Classic car restorations have never been more popular but the trend hasn’t pervaded the world of pickup trucks like it has, for instance, sports cars. However now we bring you the Legacy Chevy NAPCO Conversion from Legacy Classic Trucks, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
For those unfamiliar with the popular vintage trucks, the NAPCO 4x4s were a 3100-series trucks built between 1955 and 1959 and fitted with Power-Pak 4×4 Conversions sourced from Northwestern Auto Parts Company. The option, was also available on some GMC trucks, enabled the General Motor Company to sell its first first production-scale half-ton 4×4 pickup. Some trucks were converted on the assembly line while others could be upfitted at the dealership.
The Napco option — with a retail cost of $995, not including labor — extended up to two-ton GM-manufactured trucks as well as Suburbans and panel wagons. The conversion required only four holes to be drilled and took about three labor hours. Napco used GM brakes, wheels, springs, shocks and OE other parts so that dealers could easily service the trucks.
However Legacy’s Chevy NAPCO 4x4s aren’t originals, the company calls them “tribute” trucks. The quality of the work and the attention to detail make them we think even more desirable than the originals.
“We’re excited to revive interest in the Chevy Napco, which I think is one of the greatest trucks of all time,” says Legacy Classic Trucks founder Winslow Bent. “The Legacy Chevy Napco Conversion combines the personality of the original Napco with modern performance and handling. We use our trucks hard here, and we’re confident that our customers will enjoy theirs as much as we enjoy making and testing them.”
Starting with a donor Chevy or GMC 3100, Legacy rebuilds the truck to match the configuration of an original NAPCO 4×4, albeit with all-new components. A new frame is the starting point designed to meet the stresses of a modern powertrain and off-roading duty, and where possible Legacy works with regulators to transfer the frame VIN from the original donor to the new frame, in this case a fully boxed TCI 2×6-inch setup.
Along with the new frame is modern suspension, developed by Legacy in partnership with suspension experts Alcan Spring and Offroad Design. The rear Alcan leaves provide 11 inches of suspension travel. To compensate for varying loads in the bed and control weight transfer, Legacy uses an adjustable Currie Antirock Sway Bar. This helps keep the rearend firmly planted, particularly when the bed is unladen.
Ride quality is fine-tuned by premium King remote-reservoir shocks. The front 2.5-inch-diameter units have 12 inches of travel, and the rear King 2.0s handle 14 inches of suspension travel. Legacy Classic Trucks tunes the King shocks for each specific Chevy Napco before delivering the truck to the customer. A final suspension detail is King Air Bumps. They save the springs from overflexing by cushioning the impact should the suspension bottom out during enthusiastic driving.
Axles are stout Dynatrac ProRock units with disc brakes. Legacy used the Dana 44-based ProRock for its prototype Chevy Napco but will step up to the ProRock 60 for production trucks to optimize the front driveshaft angle. Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differentials and 4.11 gears are standard. Other performance differentials such as the ARB Air Locker are available by customer request.
The axles turn Toyo Open Country R/T all-terrains. The Legacy Chevy Napco uses period 16×7 steel wheels with hub caps inside 33×10.50R16 Toyos as standard equipment. A harder-core upgrade is 34×11.50R17 Toyo R/Ts on 17×8.5 Trailready HD17 beadlocks.
Legacy has trialed various powertrain combinations and settled on a choice of two modern Standard issue is the 350-hp GM 5.3L Vortec LC9 V-8. The alternative is the 430-hp 6.2L LS3 V-8. To curtail any cooling issues, Legacy uses a racing-style Ron Davis radiator. There is a range of exhaust options as Customers also get a choice of exhaust systems. The base setup is a Borla 2.5-inch stainless steel system with dual mufflers and quad tips. The premium system adapts Borla’s selectable 2.75-inch C7 Corvette Stingray NPP kit. This system has valves in the mufflers and allows the driver to choose between Quiet and Sport modes at the push of a button. Alternately, customers can choose a receiver-hitch option with a traditional Borla side-exit exhaust.
Transmissions include 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual options, while the transfer case is the familiar Advance Adapters Atlas II with a standard 3.0 low-range gearing. The Legacy Napco delivers sports car performance and massive utility in an iconic package.
Just as spectacular as the mechanical package are the details that have gone into the cabin. Many of the original plastic parts such as the buttons on the dash are swapped with custom metal replacements. The standard Legacy Chevy Napco “Black” interior package uses Horween leather upholstery, rubber floormats, and a Nardi black-leather steering wheel. Customers can upgrade to Legacy’s Sandlewood package, which incorporates a suede headliner that compliments the Horween leather upholstery. Attention to detail includes a mahogany Nardi Torino steering wheel and premium Mercedes-Benz square-weave carpeting.
Other available amenities include the classy Classic Instruments Task Force gauge cluster, a Vintage Air HVAC system, and a 900-watt sound system that starts with a period-appearing Retro-Sound head unit, which feeds a Focal amp and K2 speakers plus two 8-inch JL Audio subwoofers.
The exterior is also customized to order. In addition to bed configurations, customers have a choice of three front grille styles: 1955-1956 cross-hatched Task Force, toothy 1957 Task Force or 1958-1959 small-grille/dual-headlight Apache. Legacy offers five standard paint colors and an up-level two-tone accent package with Pepper White roof, back panel, door panels and lower dash.
The starting price for one of these conversions runs about $135,000. Of course, all of Legacy’s trucks are built to order so prices can easily deviate from the stated figure depending on the specification selected.
The truck is sorted and well thought out, delivering performance that you can drive every day. The end product is sensational a rare example of an icon revived and restored into something better than the original. With improvements made to the performance and without sacrifice to the integrity or simplicity of the original Chevy Napco, the Legacy Chevy Napco is the truck for someone that demands only the finest.
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