When rumors of an all-new Chevrolet SS pickup began to circulate approximately two years ago, most performance enthusiasts envisioned an updated version of the old standard cab big-block SS pickup. Many were hoping the new SS would be able to compete head to head with the Lightning by sporting some sort of blower on a small-block powerplant. However, when the overweight and overpriced SS Extended Cab hit the dealer lots with a price tag of nearly $40,000, true pickup performance enthusiasts were not impressed - and not buying.

Recognizing a void in Chevrolet's factory performance offerings, three-time Super Bowl-winning coach and two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Championship-winner, Joe Gibbs, teamed up with his son Coy, who is also a NASCAR competitor, to come up with their own line of performance trucks. From the onset, the focus of the new operation, Joe Gibbs Performance, was to be on performance-oriented products to be delivered to select Chevrolet dealerships throughout the country. The company hopes to sell both standard cab and Extended Cab versions of the Chevy Silverado, along with a Joe Gibbs Performance version of the Chevrolet Tahoe.

Each Gibbs Performance Silverado is recognizable by the Joe Gibbs Performance badging both inside and out, along with the unique Gibbs-designed 20x8.5-inch Hyper Silver wheels wrapped with 275/55R20 Goodyear Eagle LS tires. With a slightly lowered ride height and black monochrome appearance, each Silverado will sport a custom front fascia complete with driving lights; a tailgate spoiler; a body-colored rear bumper; and a stainless-steel, dual-tip after-cat exhaust system.

On the inside, Gibbs Performance Silverados feature embroidered-logo seats and floor mats, along with a silver-and-white-face, Gibbs Performance-logo gauge cluster. Manual transmission trucks carry a cool NASCAR-style floor shifter and boot with a Joe Gibbs Performance/Hurst-style shifter ball on top. Options on the trucks include an intercooled roots-style supercharger, (courtesy of MagnaCharger), Baer Racing Eradispeed brake upgrade, and Gibbs-designed leather-and-suede seating. The Gibbs Performance Tahoe boasts many of the same features, but adds an audio/video package with a DVD-based entertainment system.

Pricing on the Silverado ranges from $29,900-$37,500 for the standard cab models, while Tahoes will cost between $42,000 and $47,000, depending on the options and whether it's a two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The company intends to produce 1,200 Silverados and 1,200 Tahoes for '04. On top of the GM three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, each Joe Gibbs Performance vehicle will be offered with a five-year 75,000-mile powertrain warranty, which helps take the worry out of owning a supercharged vehicle.

"Not a lot of people get the opportunity to drive a truly high-performance vehicle," commented Joe Gibbs Performance president, Coy Gibbs. "Anyone who drives one of our Joe Gibbs Performance Silverados will be satisfied. It's a fun truck to drive, and having that extra horsepower makes it even that much better."

To find out just how much fun Coy Gibbs was talking about, Joe Gibbs Performance sent us one of its standard cab models for some real-world testing. Our test mule was loaded to the gills with all the optional goodies, including the MagnaCharger blower, Baer brakes, and leather/suede interior. It was also a basic-black standard cab model fitted with GM's smallest small-block, the 4.8L, which was backed up by a five-speed manual transmission sporting the NASCAR-style shifter. It arrived just in time for a 500-mile road trip to Tucson, Arizona, for a truck show and drag competition, and to do some Saturday-night cruising on the boulevard.