Tech Stuff

Jok Nicholson’s New LS-10 Project Truck (aka RED 2)

Truckin’ On!

Words and photos by Jok Nicholson

Brought to you by S&W Race Cars, QA1 and the love of drag racing.

Cab and frame stripped down. It is -- or was -- a 1991 S-10.


I have been planning and working on my latest drag race project for about two months. It all started when I sold our two door cars: Project Firebird and the “Oldsmobilology” ’72 Olds Cutlass.


We set a couple goals for this S10 truck and as of today it looks we might have our nicest door car yet to go along with probably the most “read about” project car in magazine history, our “Project 4-Link” dragster. We started the Project 4-Link in 2000 and took it to the track in 2001. Since then it has won national events, divisional events, big bucks bracket races, local track championships, and is still as good as any new chassis on the track today. We now refer to our dragster as RED. We went with “red everything” several years ago. Body, wheels, etc. So, the plan is similar for the S-10. RED-2 is born.


The “LS-10” will receive the complete S&W Race Cars S-10 rear frame package as well as their 10-point cage and front and mid-mount motor plates for the 5.3 LS engine. Our suspension movements and control will come from QA1 double adjustable shocks. It will be a “big tire”, 14x32, car and hopefully it will never spin a tire. LS 5.3/power-glide/alky carb will all be very basic components.


I found out some interesting information as we are getting into the LS-10 Project. You can get just about everything to make a new S-10 from aftermarket suppliers. I am now a favorite customer at Rock Auto, LMC Trucks and Mill Supply. Every piece of front suspension, front brakes and front sheet metal is replaced. When you can get a new fender for $41 and radiator support for $90, why in the world spend time trying to get rust and old paint off!


In this initial short Tech Feature I can tell you two things that worked to near perfection.


1. The S&W Race Cars rear frame assembly, four-link, anti-roll and rear end housing. The only thing we needed to trim, as per instructions was the piece of tubing to mount the anti-roll bar and trimming the stock S10 frame as we fit and installed the S&W welded rear frame. Instructions were “spot-on”.


2. We installed the QA1 dbl-adjustable front Pro-coil over shocks and springs instead of using OEM style coil springs and a standard shock. Really a nice setup, bolts to original mounting holes and spring sits perfectly in the stock spring pocket.


I am currently done with the frame, front suspension and have that painted. As pictures show we removed the cab and after stripping it of about everything I started on body work. I have always liked doing the body repair, paint prep. No doubt something left over from 10 years of body work and owning a body shop. Had some rust panels to weld in and a bunch of poor quality prior body work to grind out and get straightened out. I feel confident the S10 will be a sharp looking ‘lil bracket truck.

More articles are coming as we get ready to start on the roll cage install and get the LS engine mounted.


The engine plans, at this time, is basically a stock 5.3 LS with mild hydraulic roller can, bushed rockers, Victor intake with George Rupert alcohol carb and MSD LS ignition. We want reliability over fast and we want to be able to double enter two brackets if that option is available.


Bare frame before sandblasting. The 25+ years of Iowa highway salt had done some damage.



We didn't leave a thing in the inside. The plan is for a custom built steering column, dash, master cylinder mount and throttle mount.

The ‘old stuff’ has to go somewhere, right? I made two trips with a very full box to the salvage yard that took the parts for free. The only things we sold were the hood, the 5-speed and the 2.8 engine, and fuel tank.

S&W welded rear frame before install.

Finished frame. I will do a separate article with more details later on the frame work but I can say this now: It fit great and made it easy to look like I know what I was doing.

S&W rear frame attached to the stock frame before trimming the rear section off.

Anti-roll bar mount and torsion bar mount in place, above the rear frame rails. It takes a bit of "honing" to get bushing to fit. I used a die grinder with a slotted arbor and 60 grit emery paper. About 20 minutes and it fit great.

The S&W 9" Ford housing with rear brace will be part of another featured article but it is a really nicely done piece. Bolted in, every 4-link part fit perfect the first time. Picture shows the temporary install of anti-roll bar cross member below the frame but we ended up putting it above the frame to allow more room to get third member in and out.  



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