By: Andrew Tanner
Jerod Fuller, a junior from Polk City, Florida, purchased his 1998 Chevrolet S10 pickup from a private seller in Orlando when he was 17 years old. At the time, the engine was a four cylinder that was done for, so he was able to purchase it for $800. After getting the truck home, Fuller pulled out the engine and transmission and lowered the truck by four inches. Because he was young, buying expensive parts wasn’t an option so he did his best to find deals.
His plan was to swap in a 5.3 liter Chevrolet V8 engine in place of the useless four cylinder and procured the proper engine for $200 complete with everything he needed to make it run. The T56 manual transmission came from a 1996 Camaro that he parted out to make some extra cash.
Using the money from the parts sales, Fuller was able to convert the older T56 to fit a newer GM LS engine like the 5.3 he was installing. His father’s friend worked for a company that produced items necessary for swapping LS engines into almost any vehicle desired, and Fuller was able to obtain new engine mounts for a reasonable cost.
Many other modifications were performed by Fuller himself, and lots of junkyard prowling yielded him rear disc brakes and a radiator from a 2000 Blazer, as well as many other S10 parts. All in all, it took him 8 months to get the truck running. Fuller ran into problems with the computerized engine, because unlike an older engine troubleshooting was much more complicated. Because he was about to start school at McPherson College, he was out of time to solve the problem. After returning home for the next summer, Fuller was able to find the issue and get it running perfectly, but ended up running it a little too hard and spun a rod bearing on his way from Florida to Kansas. Thus, he did a full rebuild with the help of Professor Curt Goodwin’s assistance and has since driven the S10 to Indiana, Florida, and back to Kansas. While in Florida, Fuller installed a more powerful camshaft as well as hardened pushrods and better valve springs.
In September, with the truck running its best, Fuller had it up to 6,000 RPM and the engine threw two rods causing catastrophic detonation. He now has a new block ready to be built with the same upgraded valvetrain and plans to install a Ford 8.8 rear axle out of an Explorer that will provide him with a limited slip differential and full disc brakes. In the future, Fuller hopes to take his S10 to a drag strip and the dirt track, but suspects he will eventually sell it and move on to something else.