This straight-axled beast of a Chevy Silverado is the personal plaything of Frank Bertao, owner of Full Throttle Suspension. You might recognize the Full Throttle name because it's a company that specializes in fabricating hard-core lift kits for hard-core trucks. The crew at Full Throttle routinely performs straight-axle conversions using its own line of parts, and creating trucks that are not only tall, but capable. Full Throttle is just as adept at building IFS suspensions, although you won't find a hint of the factory IFS on Frank's Chevy. Frank's personal ride is the epitome of that passion: a standard cab pickup that towers above a set of 40-inch tires and is still agile enough to romp mercilessly through the dirt, crushing everything in its path with the strength of a rhino.
We admit that the first time we saw this truck, we pegged it as just another big, lifted disco truck that would fall on its face the first time it hit the dirt. Boy, were we ever wrong. Frank takes great joy in driving this rig from his hometown of Bakersfield, California, to not-so-nearby Pismo Beach for long weekends of climbing the dunes and runnin' the hills. By the time we finished our photo shoot in Barstow, California, which coincidentally happened near the start/finish line of the MDR racecourse, a notoriously rough section of desert, Frank had proven us wrong by flogging his truck over and over again for our cameras. Credit the clean and well-designed suspension system that his company crafted for the truck's off-road prowess and durability. Let's take a look at how this truck gets it done.
The first thing you should know is that this truck is lifted 18 inches front and rear from the factory ride height. This would seem to be an overabundance of lift, making for a gangly vehicle, but it's not. Full Throttle went the extra mile to add things such as antisway bars to keep the truck on all four wheels when roosting around obstacles in the dirt. The factory front and rear suspensions are a thing of the past; they were replaced with new axles, housings, and shocks.
The frontend received a Dana 44 axle with a Detroit Locker and Precision Gear 4.88:1 cogs. To make the front wheels operational and the four-wheel-drive system complete, an NP208 transfer case was installed between the framerails using Full Throttle's custom brackets. A dual CV-joint driveline connects the case to the front drive yoke. The housing is located by an FTS four-link system with a Panhard bar. FTS also installed its disc brake conversion kit on the axles, adding a full hydraulic steering system to make turning the huge rolling stock easier. To control the motion of the suspension while underway, FTS installed a set of 2.5-inch-diameter King Shock Technology coilover shocks at the corners of the axle tubes on a pair of bolt-in upper shock hoops.
The rear suspension is just as trick as the front. Again, a custom four-link was installed to locate the GM 14-bolt rearend. The rearend is outfitted much the same as the frontend, with another Detroit Locker and 4.88:1 gears. The link bars pivot on huge 1-inch, Teflon-coated rod ends and were chrome-plated by Walley's Custom Chrome of Fresno, California. The rearend also received a dual CV-joint driveline, which is partly responsible for the beast being able to put the power to the ground no matter how far the rear end of the truck droops out. In keeping with the high-end suspension theme, another set of 14-inch-long King coilovers found a home at the rear of the truck.
Frank is a guy who loves to drive his trucks, no matter how big they are. To keep things fun, Frank installed a Whipple supercharger onto the 4.8L Vortec V-8, which now pumps out a dyno-verified 408 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque. The powerplant is also outfitted with a JBA 2.5-inch, stainless-steel exhaust system, complete with ceramic-coated tubular headers. The huffer-equipped engine has no trouble spinning the 40s both on and off the road, thanks to the performance upgrades.
Frank's truck is a symbol of his go-for-it attitude toward building and driving trucks. The same kind of passion has driven his successful suspension manufacturing company, and it seems as though every time we see this guy, he has another new product or vehicle in the works. We can't wait to show you the next truck, as it's even bigger and more outrageous than this one.
Owner/hometown : Frank Bertao/Bakersfield, California
Year/make/model : '03 Chevrolet Silverado standard cab
Suspension : Front and rear four-link suspensions. Front: four-wheel-drive straight-axle suspension conversion; Dana 44 front axles; Detroit Locker; 4.88:1 gears; King coilovers. Rear: GM 14-bolt rearend with King coilovers
Wheels and Tires : 16.5x14-inch Weld Mountain Crusher wheels/39.5x18R16.5 Mickey Thompson Baja belted tires
Engine : 4.8L Vortec V-8 with a Whipple supercharger and JBA exhaust
Accessories : Clarion DVD player; ARC Audio speakers; Barefoot Graphix vinyl lettering; Concept Pattern differential covers