can get by as I did with no visible rust growth on existing rust spots in over 7 years.
Great story! Really enjoyed reading.
In the viewer comments - everyone is talking about rust. My 1985 was absolutely perfect - then I awoke one day to find that every suspension component drive train and braking system was covered in rust. It's like it happened over night. Same with the suspension - seems like it went out over night.
These trucks are wanted by Muscle Car owners. The TH400 (Turbo Hydro-Matic) Transmission is sought after by Corvette owners. The 14 Bolt Rear Differential is also sought after - as well as the 5.7 350 Heavy Duty V8 Engine.
These 3/4 Ton trucks were meant for Slide In Campers and even included all the Camper Information in the glove box. From what I understand - they all came with a Standard 1 Ton Frame and a 3/4 Ton Suspension system.
These trucks are now classics. They are becoming a target for parts thieves who will change out their damaged parts for your good parts and Muscle Car people "CRAVE" these drive trains. There are some who are willing to help put your vehicle in early retirement with the hopes of snagging up the parts at a penny of what their worth.
PB Blaster works EXCELLENT on drive shafts and other parts on this vehicle. It literally kills the rust - just don't use it directly on your universal joints.
My truck has been absolutely fantastic till recently. I do believe I was the victim of parts swapping. Your parts are stolen - but you are left with a truck that needs immense service. But - I LOVE MY TRUCK SO MUCH!!! - That I may spend the money and time to restore it. I will also add an air suspension system to it as well. It protects the main spring sets from premature wear and keeps the truck in perfect balance. ONLY THING AS I MENTIONED - These trucks have become more in demand - not just by other truck people including JEEP,etc. - but by Muscle Car people. You may find it is better to get rid of them to be picked off piece by piece at an enormous cost to you.
But - All in all, an excellent truck and I really enjoyed your story and history.
I have a 79 Scottsdale. It is a wonderful truck.
Yes they rust horribly, but it's worth it to restore them.
I had half of the bed of my truck rusted out. The original doors had rust holes so big I could put my head through it.
Now I have replacement parts for it and I took the stock 350 out and put in a L82 outta a 79 Corvette.
These trucks can take a hit and keep going.