Cyber-Junkyard Wars: We Build a Killer Sport Truck on eBay Motors
Ever wonder what it's like to purchase a vehicle online from a Web site such as eBay Motors? And how about buildup options? Can you build a quality sport truck from parts found on the Web? Just how thoroughly can you tailor your truck this way? And how good are those online bargains out there? Are they really as great as they're made out to be, or are they mostly hype?

We're about to find out for ourselves, and we'll let you know what we discover as we embark on our newest buildup project: the Primedia Editors' Charity Challenge.

Ten Primedia editorial teams - including Sport Truck magazine and our sister publication, Truckin' - have been given a specific budget to purchase, design, build, and modify a project vehicle using eBay Motors. Over the next few months, we'll be scouring the site, buying a truck, scrounging for parts, placing our bids, and turning wrenches. Along the way, we'll tell you what we've learned about the art of how to cyber-build a street truck, and hopefully pass on some tips that can help you find the baddest online bargains out there.

And the cool thing is, after we're done, you'll have a chance to own our finished creation. Once completed, our truck - and all the other Primedia project rigs - will all go back to eBay Motors, to be put up for auction with no reserve. Proceeds from all auctions will go to charity, and you'll also get to vote for which Primedia vehicles you like best in a variety of categories, including Best Overall.

In-depth Charity Challenge coverage begins in next month's issue of Sport Truck magazine, on sale August 10, 2004. Stay tuned in future months for additional buildup stories. And check out www.sporttruck.com and www.editorscharitychallenge.com for regular updates in the meantime.

2nd Annual Magnaflow Nationals
The second edition of the annual MagnaFlow Nationals car show, presented by Kontradictions truck club, is becoming one of the places to be in late April. The show drew several automotive celebrities and some very high-quality custom vehicles.

Mario Andretti and Ivan "Iron Man" Stewart were the guests of honor, but the crowd also got to rub elbows with designing legends Boyd Coddington and Chip Foose as well as get a chance for an autographed poster with racer Terry Borcheller and the MagnaFlow girls.

The cars in the show were by invitation only, but the show was free to the public. More than 175 vehicles and 3,000 people made it to the event to enjoy several legendary cars, such as a Panoz GT race car, the Boyd AlumaTub, several race cars from K&N, and the 1,000hp Prolong Nash Metropolitan.

Grave Digger and the Ameriquest Mortgage Monster Truck thrilled the kids, and MagnaFlow made it easy to find your preferred addiction by arranging the show vehicles in specific areas. The areas included Truck Town, Sport Compact Row, and the Street Rod/Musclecar area.

MagnaFlow staged a four-hour SuperCar buildup, where the crew built an '04 Mustang Cobra. Right before the eyes of the showgoers, the install crew bolted in Denso plugs, an Optima battery, a CenterForce clutch, Eibach and Bilstein suspension components, Hotchkis goodies, American Racing wheels on Yokohama tires, and, lastly, a K&N FIPK and MagnaFlow after-cat exhaust. The combo reportedly made 58 more horsepower at the wheels.

For more information on next year's event, or to get the inside scoop on MagnaFlow's product line, contact: MagnaFlow Performance Exhaust, 22961 Arroyo Vista, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688, (800) 824-8664, magnaflow.com.

Hummer H3 Exposed
Catching the new Hummer H3 with minimal camo' was quite a coup for our factory moles. The new downsized Hummer H3's timing couldn't be better in light of the rise in fuel prices. Consequently, our sources tell us the downsizing may actually increase Hummer sales by as much as an estimated 100,000 units annually.

This smaller and less expensive Hummer is actually a derivative of the newly introduced Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon midsize trucks. But the H3's SUV body layout is styled with aggressive Hummer cues and additional off-road capability.

From what we gather, the '05 H3 will be powered by a straight-six and should be priced nearly $75,000 less than the H1, and around $15,000-$20,000 less than the $50,000 H2. The Oshawa, Ontario-built H3 is shaping up to be a bargain if it remains in the $30,000-$35,000 range when it arrives at dealerships in mid-2005.

New Truck Review
'04 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
Chevy's New 1/2-Ton Four-Door Delivers Cabin Space, Comfort, And Style

GM's Silverado 1500 line of pickups is offered in so many configurations, you'd think there wasn't any room for a new model that actually had some pent up demand for it. But there was one - in hindsight at least - blaring hole in the lineup: a 1/2-ton Crew Cab. Previous to the launch of the new 1/2-ton Crew, the only way to get a four-door cab in the Silverado line was to step up to a heavy-duty chassis. If you needed the power, towing, and payload capacity of the HD, no problem; if you didn't but still found the need or desire for the roomy four-door cab, then you had to pay the extra freight for the HD and deal with an industrial quality ride. Chevy's new 1/2-ton Crew is intended to fill the latter buyer's needs.

So how's it to drive?

It handled the high-speed curves and low-speed switchbacks on our mountain test-loop better than expected. As mentioned, the ride is very good. It's soft and almost falls into the mushy category, yet still maintains a performance feel. The use of a stiff-enough antiroll bar to control body lean while still allowing the soft springs to travel, combined with appropriate shock valving, give it a smooth, comfortable ride over irregular road surfaces. The Crew is pretty heavy, so you get a lot of tire noise in the corners. The tires are typical OE: soft sidewall; tuned more for ride and straight line stopping than performance handling.

We did note a couple of minor weaknesses in the truck's ride quality. The length of the frame allows it to vibrate more to a given level of road shock than the Extended Cab and standard units. The frame vibrated enough over some rough patches that road grip and braking were reduced. The shocks can't do their job if the chassis is vibrating. But the frame settles quickly and was only a handling or braking issue very briefly. We felt the suspension tune allowed too much vertical movement in the nose at times, causing the ride to porpoise too much when driving over road surfaces such as less-than-perfect railroad track crossings.

Overall, however, we were impressed with the ride and handling of Chevy's new 1/2-ton Crew Cab pickup. On smooth roads, it corners and rides nearly as well as the shorter-wheelbase versions, and, in fact, stops better. The longer wheelbase offers advantages in ride, particularly over freeway expansion chamber chop. On our test-loop, with severe chop, the Crew's ride quality was equal to the Toyota double cab. The Toyota had one of the best rides in our Sport Truck of the Year competition and excelled in the area.

The new Crew Cab comes with a 5.3L V-8 that produces nearly 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. For most, those should be adequate power levels, though we'd like to have the option of selecting the 6.0L. Still, the 5.3L's power is reasonable, getting the truck to 60 mph in 8.54 seconds. That's not as quick as some, but of all the new crew cabs we tested in the Sport Truck of the Year competition, the only naturally aspirated vehicle quicker to 60 mph was the 5.6L Nissan Titan.

But the real selling point of the truck is that the spacious Crew Cab is loaded with a good mix of conveniences and entertainment. The seats in this truck are super-comfortable. The DVD system's a must-have, as is the XM satellite radio, and the Bose-tuned audio system sounds and plays great. Our opinion is that the sound system is more than adequate for most and is a good base from which to tune - perhaps adding a subwoofer or upgrading the stock speakers.

Our bottom line on the new '04 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab is that it's a pickup that really fills a need and it should do well with suburban buyers looking for a manly alternative to minivans. It also seems to us a solid base on which to build a custom sport truck. Its long, lean limo shape would look great laid out or lifted. We can also see it pro-streeted or in dualie trim.

Reaction Time
Likes:
comfortable seats; roomy, well-designed and -styled interior; Bose DVD/XM satellite entertainment system; good handling; wonderful ride

Dislikes: rough-road frame shake degraded handling and braking; lack of 6.0L engine option

Stats:
Year/Make/Model:
'04 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab Fleetside

Base price: $34,173 (not including DFC of $850); price as tested: $36,593

Vehicle type: fullsize 4-door pickup; front-engine; rear-drive; 2WD and 4WD available

Construction: body on frame

Engine: 5.3L Vortec V-8; fuel-injected, 325-cid; cast-iron block; aluminum heads; OHV; 2 valves/cyl.

Horsepower: 295 @ 5,200

Torque: 330 @ 4,000

Fuel: 87 octane

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 4L60-E 4-speed automatic

Suspension: 2WD: F: coil springs; 36mm high-pressure gas-charged monotube shocks; 32mm stabilizer bar. 4WD: F: independent w/ torsion bars; 30mm stabilizer bar. R: solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs; gas-pressurized shocks

Traction Control: std. 2WD

Wheel: 2WD: F&R: std. 16-inch painted cast aluminum. 4WD (including Z71): std. 17-inch polished cast aluminum

Tire: 2WD: P255/70R-16 all-season radials. 4WD: P265/70R-17 on-/off-road radials

Brakes: F&R: vacuum booster; four-wheel disc; four-wheel ABS; dynamic rear proportioning (DRP)

Wheelbase (in): 143.5

Length/Width/Height (in): 225.9/78.5/72.6

Track (in): F: 65; R: 66

Turning Circle (curb to curb, in ft): 2WD: 46.6; 4WD: 47.3

Curb Weight (LBS): 4,866; 4WD: 5,175 (Wt. Dist: 2WD: 57/43; 4WD: 60/40)

Tow Rating (LBS): 2WD: 7,800; 4WD: 8,500

EPA City/HWY/Combined mpg: 2WD: 16/19/17; 4WD: 15/18/16

Fuel-Tank Capacity/range (Est.): 26 gal/2WD: 442 mi; 4WD: 416 mi

Acceleration 0-60: 8.54 secs.

Braking 60-0: 130 ft

Dodge Ram SRT-10
Team Awarded Sport Truck Performance
Truck Of The Year Trophy

Even though NASCAR doesn't let 'em run Hemis, the Dodge boys are still fast. It took us a few months to catch up with Dan Knotts and the PVO team after we commissioned the first-ever Sport Truck Performance Truck of the Year trophy to the PVO team that developed the Dodge SRT-10.

The SRT-10 was such a huge leap forward in sport truck performance that we decided to establish a special award to acknowledge such a milestone. And since we were establishing a precedent for this special award, we wanted it to be unique to the vehicle and the team. That's where Greg Spradlin came in. Spradlin's specialty is, as he says, making "horsepower for your walls." His automotive art is influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, and he brings that sensibility to his commissioned work. We had him turn an action shot of the SRT-10 smoking the tires with PVO's vehicle dynamic engineer Steve Lyman at the wheel in the red, white, and blue helmet, into a work of art. You can find Greg Spradlin on the Web at www.gregspradlin.com

We're Not Making This Up: Liquid Armor
Liquid armor for Kevlar vests is one of the newest technologies being developed at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to save soldiers' lives. It should also make them more effective as well as offer great consumer spin-off opportunities. Reportedly, this new technology produces body armor that's light and flexible, allowing soldiers to be more mobile and flexible so they can run and aim their weapons better.

Liquid armor is made with what is called a shear thickening fluid (STF). STF is composed of hard nano-particles of silica suspended in polyethylene glycol, which is the essential element of engine coolant that can withstand a wide range of temperatures.

"During normal handling, the STF is very deformable and flows like a liquid. However, once a bullet or frag hits the vest, it transitions to a rigid material, which prevents the projectile from penetrating the soldier's body," said Dr. Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer from the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate who heads the project team.

What's this got to do with sport trucks? Absolutely nothing. But the technology is so cool. Besides, there are other applications, since to make liquid armor, STF is soaked into all layers of the Kevlar vest. The Kevlar fabric holds the STF in place, and also helps to stop the bullet. The saturated fabric can be soaked, draped, and sewn just like any other fabric. So it seems to us this'd be a great product to protect race drivers and spectators at motorsports events. If they can also use the material for bomb blankets, to cover suspicious packages, and even apply it to jump boots, so that they would stiffen during impact to support soldiers' ankles, why not apply it to motorsports?

Spied: '06 Mercedes ML 55 AMG
Our spies caught the next-generation ML 55 AMG version with far less camouflage than ever before. The all-new Alabama-built performance sport ute should be arriving late next year as an '06 model. There's been no word yet on the performance capability of the new machine, but we anticipate the '06 AMG version should pack at least as much fire power as the earlier versions.

The 19th Annual Fabulous Fords Forever!
At Knott's Berry Farm

For the past 18 years, in April, the Ford faithful gather at Knott's Berry Farm to celebrate the brand. This year, Ford enthusiasts celebrated the Mustang's 40th anniversary, 45 years of the Galaxie, and 65 years of the Mercury marque. The show pulled entrants from all over the U.S., and we'd have to say it was the best celebration of 40 years of Mustang outside of Dearborn. We saw more than 2,000 rare Fords, including displays by Ford Racing, Ford SVT (Special Vehicle Team), Saleen, Shelby American, and others. The event ended with the traditional presentation of the Johnna Pepper and Bill Stroppe trophies as well as the new George Watts trophy.

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