Bling Or Zing?
I hate to say what so many others already have, but it's true, you have a great magazine. On the topic of bling or zing, I personally abide by both.
I've spent about three years playing with my truck, a '69 F-150 short-narrow. I began by hacking off the front clip and attaching a '75 AMC Pacer, which gave me a fully independent front suspension, disc brakes, rack-and-pinion, an antisway bar, and about 6 inches of drop. I then flipped the rear over the leaves and, being a sheetmetal worker, replaced the rotten bed with one made of aluminum diamond plate (bling), incorporating 3-inch mini tubs to clear the 29x12.50-15 Mickey meats. A full-roller 400ci with a big stick, carb, and exhaust, motivate the 3,500-pound steel rather nicely to 6,000 rpm (zing). There are still some traction issues to be addressed, but as winter approaches, a four-link rear seems not far off.
My point is that the people I sometimes refer to as "bolt on" still have clean, nice-looking trucks and drive them every day, while others are never done modifying. I'm in the middle again: Once mine was driveable, we hit it with black primer to cover the rust repairs and multicolored panels, and away I went sporting billet wheels (bling).
I think it'd be cool if a truck didn't look as we expect it to. Call it a sleeper, or a work in progress, but a truck that looks rough on the outside and immaculate inside would spark my interest. Today, it seems that the greenbacks aren't going as far as I wish they would, and people love to drive their trucks. They love taking pride in something they helped to create, give birth to, bring to life, and finally show off. My "child" was $300, but I took home a rusted, straight-six farm truck for $175, and ended up with a true joy.
Keep up the good work. As for the answer, it's not or, but and.
William McMullen, West Fork, Arkansas
Thanks for the compliment. It looks as though you're working on the best of both worlds with bling and zing, which seems to be a new trend in building. We also find that older truck owners are less concerned with the bling-bling aspect than they are with building something with a little zing that looks good. And there's nothing wrong with the "bolt-on" people, either. They take a good thing and make it better. In reality, they customize to make it theirs, as we all do. Not everyone is a talented builder with years of custom truck or car building experience. You can build a truly nice truck with just bolt-ons and get all the bling and zing you want through the mail.
How It Works
I'm glad to see the How it Works feature in your magazine. It's similar to the same column that appeared in your cousin, Hot Rod magazine. Although I know and understand the concepts, the features make for an easy refresher when explaining to someone else.
John Ferreira, Chatsworth, California
OK, you caught us. We did "borrow" the How it Works series idea from our sister publication, Hot Rod. If you've been in the magazine business for a long time, you've done just about every kind of story there is. At that point, you often forget that a portion of your readership is new to the sport. Sometimes, getting back to basics is a good way to help folks along in the development of both knowledge and skills, in order for them to build the kind of truck they are looking for. And sometimes, these back-to-basics stories remind us oldsters just how much we've forgotten over the years.
Engine Swap Issues
I own a '90 Chevy Sportside 1/2-ton pickup with a 4/6 dropped suspension, stock 350 engine, and TH700R4 tranny. I also own a '94 Chevy Caprice Classic ex cop car, which has the LT1 engine and the 4L60E tranny. I've subscribed to your magazine for several years, but can't recall if you folks have ever covered the installation of a LT1 and the 4L60 in my year truck.
Can you tell me what, if any, problems I might encounter with this swap? Thanks for your help.
Michael Kelly, Lewiston, Idaho
In theory, you can swap anything into anything, given enough time and money. In your case, however, the swap is not that complicated. In the early to mid '90s, many enthusiasts were fairly successful in dropping tuned-port Camaro and Corvette engines into early GM trucks. The emissions issue may come into play, so check local and state emissions regulations before getting too far into the swap. Physically, the swap is a drop-in. The smart ticket would be to also swap in the Caprice wiring harness and computer so you know the setup will run. The hard part will be splicing that harness into the truck wiring harness so that all the gauges and accessories work, too.
While visiting my favorite parts store's commercial desk, I saw your S-10 special issue and quickly snatched it up for research. The article that really caught my eye was the 300hp 4.3L V-6 article. I read it as soon as I got back to the shop. Much to my disappointment, you managed to achieve the advertised 300 hp from a motor that isn't smog-legal anywhere in a late-model, street-driven vehicle.
I was hoping for some insight into building my '99 S-10 into an import tuner-embarrassing street machine, but had no luck with that from the article. I realize that the CMFI system used in my truck is somewhat a hindrance to producing serious horsepower, but the Vortec heads should be capable, with a little massaging, of some respectable horsepower numbers. Your article also used a non-balance shaft block, but didn't mention the drawbacks of the balance shaft-equipped block other than the obvious; that more metal is spinning around in the block. This was the first time I picked up your magazine, though, so you may have done an article on the current 4.3L in the recent past; forgive my rant if that is true.
What I'm really astounded by is the lack of aftermarket attention to the GM 4.3L V-6, especially given the popularity of the S-series trucks and SUVs stuffed with them. Your article seemed to hint that real performance parts for the 4.3L were unaffordable or nonexistent. Given the similarities to the small-block Chevy and the number of current OBD-II models produced since 1996, you would think that it wouldn't be a great leap for companies such as Edelbrock, Dart, World Products, Trick Flow, or Holley to produce an affordable performance head for the 4.3L.
Sawing off a couple cylinders and using the knowledge already gained from the small-block head castings wouldn't be a big drain on their brain or pocket books. I think it would be a pretty good market, not to mention marketing an MPFI conversion kit that would be compatible with or piggyback to the stock PCM electronics and allow more tuning capability; once again, knowledge gleaned from the small-block.
I visited quite a few of your advertisers' Web sites searching for performance-enhancing products for my truck. It seems that anyone with the capability of bending 3-inch metal tubing, or molding plastic, produces a cold-air intake system. Yet when it comes to the exhaust system, the choices are limited to rear-exiting, single-muffler systems or dual systems that don't work with the stock antisway bar. I also looked into forced induction (superchargers seem to be the only real choice, unless you're into self-abuse), but it was nowhere near affordable for my meager checkbook. Are there any options for someone on a budget who wants performance from a street-legal S-10?
Gene Skinner, via e-mail
You're not the only person who has replied similarly to our 300hp, 4.3L buildup. Actually, we lifted the story from Hot Rod magazine. One of the reasons the staff opted to do the story in the first place was the similarity between the Chevy small-block V-8 and the 4.3L V-6. And as you indicated, one would think that there would be a boatload of performance parts out there for them. It's a shame that we had to go to a carburetor setup to pull those numbers from the 4.3L. A handful of companies make power parts for the 4.3L, including Edelbrock and Comp Cams. Unfortunately, with the EFI setup you have on your truck, they aren't going to do much good. The usual lineup of bolt-ons will help, such as an air intake and exhaust system, but the fuel system will not support such things as a supercharger. Your only real horsepower options, especially if you're looking for 300 hp or more, is to consider a V-8 swap. These can be done fairly legally and offer great reliable power. Jags That Run (www.jagsthatrun.com) has put out two books on the subject that detail the swaps and the smog issues. An inexpensive option, once you get the bolt-on in place, is to add a nitrous system to the truck for push-button horsepower.
I have been a subscriber for more than two years now and I love your magazine. I have an '02 Chevy 2500 HD 4x4 extended cab longbed with the 8.1L engine and Allison tranny. I've added many more custom goodies; however, I need some help. This truck weighs 6,800-plus pounds measured. I added a set of 305/70R16 Terra Grapplers mounted on 8-inch-wide mags. They look and perform great. This truck is mostly driven on the street and freeway, with occasional off-road use. Here's my problem: At freeway speeds exceeding 70 mph on the concrete sections of freeway, an oscillation begins that bounces the rear of the truck and jars my teeth. I know this is due to the overall weight of the truck and the added unsprung weight of the larger tires and wheels. Is there any kind of shock setup that can correct or compensate for this? If there is, I will install them immediately. My teeth and kidneys thank you.
Michael Rasmussen, Rancho Cucamonga, California
We have a Chevy 1500HD in our fleet and experience the same problem as you do on certain stretches of Southern California freeway. With a GVWR around 8,200 pounds or more, you truck has a ton of rear spring in it. With our 1500HD towing a 4,000-pound boat with about 500 pounds of tongue weight, the problem is not as severe. The oscillation comes from the wheelbase of the truck and the spacing of the seams in the concrete, and has less to do with your tire and wheel setup as we have the same combo on our 1500HD. In reality, most trucks will get a little bounce at certain speeds over these sections, but the HD and Ford Super Duty owners seem to suffer the most since their trucks have a higher GVWR. There are two solutions to the problem. We've heard that the new Edelbrock IAS shocks help quite a bit with this problem on the heavier trucks. You might also want to try an adjustable shock, such as the MX6 from Pro Comp or the Rancho RS9000, to fine-tune your ride. The other option is to have a spring shop take a leaf out of the back of the truck to "soften" the rear spring pack, reducing your GVWR. You might even consider adding a little weight to the back of the bed of the truck. While you're at it, check the tire pressures out back. If they're around the manufacturer-recommended 60-65 psi, that's where some of the ride harshness is coming from as well. In an unloaded situation, you can reduce the pressures to improve the ride.
I just got the June '03 issue. You guys are doing a great job; keep it up. My question is about the Sport-Tuned Suspension article on page 80, in which you used a set of Tokico Trek Master shocks. Are they the same-length shock as you would use on a stock height truck, or are they shorter since the truck was dropped 2/4? I have an '01 Silverado and plan on dropping it in the same way, so any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Jodie Rhodes, Bossier City, Louisiana
Because our ride height adjustment was relatively minor, we were able to use the stock-length shock on this application. If you start talking about a 4/6 drop, you're looking at shorter shocks and less wheel travel. Keep in mind that when lowering a truck, you must use the proper bumpstops for the kit. The stops will help keep the shocks from bottoming out and killing the shock valving. The 2/4 drop also helps retain much of the load-carrying capacity of the truck, but for heavy loads or towing, we'd recommend putting some helper airbags out back to keep things level and keep the axle from hitting the bumpstops.
Extended Warranty Worries
I have an '01 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab with a 6.0L motor. Here is the list of stuff that I've installed in the truck so far: a K&N cold-air system, a Granatelli mass air meter, a Poweraid throttle-body spacer, a Tornado, Nology Hotwires, Borla headers and Cat-Back system with dual exhaust, and a Hypertech Power Programmer. My biggest concern is with the extended warranty on my truck. What more can I do to my truck to make it faster without affecting my extended warranty? I do not want to run NOS. I will most likely go with a blower, but that will be about five years down the line, depending on my need to tow more weight. I look forward to hearing from you. Help! I need more speed!
Allan Lee, via e-mail
The warranty issue is a pretty open-ended question. At some dealerships, they would void your warranty based on the modifications you already made. Some dealers are aftermarket-friendly, especially those who sell aftermarket parts and deck out trucks to sell on the lot. As for more power, go with the blower. It will make nearly 100 more horsepower and won't hurt the engine. There are several blower companies out there with good products. Do you homework and pick the one that fits your budget. And don't bother waiting the five years.