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I found a little 1991 S10 Baja #476/635 in WA last year 2018. I wanted to take it apart and see if it matched? I am glad I did. There are too many components (to list) inside and out that was worn beyond limits and otherwise a real hazard to any driver. This truck had seen the Off-Road definitely!
So how does an average guy think it's possible to do all this stuff on his "own" with a regular set of tools?
I did the logical thing, opened up the laptop and began with Research and Development last Oct 2018. And in May of 2019, I commenced disassembly. Bagging and tagging everything with over 400 photos of where things go.
Now you might be thinking?? "What is this guy disassembling? What is he really restoring? Answer: "EVERYTHING" I have a Frame Off restoration in full effect.
I have taken down to the last nut, bolt, wire harness, and fluid line. Now those nuts, bolts, wiring, and fluid lines have been removed. I have an empty Cab on blocks, A 6' Bed on blocks loaded up with the large soon to be replaced components and a garage full of NOS OEM replacement and repair parts. I am going for GM and AC Delco replacement parts. Now the hard part isn't the S10 parts, the hard part is the "Baja" specialty parts. Those are next to impossible to locate. I have found all the original fabric for the seats and interior. I found a replacement for the missing front differential shield and even the Light bar and spare tire mount that is bed mounted. A previous owner thought a camper shell would be nice? Luckily I found the light bar and bed mounted spare tire carrier. Research the past year has me still looking for Fog light covers and seals for the roof vent window (aka manual sunroof)
I figure this will be about $16k project, to bring this truck back to its original ($19k MSRP) dealership appearance (Glen Grant Chevrolet WA) on delivery day, Mar 11, 1991.
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frame off Baja Jun 2019.jpg
 

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You should replace the weak 2.8 with a late model ls 5.3 or 6.0 , then once restored if you decide to sale you would have no problem finding a buyer

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Putting an LSx in it would not be a restoration...j/s.
 

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Putting an LSx in it would not be a restoration...j/s.
Well I mean restore the cab & chassis and update the drive train . But you are correct if you modify anything it's not considered a restoration. But imo anytime you improve on something it's a plus!

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Guess it really depends on whether the OP wants a true restoration or a resto-mod.
In this particular case I vote for a pure restoration.
V8 S10's can be found every where and never sell for what they cost to build.
Watch the BJ auction next week in New England. You'll see resto mods that had to cost over $100k to build sell for under $50k.
A true BAJA, although not currently big in collector circles, should at least be worth close to what he puts into it.

I think the current exception would be early Broncos. This year they are hot and are going for insane prices no matter what was done to them.
I wouldn't buy one because the market can't go anywhere but down when they fall from fashion.
 
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Thanks for checking my post out! To answer questions on my intentions, I am going to do a factory restoration. These are rare in numbers and even rarer to spot on the roads? It will be a garage queen once I am done. I am using as many OEM, NOS GM-ACDelco parts as I can locate. The s10 parts are everywhere, finding quality Baja replacement parts, crazy difficult.

A follow up to the earlier question on the "weak 2.8L", I have a stock powerplant: 4.3L-Z (LB4) w/700R4 (MD8) and NP231C gearbox as well as 3.42 ratio gears front and rear.

My Progress since last post, more tear down and inspections.
I Just got the frame back from media blasting and was very surprised at how well the frame held up to thirty years of WA rain. I only had one area that required any correction from excessive pitting where the rear cab mounts sit. This was very easy to build up the metal and file it smooth.
Here are a few frame picks. The etch priming begins shortly, followed by the Raptor coating of the frame and supports.

Where am I at... well where do I begin? so many things going on at the same time. The engine is in the Hot tank soaking. Measurements will be taken soon to see where I sit and what I can do to help breathe new life into this 160HP truck (LOL). In the coming week I will take a course with the school of shift and rebuild this 700R4 using parts from the monster in a box, soon the 700R4 will be upgraded to a stronger more reliable. The rear end was opened and measured out all good. The axles need polishing and definitely replacing the outer bearings. The passenger axle pad showed signs of pitting from the outer bearings. The bearings will be replaced and I'll see if the pitting polishes out.

Allright break time over back to the garage and prepare to paint the chassis.
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They very rarely ever end up being worth what you put into them. That never mattered much to me either. It looks like you started with a decent one. I have a friend of a friend with a bedless one in the weeds on his farm. I'm not real big on 4x4's otherwise I'd be more interested in rescuing it.

Despite the work ahead of you it'll be super rewarding to kick back and admire your work when you're done.
 

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yep how to make a small fortune restoring vehicles.....




























start with a large one.
that said I still restore a few,have 3 in storage awaiting the right time.
 

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If your rebuilding the original 4.3 at least put the GM CPI camshaft in it for a little boost in power. It's still stock parts and would go nicely with the beefed tranny. A set of 3.73 or 4.11 gears would perk it up too since it's a 4x4 and they would have been GM stock optional. Basically look restored but be better inside the original components. Looks like a fun project.
 

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thanks for the comments and ideas. I will never expect to get rich restoring the Baja, but I will have learned one thing.... you're never too young to retire and have time to play with your toys. lol. Seriously, I spend all day/night researching, calling and questioning this truck and all its components. I want to use as much GM and ACD parts as I can locate as well as finding the "real" Baja limited parts.
The 4.3L -Z actually was built stock with a strong reliable billet cam. This one showed hardly any wear over 29 years. I am having it re-ground to include a larger lift and installing a larger exhaust valve to increase fuel efficiency and performance.
as far as gearing, I am keeping this as factory stock as possible, so the 3.42 ratio remains in the front and rear.

used the raptor liner spray system to protect the chassis after the blasting and etch priming. now I am going to wait about 3 more days to flip the frame and spray the stuff I missed. If you ever decide to raptor liner a frame.... stuff comes out quickly and I needed every bit of the four, liter bottles that came in the kit just for the top half of the frame (completed). All in all, it will take six, liter bottles to complete a standard cab, short box, 108" chassis.

also, I sent the trans and xfer gearbox to a reputable guy in my area to open and inspect. The engine was dipped and cleaned, worn and tired but she will reap many more years after the builder finishes his machine work for me. And finally, I sent a few parts to the powder coating company. Pictures to follow...

Now that I was able to post up more pics, I must commence pressing, hammering, drilling, cutting and chiseling out all the old rusted and rotted bushings from the leaf springs, upper and lower control arms. This is the most boring part of the process so far, takes a little elbow grease and a few hammer smacks on my thumb to free these bushings.
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Retrieved the first bunch of parts from powder coating shop and dropped off the 2nd bunch today. Very pleased with the results. pics to follow.

Picked up the 700R4/NP231C from overhaul shop. This combo is ready to install once the engine machining is complete. Deliveries have been hitting the doors left/right, I have attained a lot of the parts. They will likely all be New, NOS, OEM and similar parts made from GM and ACDelco where applicable. The blood pressure spiked with excitement.

Fingers crossed If everything stays on track I'll commence assembly on Aug 1st. I have attained about 40% of the materials I need to place the powertrain and suspension back on the chassis.
valve cover before powder coating.jpg
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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks in Advance!!
Can anyone point me in the right direction to find torque values? **The German method (good-en-tight) isn't within the scope of the blue-print restoration.

To clarify, the rear drum backing plates have three bolts that secure the plate to the 10-bolt axle housing?
14mm x 1.00 thread brake shoe hold-down pin (12 o'clock)
(two) 6mm x 1.00 thread securing bolts (4/8 o'clock)
 

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Great project ! I’ll keep watching . My 88 actually has an OEM Baja black chrome grill , the real deal . I bought it soon after I purchased my S-10 in 88 , hated the silver grill from the get go .
 
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