15 Best Ways To Make A Classic Pickup Truck Comfortable


Okay, so you just bought yourself an authentic, classic pickup truck. You’ve always wanted one to work on, and now you have a DIY job on your hands. But you quickly find that your classic truck is ridiculously uncomfortable compared to modern cars. The last thing you want is a modern pickup truck… but is there any way to convert your classic to at least feel a bit more modern, i.e. safe and comfortable?

Yes, there is! There are tons of things you can do to make your classic pickup truck more comfortable, safer, and nicer on the road. These go from changes to your suspension, to smaller changes like new seats, to simply getting better mirrors. The price ranges on these changes are drastic, and some will help more than others, but we’re here to give you a few ideas.

Here are 15 of the best ways to make your classic pickup truck more comfortable.

15 Add Air Conditioning

clean interior classic truck with AC
via Pinterest

Many classic pickup trucks don’t have air conditioning. Nothing will add more immediate comfort to your ride, especially in hot climates, than installing an A/C system. These kits can be quite pricey, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 on average, depending on if you’re starting from scratch or not. A new air conditioning system or refrigerant upgrade is a huge comfort upgrade.

14 Convert Rear Suspension To Four-Link Coilover Setup

pickup Four-Link Coilover Setup
via Hemmings Motor News

A suspension kit can help your truck handle more like a car. By converting the rear suspension of your pickup using a notch cut in the frame for rear axle clearance (plus other things like cutting off the factory lower shock mounts), to create a four-like coilover setup, you’ll have a stiffer suspension that has more locating points, plus adjustability, according to Hemmings.com.

RELATED: Here Are The 15 Easiest Classic SUVs To Restore

13 Re-Engineer Front Suspension For Rack And Pinion Steering

rack and pinion steering install
via Street Muscle Magazine

While the rear suspension kit above is pretty simple, creating a rack and pinion steering setup for your truck is more of a re-engineering of the entire front suspension. The rack and pinion steering will include new upper and lower control arms—Detroit Speed can do this for you—and you’ll have better caster and camber gains for a better-handling truck.

12 Install New Types Of Comfortable Seat Cushions

bench seats classic truck
via Face Tag

This is a nitpicky item, but if you’re on a long trip and are looking for comfort… wouldn’t you want really comfy seats? Replacing your traditional seats with air seat cushions, or memory foam seat cushions, bench seats, or beaded seat covers, or gel pad cushions, or even a new factory seat pad, or a heating and cooling seat cushions—or even using a pillow!—all of these options can help, and there’s so much to choose from these days!

11 Reduce The Unsprung Mass

weight of wheels
via Classic Industries

This is another suspension upgrade you could do to have your truck function like a strong, secure passenger vehicle. This is one of two steps in creating a smoother suspension—reducing the unsprung mass. You do this by reducing the combined mass of the truck’s underside components, with less weight to the tires, wheels, hubcaps, and suspension parts.

10 Soften The Suspension System

softer suspension system
via Hemmings Motor News

The second step for a smoother suspension system for your pickup is to soften the suspension system, which will make shakes and bumps on terrain be absorbed easier. This will give you the most immediate change to the driving experience and ride quality. First, you replace the preexisting shock absorbers with a lighter set, then the springs of the vehicle need to be replaced by a softer pair, which we’ll touch on more below.

9 Get New Leaf Springs

via General Spring

This is the second step of the second part of softening the suspension, as mentioned above: replacing the springs of your car with lower-rated leaf springs. New and improved leaf springs will help improve your suspension, according to GeneralSpringKC.com. Though they’re biased (they’re a leaf-spring company), they are correct. Regardless of the size of your truck, leaf springs will give you the needed lift and smoothness from your ride.

8 Add Fuel Injection

classic truck with fuel injection
via Smoky Mountain Traders

Installing fuel injectors into your classic truck is a way to modernize the truck in a hurry, helping it deliver fuel to the combustion chamber. A single throttle body EFI conversion kit can set you back about $2,000 to $2,500, or $3,000+ for a port EFI kit, depending on what kind of injectors, fuel pump, and electronic controls you need. This is a good investment, however, and will help improve your fuel mileage and emissions, too.

7 Change The Wheels And Tires

new wheels and tires classic truck
via Pinterest

This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many truck drivers opting for a smoother ride don’t think to change out the wheels and tires. Big wheels with low-profiled tires are aesthetically pleasing, but undermine comfort of the ride. To have a more comfortable ride, choose wheels that are lightweight and narrow, ideally measurements not exceeding 18” in diameter and 7” in width; and tires that are thin and tall, preferably with a 60+ aspect ratio (via GeneralSpringKC.com).

6 Modify The Chassis

C10 chassis
via Lowrider

In heavy trucks, the components connecting your tires can affect your steering ability and driving smoothness, so you’ll want to modify the chassis to help. Lightweight suspension parts will especially help a lifted truck ride smoother—components made of carbon fiber, ceramic, aluminum, and the like. In general, trucks also drive smoother with independent suspension.

5 Eliminate The Vibrations

classic truck underside
via Art Morrison

If you inspect the underside of your truck and see that anti-vibration parts need to be replaced, do it—this will help protect the chassis from vibrations on a turbulent road, and impacts. Consider using new body bushings, and double-stacking rubber rings on the coil springs. Coat the rings with grease before setting them into place to prevent the rubber from making noise.

4 Add New Disc Brakes

installing new disc brakes
via YouTube/BROTHERS Truck Parts

You might not want this if you’re big on the originality of your classic, but one of the first modern upgrades you should consider is a new disc brake system. If your truck has outdated drum brakes, consider adding a disc brake kit to the front wheels—adding more stopping power can increase the value of your car down the road, too. This is one of the best ways to make your truck safe, which is huge for comfort.

RELATED: 15 Cheap Pickups That Are Perfect For Your DIY Projects

3 Install Some Good Mirrors

classic truck new mirrors
via Ford Truck Enthusiasts

This is something you probably haven’t thought of, but it has a more subconscious value on safety and comfort and reducing stress. Getting good mirrors, either aftermarket or otherwise, ensures that you’ll eliminate blindspots and widens your vantage. Convex mirror add-ons can also help. Knowing what’s always going on around you can help reduce stress magnificently.

2 Add Power Steering

via Brothers Classic Truck Parts

If your truck strains your biceps every time you steer, you might want to consider installing power steering. Rack and pinion power steering differs slightly from regular rack and pinion steering, and this great investment will make your life a whole lot easier right off the bat. This is another no-brainer, but it depends on how much you want your “authentic classic” to feel authentic.

RELATED: 15 Classic Pickup Trucks Discovered In Dusty Barns

1 Get Rid Of Emissions Safeguards

70s pickup truck
via Medium

Many classic trucks from the ‘70s and afterward were implemented with emissions standards safeguards to cut down on pollution. Nowadays, new pickups are about 99% cleaner than older models. But you can remove all those old emissions standards—which will limit much of your truck’s capabilities if you don’t—and manually make the truck much more efficient and clean.

NEXT: The 5 Cheapest Classic Pickup Trucks (And The 10 Most Expensive)

References: quora.com, hemmings.com, generalspringkc.com, angieslist.com, cdltrainingspot.com

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