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1994 Chevrolet K1500 - Frankenstein Lives!

Posted in Features on November 1, 2000 Comment (0)
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Frankenstein, the literary monster who was created from parts of different bodies and then juiced to life with a burst of lightning from the sky, wasn't real - he was a fictional character. The vehicular equivalent of Frankenstein's monster could be Jess Anderson's very real, very hard-core '94 Chevy K1500. Anderson started his creation with the burned-out shell of a shortbed, V-6-equipped truck. The lifeless body was relieved of what Anderson considered excess: the roof, the side and rear windows, the tailgate, and the entire back wall of the cab were carted off to the scrap yard, leaving a hacked-up carcass that was certainly not much to look at.

But Anderson wasn't simply practicing his skills with a reciprocating saw and a cutting torch - he was following a plan - one that took a stripped-down, no frills approach to the construction of a late-model 'wheeler. With his truck deconstructed, Anderson set out to make his ride functional again. The initial mods Anderson executed were extreme, but as Jess Anderson is the man in charge of Anderson Custom Auto Body, things were in good hands. The bed was pushed forward and welded to the rear of the cab. The doors were removed - permanently - to give the K1500 a hard-edged, no-nonsense appearance, and a cowl-induction hood scoop pirated from a '69 Chevelle was grafted onto the stock hood.

Now on a roll, Anderson fabbed a rollcage, using 2-inch-diameter tube, then built a tough-looking rear bumper that incorporates a hell-for-strong receiver that accepts the removable front Warn winch when a sticky situation calls for winching from the rear. The front through-the-bumper receiver is also extremely robust and that is where you'll find the Warn winch mounted most of the time. The bottom edges of the front and rear fender openings were slightly trimmed in the interest of providing clearance for the 38.5x11.00x16 Boggers mounted to 16x7 OE five-spoke alloys.

Turning to this hauler's underpinnings, you'll find nothing scary; the front suspension is augmented by a Pro Comp 6-inch lift, while the rear suspension is based on custom-built spring packs held by dropped shackles that deliver 5 inches of additional height. Rancho dampers control the suspension travel; one RS 9000 per wheel does the trick. A Rancho 2-inch body lift is also in place. Both the front and rear differentials contain 4.56 cogs; the rear axle is a swapped-in '96 Corporate 3/4-ton 14-bolt unit shod with disc brakes and equipped with a spool.

The '94's interior is spartan, and intentionally so. After all, with no roof and no doors, on-dirt activities are certain to leave the interior with a coating of Mother Earth. To avoid a monstrous cleanup after every trail ride, Anderson left the OE vinyl upholstery intact and coated portions of the interior, as well as the bed, with sprayed-in bedliner material.

As would befit a buildup of this nature, a heart transplant took place - the donor was a '96 Chevy K1500. The 5.7L small-block V-8 was treated to a few upgrades such as an Edelbrock TBI, an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, a new GM Performance timing chain, and new pistons and rings. The engine's OE Vortec cylinder heads were treated to a valve job and new valve springs; the engine's machine work and the assembly of its internals are the handiwork of Quality Engines in Fargo, North Dakota. A Turbo 400 transmission supplants the original 4L60-E slush box.

We all know how the Frankenstein story ends; suffice it to say that things didn't turn out so well for the monster. However, the story of Jess Anderson's creation has a much happier ending: The creator and his creation went on to enjoy many exciting trail rides, although they did encounter a few fiendish mud holes.

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