First off, I want to start on a good note and say that the magazine is great. However, I am not too impressed with this year's, or last year's, Sport Truck of the Year competition. How can you, the editors, seriously think that we, the readers, buy that these trucks are in the same class to compete? You have taken extended cabs loaded with accessories such as four-wheel steering and placed them against lighter and faster regular cabs. These trucks in the competition are built to work, not run ( i.e. HD in the name!). For the last two years in a row, this is how the competition went. The Lightning is hands down the best sport truck. But I own an `02 GMC Sierra with the 5.3L engine, and even naturally aspirated, it's still a strong truck for the task of daily driving and the occasional burnout. I normally don't write because I am generally pleased with the magazine, but the "competition" does not seem fair. It seems as though you're stacking the deck to make your pick look better, which just takes a lot away from your magazine.
- Carl Pecora, via e-mail
Since we're getting ready to start the 2004 Sport Truck of the Year competition, we thought it would be a good time to run your letter. First off, we never claim that the contestants are in the same class in the competition. For a truck to be eligible for the competition, it has to be new or improved for that model year; that often leaves us with a wide variety of competitors. This year's test will be a good example. We'll have a five-cylinder Chevy Colorado in the group along with the 10-cylinder Dodge Ram SRT. Based on your opinion (that the Lightning is the "best sport truck"), the Ram SRT should be the hands-down winner. So why do the test? Well, the test is more than just performance numbers. We spend a minimum of two weeks living with these trucks. They get thousands of miles on them from everyday driving, hard-core testing, and usually one long road trip. We learn the strengths and weaknesses of the vehicles, and the testers in the group have their own likes and dislikes as well. In the end, we compile all the data, including the performance stuff, and determine a winner. The testing procedure and scoring has been tried and true over 10 years, and it works. Sorry your opinion doesn't match ours.
Years ago, you ran an article about calibrating the speedometer in a `91 Chevy C1500. I believe it dealt with the flipping of different switches on the back of the speedometer in order to get the speedometer to read correctly. Where could I get this information to recalibrate my speedometer?
Eric Locher, via e-mail
Yes, it was years ago that we ran that story. As the author, I remember it vividly. If memory serves, on the earlier C/K pickups there was a piece that was inserted into the back of the instrument cluster that had pins on it. Calibration of the speedometer was based on transmission type, rear-end ratio, and overall tire diameter. All of these measurements were fed into calculations, with the final number corresponding to which pins in the plug got removed. As I recall, it was best left up to the experts. Our suggestion is to take the truck to a speedometer shop and let the crew figure it out. Otherwise, without the proper formulas and conversion table, you could end up making things worse. For a seat-of-the-pants idea on just how much your speedo' is off, find a measured mile, such as on the highway where the white lines off to the side designate a mile, or just use mileposts. As you cruise by one of these lines or posts, note the mileage on the trip odometer since most of these will read in miles and tenths. At the next line or post, which should be exactly 1 mile, note the reading on the odometer. It should be exactly 1 mile different than the first one. If it's a tenth less, your speedometer is off by 10 percent and is reading slower than the real speed. If it's a tenth over, it's still off by 10 percent but is reading faster than the real speed. Once you know the percentage, you can guesstimate your actual speed and maybe avoid a ticket. Your best bet, however, is to have the truck checked on a speedometer shop's dyno because they're calibrated for accuracy.
More Greetings From Iraq
As a longtime Sport Truck reader with plenty of time on my hands these days, I feel compelled to write. Greetings from Iraq! Yeah, it's still hot - averaging 125 degrees - and there's still no A/C, but you get use to it. Oh well, at least I still have my Bible, plenty of water to drink, three meals a day, and a place to lay my head.
This deployment has been an experience and a half, and it just keeps getting better. I mean, Iraq is one of the places where biblical characters walked and lived. We will be moving north toward Baghdad soon, but I am still anxious to come back to the States. On the good side of things, according to the newspaper that soldiers get here, Baghdad temperatures look to be a little bit cooler. Kuwait generally hovers around 117, while Baghdad averages 110 degrees. I heard that there are trees up there, too. To all my friends and family, please don't stop writing me. I do enjoy reading your letters and just bear with me, I will respond to you when I have time. And if you've sent care packages, here's a huge thank you. Keep 'em coming! Pictures, newspapers, letters, munchies, stuff from the rez, DVDs, CDs, I'd love just about anything that allows me to keep in touch with home. Here is my new address; grab a pen and paper:
Staff Sgt. Arviso, Ollie #24, 806th AG Co./
Alpha, Camp Babylon, Iraq, APO AE 09332
Just remember, when you send stuff, make sure you make the zip code big and clear; also, Priority Mail is the best. And please, wrap it well. To my wife, I love you very much. To all my friends and family, you guys have been very supportive to me, and I just want to say thank you. When God's will is done for me here, I will be home.
- Operation: Enduring Freedom 2003, Staff Sgt. Oliver Arviso, aka Ollie
Staff Sgt. Ollie has been a longtime reader of Sport Truck magazine. His Chevy appeared in the magazine several years ago, and Ollie has been interested in custom trucks for quite some time. We met Ollie when he was single and working at Truck Creations in Scottsdale, Arizona. Today, he is a married family man who is serving his country in Iraq. While we normally don't print personal letters, we felt Ollie's story is not unlike many of our other readers who are serving their country in the armed forces, away from friends and family. We salute their efforts and wish Ollie and his colleagues a speedy return home.
Bigger Wheels Need Better Brakes
I would like your advice concerning the brakes on my '03 GMC Yukon XL 1/2-ton with the 5.3L. The brakes on this vehicle have felt weak since the time it was new. With only 5,200 miles on it, the pedal pressure required to stop from moderate speed seems excessive. I put 20-inch wheels and tires on it when it was brand-new, and while I realize this puts increased leverage on the brakes, do you think this could make a major decrease in the performance?
My daily driver is a '99 Ford F250 4x4 light-duty (7700 GVW) with four-wheel discs, and it wants to throw me through the windshield if I jump on the pedal too hard.
What do you think of the new brake kits available with bigger discs and brackets to relocate the OEM calipers? Are these Mickey Mouse Band Aids, or are they a viable alternative to the $6K variety? Thanks in advance for your help.
- Jim Coffey, Santa Clarita, CA
The big wheel and brake issue is something we addressed awhile back. In our June `03 issue, we ran a story with Baer Brakes about stopping distances after going to larger wheels and tires. Ironically, the guinea pig for the story was a Suburban like yours. The bottom line is that the increased rolling mass and weight of the 20-inch tire and wheel combo does increase stopping distances. Period. Baer's Erradispeed upgrade, which contains larger drilled and slotted rotors for each corner and a new caliper mounting bracket to accommodate the larger-diameter rotors, does help fix the problem for a lot less money than a new brake setup. But according to our test data, it brings the truck back to the braking performance it had before the wheel and tire change. If you had an issue with a soft pedal even before you put on the new rollers, we suggest you remount the stock rubber and take the truck back to the dealer to have the brake system checked out. Otherwise, you'll need to consider some sort of brake upgrade. Check out the story we ran for some real specifics on stopping distances with your size truck.
Caddy Engine Swap
I have been reading Sport Truck for about 10 years, and it's a great magazine. My question is about an engine swap. Right now, I have a '90 Chevy Stepside with a 350. It has pretty good power since its fitted with headers, a 2-1/2-inch exhaust, an MSD ignition, a K&N air filter, and a Hypertech chip. But my real problem is similar to everyone else's: I need more power. I have a friend with a '75 Cadillac, and he wants to sell it for cheap. It has a 500ci 8.2L motor that still runs.
Would that motor fit in my truck without too much modification? If so, which tranny would be best? I am planning on getting the motor up to around 550 hp.
- Dave Smith, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
If you operate under the assumption that anything is possible, then dropping that Caddy motor in your truck will not be a problem. Never mind the fact that you'll need custom motor mounts, the Caddy transmission to go with it, and will have to solve a myriad of other electrical and linkage problems. And we won't even mention any emissions issues. Also, just because the Caddy engine is 500 ci, don't assume it will make 500 hp. If you're looking for a solid 500hp package, GM offers a 500-horse version of its 502ci big-block. Of course, it's a carbureted engine and you'll need a transmission capable of holding 500 lb-ft of torque. And then there's the linkage and fuel system issues, and of course, the engine is not emissions-legal. But, hey, at least you'll have your 500 horses.
Ram Air Intake
I'm a new subscriber and I just wanted to drop you all a line to let you know that the magazine is really helpful. I also have a tech question. I have a '99 Chevy Silverado with the small 4.8L V-8 engine. I have a K&N filter, a 50-Series Flowmaster muffler, and the Hypertech Power Programmer. I also have a functional Keystone ram air hood. My question is, Would it be more productive to add a K&N FIPK system or a ram air intake? I've debated this with many people and have received many different answers. I appreciate any help you can give me.
- Ryne DeVore, Harrison, AR
One of the basic principals of power is to get as much cold air into an engine. Chevrolet used this principal in the cowl-induction system on its `70 SS Chevelles and El Caminos, while Mopar used the Shaker Hood setup on Cudas and Challengers to get as much cold air into the engine as possible. So, the optimal setup would be to duct incoming air from your ram air intake hood to some sort of sealed airbox. Ideally, you could use the K&N FIPK and figure out some sort of underhood ducting that would route air to the FIPK. We've seen it done before, and it works well. Don't forget provisions to drain out water and keep it out of the intake tract when the weather gets wet.