Home Car Stories One Family 1987 CHEVROLET Pickup- Keith Seymore
1987 CHEVROLET Pickup- Keith Seymore PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Friday, 30 May 2014 20:09

1987 CHEVROLET Pickup- Keith Seymore


Writing copyright D. S. Brown. Photography courtesy and copyright Keith Seymore

87 chev pickup seymore f

Keith Seymore is the son of Van Seymore who you can read about in the ONE FAMILY story on the 1965 Pontiac GTO. Keith grew up with a father who worked for GM and raced on his off time. Not surprisingly, Keith started working for GM in 1979 and racing in his offtime. Keith worked in the Flint, Michigan final assembly plant where he built full size pickups, Chev Blazers and Suburbans.

87 chev pickup seymore side

In fall, 1986 Keith was informed that he was about to lose his 1986 Chevrolet Suburban company vehicle. Employees at his level were no longer allowed to drive company owned vehicles. The timing was bad because Keith had just sold his 1980 Chevy pickup.

Keith's father always ordered his cars through the local Chevy dealer Robert Uptegraff Chevrolet in Davison, Michigan. Read about the 1974 Chevelle 454 that the Seymore family ordered through this dealership in this ONE FAMILY section. When it came time to order a replacement truck Keith continued to use the same dealership location despite a name change when Hank Graff Ford purchased the dealership. It remained a Chevrolet franchise and because of the similarity of names, Keith was amused to note that Hank Graf simply drew a red line through the 'Upte' part of the dealership name on the dealership signage.

Keith spent hours with the engineering vehicle description summary figuring out which options to put on his truck. The majority of the set up followed the same pattern as the previous trucks Keith had owned. Keith wanted 2 wheel drive, short box, manual locks and windows, full vinyl flooring, and a 6 cylinder engine. Kieth had just placed the order when news came through of his imminent transfer to the GM Desert Proving Ground in Mesa Arizona. You need air conditioning down there! Keith managed to locate his order and amended it to include A/C. Keith recalls that A/C was quite a splurge for him at that time.

Keith was excited about a very special New Process A833 'Mopar' transmission which he had ordered on this truck. This transmission turned third gear into the usual top geared 1:1 ratio and transformed fourth gear into a 0.73 overdrive gear. The kicker is that the transmission came with a factory Hurst shifter. This is the same transmission that was an integral part of the really cool Plymouth 'Feather Duster' and Dodge 'Dart Lite' options back in 1976. The Dart Lite and Feather Duster options combined gearing with weight reduction to create gas mileage champs (36 MPG Highway!) out of good looking decent sized cars. Chrysler used aluminum intake manifolds, transmission case, bumper brackets, underhood and trunk supports which saved 350 pounds when compared to a standard Dart or Duster. The rear axle was already low at 2.94:1 and became a super low 2.14:1 when the car was shifted into 4th gear. The Chryslers used the 225 slant six with a specially tuned carburetor and distributor and oversize exhaust pipes to aid efficiency. When GM acquired the A833 they specified use of automatic transmission fluid instead of the usual gear oil which makes for a smoother shifting transmission.

87 chev pickup Semore hurst shifter

The random assignment of final assembly plants at the time could have sent Keith's order to any of several final assembly plants. Keith kept tabs on his new truck and scored his first lucky break when he found out that the truck would be built at Flint, Michigan where he worked.  The truck was assigned a tentative build date and then it seemed to drop between the cracks.

Keith finally had to inquire as to the status of his order and was horrified to discover that his truck had been placed on 'stop order'. It turned out that the special shifter/ transmission combo Keith ordered had sent his truck into limbo. The voice on the line told Keith,

“Mr Gasket company is buying out Hurst and we’re not sure we can get enough of those shifters to support production. This uncertainty put the whole option on stop order.”

Keith was totally bummed out. Then he started work on his back up plan. Keith figured he could just order a plain old three-on-the-tree. After delivery Keith could install a Saginaw 4 speed and aftermarket floor shifter. This would be old hat for Keith since this is what he did for his 1980 Chevrolet pickup that he had recently sold.

With that plan in mind, there wasn't a sense of urgency about the special transmission anymore. In a serene state of mind Keith was walking through the assembly plant and passed what is known as the 'motor line'. Keith was very pleasantly surprised to spot pallets and pallets of 'his' special transmission in stacks.  Keith called the Material Supervisor to come have a look,

“How many of those transmissions do you think you have?”

“I dunno” he replied. “Maybe a hunnert?”

“Don’t you think we oughta build ‘em out?”

The Material Supervisor liked the idea.  Keith ran back to his office. Keith's boss was the person who approved or disapproved small build runs. In short order Keith had his boss write a temporary deviation to build 100 trucks with the overdrive transmission. It was just 'coincidence' that one of those trucks was going to be Keith's. Anyone out there who saw his order released from 'stop order' purgatory knows who to thank for that overdrive transmission in their trucks!

On Monday, September 29, 1986 Keith arrived at the Flint, Michigan plant around 4:00 PM. His truck had just come down out of paint. Keith followed the truck as it entered the first stages of the trim area. Keith followed the line after it started up and walked with his cab/box all the way through the trim shop until it was complete.

When the cab/ box was sent to the roof to kill some time in an overhead accumulator Keith went downstairs to watch his engine/transmission assembly get trimmed out. He noted that it had a cross threaded bolt in the transmission dust shield which they repaired. He saw the engine/ trans placed in the chassis. At this point the body was coming down through an opening in the second floor to be set on the chassis. Keith's truck went down the final line and out the back.

Keith watched a driver move his completed truck through the roll test and on to the short line repair, writing up “AC Charge” (he wanted to make sure Keith had a good one) and “Backup lights INOP”.   Keith cancelled the AC charge check because he didn't want anyone messing with it. He left the second order alone and they fixed the backup lights. Keith drove his new truck off the line and over to the shipping building.

He told the coordinator,

“Lloyd – that’s my truck”

Lloyd told Keith where to park it. Keith left the plant at 1:30 AM Tuesday morning. At 5 PM  of the same Tuesday Keith was waiting at Hank Graff Chevrolet. Graf was 9 miles from the assembly plant. Despite the short trip Keith was still dinged for the $525.00 destination charge!

Keith immediately put the new truck to work performing light duty trailering, parts chasing and leaf hauling. The truck was used year round as this photo attests.

87 chev pickup seymore snow

Keith noted that the truck was a smooth driving vehicle, at any speed, even to this day. It drives straight, with the proper on-center feel, the brakes are perfect. The shifts are smooth because the A833 trans uses automatic transmission fluid. 1987 was the first model year for fuel injection (TBI) in these trucks and it has consistently scored between 20 and 22 MPG since day one until the current times. The truck had no mechanical problems. It never had an accident. After nearly 30 years it still has the original driveline (other than a replacement clutch) and has never had more than the air cleaner off the engine.

For 28 years the truck has been daily driven, racking up over 200,000 miles in Michigan, Arizona and Montana.

Keith drove the truck until his next promotion in 1991. He sold it to his father in law who drove it in Arizona and Montana, until his passing in 2008.  The family offered it back to Keith. Keith bought it back after 17 years. He spent from May to September, 2009 doing a cosmetic restoration.  It now looks exactly as it did when new except that Keith didn't re install the front fender emblems which he hated from day one.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 August 2014 16:06 )