Would greatly improved aerodynamics make a significant improvement in fuel economy on my '88 Chevy S-10 Extended Cab pickup? I have the 4.3L V-6 and an automatic transmission. I get acceptable gas mileage compared to fullsize pickups, but I'd like to do better. I'd also like to come up with some radical aerodynamic changes just for the sake of doing something different.
I've noticed that many famous race cars have very small frontal areas. Cars like the slant-nose Porsches, Ferraris, Dodge Daytona Chargers, and Plymouth Superbirds, LeMans racers, etc. have almost wedge-shaped noses. Land speed record racers are super-low, thin, and smooth. NHRA Funny Cars are basically a fiberglass wedge that we're supposed to believe is a Mustang or an Impala.
I've thought about various slant-nose cars that maybe I could adapt such as the slanted-grille Vegas, early-'80s Dodge Charger nose sections, various Corvette front ends, or just making something out of metal or fiberglass. I also thought about a radical roof chop with slanted A-pillars and maybe a larger windshield from a car.
I realize that I could buy a tanker load of gas for what it might cost to build a radical S-10, but I'd also like to do it to stand out from all the other S-10s in the world.
On a more practical note, would taping body gaps, door openings, making a mostly solid grille cover, smoothing around the bumpers, and adding a big front spoiler make much of a fuel economy improvement?
It's pretty basic physics that the less wind resistance a vehicle has the less power (or fuel) it takes to move it. Less weight is another basic way of improving efficiency.
As a matter of increasing fuel economy your ideas are false economy, but as a way to build a unique street truck they have merit. An S-10 that's as low and slippery as a Bonneville Salt Flats racer would be neat but not practical unless it had an adjustable suspension to get over speed bumps and potholes. Study photos of actual Bonneville cars and take your styling cues from them.
A chopped top would be great. If vehicle laws aren't an obstacle, how about going for a super, super low lid like those on iconic '34 Ford coupes from the '50s? Those coupes had "mail slot" windows. You could recess the front edge of the roof so a larger windshield could be used for reasonable forward vision while keeping the roof height to a minimum.
Spun-aluminum racing discs (also known as Moon discs) on tall, skinny tires would be part of the Bonneville look and offer less rolling resistance than heavy and wide wheels and tires. You could fabricate rear wheel skirts, but that might confuse the look with a kustom or lowrider. A hard tonneau cover would be a must.
People who want to run a street car on the dry lakebeds have been known to "streamline" them with duct tape. Anything that reduces air resistance improves performance/fuel economy. This includes a low stance, front spoilers, side skirts, tucked in bumpers, shaved emblems/handles, aero mirrors (consider some motorcycle mirrors), and a solid nose (old Superbirds had a small air inlet down low on their extended noses).
Diesel Dos And Don'ts
I own an '06 Ford F-350 with the 6L diesel. Will off-road fuel usage damage the engine mechanically in any way?
We're not exactly sure what you mean by off-road fuel, but we're guessing it might be diesel fuel used in farm machinery or nonhighway vehicles. The difference may be as simple as one fuel pays road taxes and one doesn't. Skipping the ethics of not paying your share of road taxes, the key issue regarding your truck is whether the formulation is the same as what Ford recommends for your engine. Your owner's manual should state fuel requirements. Contact the supplier of the off-road fuel and ask if its fuel is the same as what you can buy at a regular gas station.
If it was our truck, we wouldn't use anything but top-quality diesel unless we were stranded in Baja and had to use whatever fuel was at hand to outrun Pancho Villa. Harming almost anything in your diesel's fuel system will easily cost more to repair than any savings from running substandard fuel.
Yeah, We Love That Truck Too
Hey guys, I've read your mag off and on and I love some of the trucks you feature. For instance, the truck on the cover of your July '08 issue, the F-350, is awesome! I'm more of a Chevy guy, so the red Suburban with the 49-inch Swampers is frickin' sweet! But what I really wanted to say is the truck on page 119 of that issue is one of my favorites. Maybe, you can do that truck as a feature. The paint and detail are amazing! I just wanted to say your mag is awesome and keep up the good work. Someday I might be in the mag!
Thanks, Kevin, but there are four different trucks on page 119 of the July issue. We love 'em all. Which one were you talking about?
I have a show truck that I do not take out of the garage in winter (it is being stored). I have had different people give me different answers and I would like to know your answer. I will be placing my truck on floor jacks during winter. Where should the floor jacks for the rear axle be placed? Should they go near the tires (outward), near the ball (inward), or in the middle between the ball and wheels?
I receive several truck magazines and Sport Truck is tops! That is why I am asking you and not anyone else.
We're going to assume that by floor jacks you mean jackstands because even the best floor jacks tend to leak down over time and that would result in your truck sitting crooked over the course of a winter storage period. The procedure for storing your truck in the air is different if you have airbags rather than coil springs on your truck. If you're truck rides on air, then you need to not only support the chassis via jackstands at all four corners but also the rear axle and front control arms. This will prevent the airbags from overextending and pulling apart at the upper and lower mounting plates. If your truck rides on coil springs, this is not a concern and you can simply support the chassis up front and rear. It sounds like you'd like to support the rear axle as well, and if that's the case then we recommend placing the jackstands centered between the differential and wheels. Because the chassis is also supported, there's little weight on the axletubes aside from the weight of the wheels and the axle itself, so you don't need to worry about bending the tubes.
You're In The Mag Now!
I am a current subscriber to your magazine and have previously had my vehicle shown in the Homegrown Haulers section. My truck is a '99 SS/S-10 Extended Cab. I am preparing to completely overhaul my truck's custom exhaust system into a true dual exhaust system with full-length headers.
What I want to know is what it would take to have the photos of the job I am doing shown in your magazine. I have seen many other projects in your magazine and am unsure as to whether individuals took their own photos or if your staff takes the photos. I have not started any of the work yet. I will wait until I hear from you.
I intend to do all of the work on this myself. Not only am I replacing the custom exhaust that is already on my truck, but I am converting it from an EGR to a non-EGR system. I will also be removing the third oxygen sensor. This will require using the Jet Dynamic Spectrum tuner that I have purchased as well.
Tony, thanks for your email. Hopefully, this reply finds you in time so that we don't hold up your exhaust project too long. We'd love to see photos of the work you do, but at this point we couldn't say whether or not we can print them. First, we need to see if they are of printable quality. Second, we are wondering what the reason is for replacing the EGR equipment. Since you are a California resident and subject to the same smog inspection the rest of us are, then your new exhaust design will present a problem every two years when it's time to test the truck.
Hi there! Model inquiry for Kevin: I'd love to find out if there's a place for me between your covers ;) All kidding aside, what's the best way to submit photos to be considered for a pinup feature? I don't have my own truck, but I do have a decent set of wheels. Thanks kindly!
J.J. "Dynamite" Wilder
Kevin doesn't have covers. He sleeps in a coffin. There's not much room in there for anyone else, but you can send your portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org and he may just get back to ya about a feature shoot.
The power antenna on my '90 Silverado is stuck in the up position. I noticed that it wouldn't go down after I installed a new battery. How could installing a new battery cause the antenna to quit working?
Various GM products, including '89-'90 C/K trucks equipped with the Delco Advanced Electronically Tuned Radio and power antenna, have been known to have antenna problems after installing a new battery or after jump-starting a dead battery.
Sometimes fixing the antenna is as simple as turning off the radio, turning off the ignition, disconnecting the negative battery cable from the battery, and then reconnecting the cable. That may reset the retraction function.
If that doesn't fix things, the problem is most likely with the radio's software. Fixing that requires sending the radio to an authorized Delco service center.
The Case of the Disappearing Company
I want to know where you found the Rotrex C38 supercharger that was put on the Stealth Bomber '06 Silverado project truck. Mike Finnegan wrote an article on it (Apr. '07). Also, what is the difference between the C38 and an STS turbo kit? Where do you guys find such great mechanics? I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Do you know of any here? What product do you recommend? What about do-it-yourself? Please enlighten me. I just bought and installed some Baer brakes. I would like to put them to the test!
Unfortunately, Wheel 2 Wheel Powertrain, the company that distributed the supercharger kit for our truck, is no longer around. The Michigan-based company was full of great talent, and although it's out of business a few of the engine builders and fabricators who made it great have opened their own shops. You can contact Kurt Urban at J&K Racing in Commerce, Michigan, via telephone at (248) 345-8169 or email at email@example.com. Billy Briggs can be reached by visiting www.wot-tv.com. Either one of these guys can help you out in your quest for more power for your LS engine.
The difference between the C38 kit and an STS kit is that the C38 is an engine-driven supercharger and the STS turbo is an exhaust-driven turbocharger that is mounted behind the catalytic converter. Either kit accomplishes the same goal of forcing more air into the cylinders of the engine than the atmospheric pressure can deliver on its own.
As for a capable performance shop in Arizona, we would recommend contacting Arizona Speed and Marine at (480) 753-0208 or www.azspeed-marine.com.
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