WOW!!!!! quite an impressive reply. Thank you for taking the time. I am actually building it as a street cruiser and an occasional trip to the track for fun. More so, I prefer to stay with my carb'd 350 4-bolt main. I can build, tune and maintain these oldies in my sleep and that means less stress and money for me, LOL. My goal is just a good sounding, clean and "pro stock" looking ride. Can't afford to go all out and honestly not sure I have the desire anymore.A fuel cell in the bed gravity feeding a inline pump will keep your fuel system simple. Using a fuel pressure regulatior with a return line will keep your fuel cool and at the same pressure.
1st gen dashes are simple. Keeping the dash, steering column, heater, doors stock is going to be less work then starting fresh.
The wiring is simple and you can easily build a fresh harness. Keep the wiper delay/turn signal controls if possible.
Then you simply pull the pins at the plugs or cut the wiring at the plug and extend it with fresh wiring.
Engine wise you only need like 6 wires. You can run power to the key then key on power to the coil and starter silionoid as far as that circuit is concerned.
A 8.8 you can run two short shafts and it fits rather well. This also lets you use factory stuff insided a shortened housing avoiding custom stuff.
Engine and transmission wise a cable driven 2000ish 5.3 mated to a th400 turning a 8.8 with 3.73 gearing is hard to beat.
You can start off with the 5.3 stock running the engine off 6 wires(dirty) with vats/egr deleted.
If your more comfortable with a carburated engine I would still run a th400. I have ran a gravity fed walbro 225 to a carburated regulatior. Currently running a 225 on a 87 square v1500 using the factory tbi regulatior with no issues at all.
The 225 and a regulatior just gives you the option of running a LS later without changing your entire fuel system.
If this thing is going to the track most of those want the pump in the fuel cell. You can still run a high pressure pump and regulate/return it.
Suspension wise a refreshed factory front end will perform. Caltrac out back on some refreshed stock springs then play with various shock ratios.
Cage wise you need to ask your self what your really doing with this to fit within the rules.
A v8 makes things tight. If you can run a tilt front end and stay within the rules that is going to make doing maintance much more easier.
I run 2 big pins at the front and then 2 hood pins(on each side) at the bottom of the fenders. I use rubber to hold the pins. I just weld angle iron to the hood then have 2 pieces of plastic that drop close to the top of the frame. This keeps enough water/rocks away from the engine.
I hate tight engine bays.
I am building my 2nd mid engine v8 s10 currently. You stuff the engine where the cab was previously.
My first I used a 95 extended cab frame 355, th375, and shortened 8.8 and I dropped a cj5 jeep tub on the back. Made engine work simple.
My current moneypit is a 94 standard cab where I just threw the 94 cab over the rear axle. This thing was rusted bad. So I shortened the frame (80" wb) and built a new raised floor for the cab.
I could have built it out of a 1st gen. But the 94 stuff is easier to find and no love is lost cutting the bottom cab/doors of a 2nd gen. Its going to be fun fast toy with lots of room to run one or two turbos. But I cant run a standard track legal cage how its built. I am ok with this just being a street toy.
You need to ask yourself from the start what your plans are with this thing. If you just want a fun v8 powered driver thats simple. If you want something your taking to the track that changes things. Maybe you want to stuff the engine behind the cab and run the thing around a track.
Start with a piece of paper and make up a build sheet with a budget/time frame. Dont forget you will need tools to add to the final budget.
Double that final budget and the time frame then you will have a realistic build laid out to start looking for parts for.
My stock wiring; after digging into it more looks to be pretty much toast. At this point, I am 99% sure I will order a new harness and go from there. I am however saving all the connectors from the old stock harness. I will shave the firewall smooth, paint and start back from there. If I add A/C at some point, I will use some variant of a Vintage Air setup and just keep it as clean as I can. Living in Texas, I am more about comfort than looks. I have all the tools and equipment I need. I've built many hot rods and such alongside my Dad. When he passed, I inherited his tools as well so I am more than stocked up in that dept. My biggest deficiency is money, LOL. My money tree is not very healthy so this will be a long project. Thanks again for all the good info and tips.