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  1. #1

    Default 1st year of computers on GM trucks?

    Hello from England, We are looking to buy an GM vehicle to to use tow with, we are flexible, pick up, van or surburban. What we don't want is one loaded with computers, we like to fix our own stuff. Can you guys tell us which year things got complicated? We are thinking that pre 1981 is about the right era. Thanks for any info. Ted n Jan
    Ps We will import the right vehicle from the US,

  2. #2
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    Pre 02 did not have much But if you want one more reliable then yes one built before the 81 time frame..
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    I LIKE TO DO MY OWN WORK ALSO.
    To a large extent the computers-mainly just one-electronic control module- make it easier to fix things.
    A 1996-1999 vs a 1981- no comparison.
    1) from about 1974-1985 of so the 350's were absolute dogs- really slow, really guzzlers-and most are rusted out by now.
    Because of various regs-all the manufacturers had to drop compression, lean up the carbs,add all sorts of vacuum lines to attempt to get carbed vehicles to not pollute.It didn't work very well.They probably were rated at about 175 hp-at best-and they usually had off idle stumbles.They also got horrendous FE- NO POWER, PITIFUL FE-worst of both worlds. The 96-99 have second generation "real fuel injection" as opposed to throttle body FI which are ok, but inferior in power(200 hp vs 250 hp) and FE.
    2)On a pre 1981-many things will be OLD-30 years old-
    They also give better- much better FE.

    3) all you need is a $100 code reader on a OBD2 vehicle-and it almost tells you what is wrong.In truth it narrows it down a lot- you still need good basic knowledge- but it is worlds better than using some points carb vehicle that need new points every 6 months-
    Consider the last 350's-5.7's roughly 1996-2001(vans and maybe some pickups stayed with the 5.7 a bit longer-most GMs went to the 5.3 in about 2000.It is a good motor drivetrain- but it is more complicated a guess and there were some problems with early 5.3(they sounded like they had piston slap etc.
    Charlie
    OBD 2 MEANS ON BOARD DIAGNOSTICS- you plug your code reader in to a unde dash plug and it tells you where the problem is- not exactly what is wrong- but puts you in the correct area.I think every USA vehicle from 1996 on is OBD 2 equipped.Code readers are cheap-under $100
    Last edited by phoebeisis; 09-11-2011 at 08:46 AM.
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    I would think finding a pre-81 Chevy van worth importing would be rather tough, no? Is there a market for these vehicles that I am unaware of?

  5. #5

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    If I were going to import I'd probably go with a 84 to 91 Suburban, they had some electronics but with a good internet connection for info and some mechanical knowledge you could make a truck in that year range pretty much electronics free.
    ABS in that year range can be defeated by pulling the fuse, EFI and TBI systems are easily swapped for a carb, other than those systems the manufacturers hadnt gotten crazy with OBD and all the other systems yet.
    When your talking popularity those year trucks and their parts are widely available (even through most of Europe thanks to the U.S. Military importing them for use overseas).

  6. #6

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    I believe 1981 was first year for a computer. It was just for the distributor timing, I believe.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by silveradotrailblazer View Post
    I believe 1981 was first year for a computer. It was just for the distributor timing, I believe.
    Thats what I was thinking too, but I also remember a few aftermarket performance manufacturers made kits to allow you to use a vacuum advance distributor instead.

  8. #8

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    tbplus10, I believe Crane Cams was one of the first to make the aftermarket vacuum advance kits for the distributor.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
    I LIKE TO DO MY OWN WORK ALSO.
    To a large extent the computers-mainly just one-electronic control module- make it easier to fix things.
    A 1996-1999 vs a 1981- no comparison.
    1) from about 1974-1985 of so the 350's were absolute dogs- really slow, really guzzlers-and most are rusted out by now.
    Because of various regs-all the manufacturers had to drop compression, lean up the carbs,add all sorts of vacuum lines to attempt to get carbed vehicles to not pollute.It didn't work very well.They probably were rated at about 175 hp-at best-and they usually had off idle stumbles.They also got horrendous FE- NO POWER, PITIFUL FE-worst of both worlds. The 96-99 have second generation "real fuel injection" as opposed to throttle body FI which are ok, but inferior in power(200 hp vs 250 hp) and FE.
    2)On a pre 1981-many things will be OLD-30 years old-
    They also give better- much better FE.

    3) all you need is a $100 code reader on a OBD2 vehicle-and it almost tells you what is wrong.In truth it narrows it down a lot- you still need good basic knowledge- but it is worlds better than using some points carb vehicle that need new points every 6 months-
    Consider the last 350's-5.7's roughly 1996-2001(vans and maybe some pickups stayed with the 5.7 a bit longer-most GMs went to the 5.3 in about 2000.It is a good motor drivetrain- but it is more complicated a guess and there were some problems with early 5.3(they sounded like they had piston slap etc.
    Charlie
    OBD 2 MEANS ON BOARD DIAGNOSTICS- you plug your code reader in to a unde dash plug and it tells you where the problem is- not exactly what is wrong- but puts you in the correct area.I think every USA vehicle from 1996 on is OBD 2 equipped.Code readers are cheap-under $100
    X2. My 98 K1500 has 247,600 miles on the original engine. There is a thread here somewhere that lists all the common issues with the 5.7L engine. I have had the intake manifold gasket changed twice. A job I could do but choose not to. Good Luck!
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