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1996 Chevy Z71 4x4 Extended Cab - Texas Heat Wave

Right Front
James J. Weber | Writer
Posted February 1, 2001
Photographers: Team OFF-ROAD

A Smokin' Z-71 From The Heartland

If you've ever lived in or been to Texas, you know how hot it gets. One hundred degree heat with 100 percent humidity is more of the norm than the exception. Yet the weather is not the only thing burning up the roads in the Lone Star state. Enter Travis Kirtley's '96 Chevrolet Z-71 4x4 Extended Cab. A resident of Cypress, Texas, Travis works as a construction foreman. He relies on his truck to take him wherever his work may be on any given day. With this in mind, he decided that he would forego driving a run-of-the-mill work truck and attract some attention between each job site instead. He purchased his rig brand-new for $28,000 and put into it an estimated $15,000. We get the feeling that he does indeed attract a crowd wherever he goes.

Getting the truck to ride on the massive 39.50x15x15 Mickey Thompson Baja's mounted on 15x14 Weld Racing rims was no easy feat. Being a longtime customer of Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers in Houston, Texas, Travis appointed them with the duty of raising his rig to a more respectable height. After all, in a place where you are judged by the height of your truck, you had better be able to run with the big dogs or you'll find yourself sitting on the porch, watching them pass you by. A Pro Comp 8-inch suspension lift kit with a 3-inch body lift seemed to be just what the doctor ordered to accommodate the desired rims and tires. With the new lift in place, the crew at Four Wheel Parts added a pair of 1-ton torsion bars to the system and gained an additional 2 inches of front lift. As if that weren't enough, the drop shackles for the rear leaf springs were flipped upside-down to gain another 2 inches of lift in the rear. Finishing off the suspension system are 18-inch chromed Pro Comp shocks.

In order to turn such huge tires, the factory gears were swapped with 4:56s, and the gear housing was replaced with a chrome cover. The performance modifications that were made to the stock 350ci Vortec V-8 include a Hypertech Performance power chip, billet valve covers, an Optima gel battery, stainless steel braided hoses, a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust system, and chromed Gibson shorty headers. When all is said and done, the truck accrued 400 hp.

With his dream truck at the proper height, Travis began focusing his energy and attention on the overall aesthetics of his rig. Wanting something totally unique, he called upon Cutten Customs of Houston to begin the transformation from daily work truck to unique show vehicle. Literally first on the chopping block were the emblems, the body moldings, and the door handles. With these items removed, it would give the truck a cleaner overall appearance. Included in the shaving process was the tailgate handle and the rear bumper. The team at Cutten then began restyling the truck with a fiberglass cowl-induction hood, a full phantom grille, a split billet front bumper with teardrop inserts for foglights, a shaved steel roll pan, fender flares, and a chromed rollbar in the bed. Of course, they followed the adage: If it's not chromed, then it's painted. They applied a fresh coat of factory GM Victory Red paint. After the paint and body improvements were completed, Travis installed six KC Daylighters on the rollbar and had a bedliner applied to the bed.

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