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2001 Chevy 2500 4X4 HD - Heavy Duty Hot Rod

Posted in Features on August 1, 2002
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Fact: The 4x4 front suspension of Chevy's new HD trucks is so similar to the 2WD front suspension that a majority of their components are interchangeable. Thus, a properly engineered suspension lift for a 4WD HD will fit a 2WD HD with only minor mods, and this interchangeability factor is precisely what inspired Al Mata to build a too-tall 2WD Heavy Duty.

Al's no stranger to the pages of OFF-ROAD magazine; his tricked '01 Super Duty - resplendent in Fox shocks, a 14-inch National Spring lift, and 40-inch Hawgs - was the subject of our Dec. '01 cover, and that super-sized Blue Oval still generates calls to our offices from readers who want more information on the big, red truck. Al's also no stranger to wildly modified trucks - his Temecula, California-based shop, Al's Performance, has developed a much-deserved rep in SoCal as a top source for wickedly modified 4x4s.

Al's '01 HD sits atop a CST suspension, which uses scratch-built 4-inch lifted steering knuckles and a complete array of suspension relocation brackets that lift the entire front suspension a total of 8 inches. For fluid wheel travel, dual Fox Shox with remote reservoirs are positioned with custom shock hoops and mounts built by Al. The HD's rear suspension follows traditional design parameters, making use of 8-inch lifted CST spring packs, 4-inch blocks, Fox Shox on custom mounts, and Firestone airbags intended for a semitruck application. While Al was at work on the suspension, he removed the parking brake's OE cable actuating linkage and went with a system he had successfully used on his severely lifted Super Duty: a drag race-style Line-Loc, where an in-cab switched valve controls hydraulic pressure on the parking brake's linkage, thus eliminating the hassles associated with the stock linkage when it's used on a severely lifted truck.

As to the wheel and tire combination, Al selected what he felt was the best combination of style and performance available: Weld wheels and Mickey Thompson tires. The huge M/T Baja Belted tires check in at 38.5x15.50x16.5 and exhibit a wide footprint, which lends a lot of stability to Al's 2500 HD. The Bow Tie's Weld Stone Crusher wheels (16.5x9.75) are certainly up to the task of off-road abuse and supporting the weight of a heavy truck, since their forged two-piece construction creates incredible strength; that same forging process makes for a tight grain structure that, when polished, produces a deep, blemish-free appearance.

The engine powering Al's HD is what many enthusiasts consider to be the General's best truck engine: the new-age Rat. Displacing 8.1 liters, the big-block is a smooth and powerful V-8, but Al installed a K&N Filtercharger to free up the Rat's breathing. When the big V exhales, it does so through a set of The Other Guys Headers, which are electroless nickel- coated, and on through a set of Mufflers West- built exhaust tubes and a Spin Tech muffler. The 8.1 Vortec sends its power through one of GM's bulletproof Allison transmissions, which spins an Inland Driveline-fabbed driveshaft that powers a 14-bolt rear axle cogged with 4.10 gears.

An HD Crew Cab offers a boatload of interior space, and Al figured it was just calling out for a kick-ass sound system. And kick, it does. An Eclipse head unit and a Zapco EQ deliver signals to a quartet of Phoenix Gold amps, two of which send 1,000 watts to the Eclipse mids and tweeters, while the other pair pumps 1,200 watts through a trio of 10-inch JL subs. Moreno Valley, California-based Modern Image installed the sound system and custom-built the subwoofer enclosure. To add the finishing touch to the electronics package, Modern Image also installed a Sony PlayStation and a Python Alarm.

On the exterior, Al's Heavy Duty is close to original with a few custom touches intended to enhance the HD's style. Auto Center Auto Body painted the door handles, mirrors, and grille shell, PIAA lights were added, a Trenz grille insert was installed, then the truck's lower rocker panels were emblazoned with dice graphics. No radical body mods, to be sure, but the result is clean and eye-catching.

As stated, it's cool to realize that the General engineered its 2WD and 4x4 HD trucks in such a similar way that many of its parts and components are interchangeable. Certainly, lifting a 2WD truck with the already-proven 4x4 suspension components made the buildup of Al Mata's redhead a whole lot simpler and quicker, since there are few aftermarket manufacturers tooling up to fabricate complete 12-inch lifted suspension systems for late-model 2WD trucks, and scratch-building a 1-foot lift for a late-model IFS truck is a daunting task. Of course, now that the 2WD/4WD swapping secret's out, we can only anticipate a slew of radically lifted, big tire-shod two-wheel-drive HDs hitting the roads and trails around your town and ours - and that's just fine with us.

Owner/hometown Al Mata/Temecula, California
Make/model {{{Chevrolet}}}/'01 Heavy Duty Crew Cab 2WD
Suspension CST 4-inch lifted steering knuckles; CST 8-inch
suspension cradle lift; {{{Fox}}} Shox (two per wheel);
custom shock hoops (front); CST 8-inch lifted
spring packs; 4-inch blocks; Fox Shox (two per wheel); Firestone airbags (rear)
Wheels/tires 16.5x9.75-inch Weld Stone Crusher/38.5x15.50x16.5 Mickey Thompson {{{Baja}}} Belted
Engine/transmission Vortec 8.1L V-8 with K&N Filtercharger; Allison five-speed automatic
Additional features {{{Eclipse}}} stereo; JL speakers; Phoenix Gold ampli
-fiers; The Other Guys Headers; Spin Tech muffler;
Line-Loc-actuated parking brake; braided steel brake lines

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