Our Stealth Bomber '06 Chevy Silverado project is gaining some real momentum now that we've made it fast as hell and added some decent rolling stock. In the last installment of this series, we bolted on a Wheel to Wheel Powertrain supercharger system, which turned our mild-mannered cruiser into a tire-killing sport truck. Now we are going to cement the Stealth Bomber status with some killer new wheels and tires from Boyd Coddington and Nitto Tire, as well as a few other custom touches.
Since building a killer custom involves buying parts and having to haul them to your house or shop to install them, it makes perfect sense to protect the cargo area of your sport truck. In our case, the Stealth Bomber is a short-term lease vehicle, so our options for protecting the bed are a little more limited but good nonetheless. A spray-in or drop-in bedliner is out of the question, so we opted to install a Wise Industries BedRug to keep the bed scratch-free. The BedRug is cool because not only does it not require you to drill any holes in your bed, but you can install it by yourself in about 20 minutes with Velcro, some clean rags, and a pair of scissors.
To keep up with the motif of this project, we had Endless Powdercoating in Corona, California, strip and then powdercoat our 22-inch Boyd Coddington Impact rims in a deep, gloss-black coating. We had already put 5,000 miles on the rolling stock and grew tired of polishing the rims when we decided to have the wheels coated. The nice thing about powdercoating the wheels is that we'll never have to polish them again. Also, the blacked-out appearance works well with the metallic paintjob on the truck, and the coating won't be effected by brake dust like the raw polished finish would have. We'll be able to easily wipe brake dust, grease, and grime right off the powdercoating each time we wash the Stealth Bomber.
Our tires are from Nitto's NT 420S lineup of high-performance rubber and measure 305/40R22, front and rear. This low-profile size, when combined with our 22x10-inch wheels, will retain the 30-inch factory overall tire diameter, which means our speedometer will remain accurate after the wheel swap.
Our '06 Silverado LS is a...
Our '06 Silverado LS is a great-looking truck in stock form. Stock sucks, though, so we'll be injecting some instant style, right away.
Before we did anything, we...
Before we did anything, we slapped this BedRug into the bed of our Chevy. The BedRug not only protects the bed and cargo, but whenever it gets dirty we just hose it out and vacuum up the dirt.
Our Chevy hauls some serious butt, now that the motor is pumping out more than 300 hp to the rear wheels. Our truck's fuel economy has taken a serious hit, though, with the blower installed. We went from getting more than 21 mpg to slightly better than 15 mpg. Although, a heavy right foot is to blame, and when we resisted the urge to mash the go-pedal at every stoplight for a full 350 miles of driving, the instant economy gauge on the dash returned a steady 17 mpg reading. So, the blower is hurting us at the gas pump, but that's mostly due to our sheer lust for brutal acceleration. The extra ponies are worth the extra cash we are spending on gas.
The stock suspension makes it impossible to take advantage of that power in certain driving situations, though. In stock trim, this truck offers a pliable and cushy ride that is extremely comfortable to commute to work in. The rear leaf springs don't make the truck buck over rough road yet still keep the suspension from sacking out when you pile 300 pounds of tongue weight on the factory-installed trailer hitch. The front coil spring suspension is even softer, which is fine if you never want to drive this truck like a sport truck. The front springs and dampers are so soft that running over even small recesses and lumps in the asphalt at freeway speeds makes the front wheels feel as if they are going to leave the ground. The truck will bounce gently up and down several times after each encounter with lumps in the road. It's the equivalent of riding on a roller coaster at times, especially when merging onto our favorite 180-degree turn, banked freeway onramp.
We haven't addressed the suspension woes because this truck has to be returned to the dealer in a few months. Rather than rip the truck apart right away, we thought we'd see what improvements we could make by plus-sizing our wheel and tire package. Certainly the 70-series sidewalls on our factory tires were doing some of the suspension's job in soaking up the bumps in the road and causing the roller-coaster ride. Trading up from 17- to 22-inch wheels and from 70- to 40-series rubber was a welcome change. The new tires are more than an inch wider at the contact patch and are sticky. Not only can we hug corners at greater speeds now, but the stiffer sidewall has stiffened up the suspension feel ever so slightly, which really helps our confidence when barreling through turns.
On the highway, the rolling stock tracks nicely and straight like the factory package but will grab onto deeply grooved or raised sections of asphalt and pull the truck to one side of the lane if you aren't paying attention. The tires added feedback through the steering wheel, which we liked because before the truck felt like we were floating down the road in a bubble, with little control over where we were going. The Nittos are super-quiet, and we've put 10,000 miles on them with little wear on the tread. Coincidentally, our road test occurred just as the "rainy season" hit California, and we were blessed with several days of wet conditions to test the water channeling capabilities of the NT 420S tires. The Nittos passed with flying colors. We found it very difficult to induce any trace of a hydroplaning condition, unless speeding through water that was more than 1/2 inch deep.
1. After we picked up our...
1. After we picked up our new rollers, we slapped them on the truck and then rode 'em hard for 5,000 miles before realizing something we already knew: Polishing billet wheels is hard work!
2. So, we dismounted our Nitto...
2. So, we dismounted our Nitto tires from our Boyd Coddington wheels and headed over to see Steele at Endless Powdercoating. Steele informed us that because our wheels are a multi-piece design, the brake dust and road grime had made their way into the tiny crevice between the wheel center and outer hoop. The wheels would have to be chemically stripped in addition to sandblasting the surface in preparation for the powdercoating.
3. Once the wheels were ready...
3. Once the wheels were ready to accept the powdercoating, the surfaces that needed to remain uncoated, such as the center bore of the wheel where the center cap would insert into, were taped off.
4. The wheels were then racked...
4. The wheels were then racked and placed in the spray booth, where the negatively charged wheel rack and positively charged powder were joined via the spray gun. A black light was employed to spot any areas of the wheels that weren't coated perfectly.
5. The wheels were then placed...
5. The wheels were then placed in the gigantic oven and baked for 1 hour at 425 degrees F. An hour after the wheels were taken out of the oven, we had them mounted, balanced, and back on the truck. The entire process took just one day.
6. The finished product, even...
6. The finished product, even without a lowering kit installed, already looks like a million bucks, and we are constantly getting asked how we got our wheels painted black.
We are pretty happy with the Stealth Bomber as she sits right now. She's fast, sleek-looking, and rides well. Our lease is nearly up, though, so we are limited on what we can improve upon in the short amount of time we have left. We are going to make a few more style improvements before returning the truck back to stock, and we'll report on that, as well as how much it costs us to operate this truck in an upcoming installment of the Stealth Bomber series.