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1990 Chevy Silverado - Totally Tubular 'Tie

Posted in Features on February 1, 2002
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Contributors: Jon Thompson

So here's Mark Delezenne, from Yalaha, Florida, mozying down the road in his custom Chevy Silverado 4x4 when the next thing he knows, he's in the middle of a big-time wreck, the sort of thing none of us even want to see, much less be a part of. He's hanging on for dear life while the big Bow-Tie rolls once, then rolls again. Yee-haw!

When the noise and movement finally stop Mark examines himself. He's mostly OK. He crawls out from the smoking ruin that he's just been driving to find out that it's mostly not OK. In fact, it's totaled. Everything's been turned into a pile of badly scuffed junk. Everything, that is, except the frame and the engine.

But Mark is not a guy who is easily discouraged. He recalls, "I considered my options, talked with my wife and father, and decided to bring the truck back from the dead." Good thing, too, because Mark's '90 Silverado is better than ever, using the old frame and engine, but with everything else new.

That frame, in fact, is one reason Mark decided on the rebuild. At the time of his wreck it had been under the truck for just 18 months. It's a race-car-style tubular chrome-moly frame custom-built for him by a fabricator named Terry Jones, who works in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Why, you ask? "Because," Mark smiles, "I just wanted to be different."

This tubular frame is plenty different, for sure, in part because Mark chose to powdercoat it a most eye-popping shade of, well, purple. But if all this is starting to sound just slightly nutty, just wait. This ground-up approach to truck building allowed Mark to optimize all his suspensions and axles. Since he was starting with a clean sheet of paper with this frame, he incorporated the pickup points for front-and-rear four-link systems. Those tubular custom links are completely adjustable, allowing Mark to dial his suspension for any set of conditions. At the other end of those links are a pair of heavy-duty axles-a Corporate 12-bolt up front, and a Corporate 14-bolt in the rear. Both contain 4.56 gearsets and Detroit Lockers.

Taking a page from the Big Book of Monster Trucks, Mark uses a set of Nightstalker Stage II nitrogen-charged shocks with 14 inches of travel to handle all suspension chores. Then he added a custom drop pitman arm and crossover steering system. Downstream of all this, out where the meats meet the mud, Mark has chosen a set of 44x16.5 Boggers mounted on 16.5x14 Weld Typhoon polished aluminum wheels.

It takes horsepower to turn tires like that, and Mark has that requirement covered nicely. He started with a 454ci Chevy big-block that now displaces 468ci, thanks to an overbore of 0.60-inch. The oil pump is from Melling, the crankshaft and rods are the stock items, and so are the heads, but pistons are JR slugs that bring the compression ratio to 9.5:1. A Comp Cam bounces the valves, and a Holley 650 carb feeds fuel into the engine through an Edelbrock Performer manifold. The ignition system has been left stock. Exhaust makes its exit through a set of Hooker headers and into a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust system that has, with the headers, been treated to Jet Coat. The result of all this, Mark says, is 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque.

That power flows downstream into a stock TH400 trans that's been treated to a B&M shift kit, and from there to an NP205 transfer case that's nestled into the truck's tubular frame.

This project sprang from a total write-off, remember, so in order to do the rebuild correctly, Mark bought a second truck that he used as a parts vehicle. From this he took the body and bed. To the body he added a front clip from a '95 GMC and a steel cowl-induction hood. His friend Davis Coleman at a shop called Sign Wizard shot the sheetmetal with a coat of pewter, and then applied the tasteful purple and yellow graphics.

PhotosView Slideshow

Mark started from scratch with the interior, using a set of seats from an '87 Blazer, which he recovered in purple and silver tweed. He added gray carpet, a white leather steering wheel from Grant, a set of Auto Meter Phantom II gauges, and to top all this off, a JVC audio head unit, two MTX amplifiers, two 10-inch woofers, two 6.5-inch midrange speakers, and two tweeters.

With this level of detail work done, you'd be tempted to think that Mark's rebuilt Chevy would be a trailer queen, a rig that never leaves the sterile confines of the grassy infields of the show world, but nothing could be further from the truth. The pictures you see here should prove that.

Interestingly, though his tubular Bow Tie is a pretty elaborate ride, Mark remains unsatisfied with what he has. He's ordered an '02 Silverado 2500, for which he's already got extensive plans. Let's just hope those plans don't include having to build it twice.


Owner Mark Delezenne, Yalaha, Florida
Vehicle model 1990 Chevrolet Silverado
Estimated value $35,000

Type 468ci {{{OHV}}} Chevy
Aspiration Holley 650 carb, Edelbrock
Performer manifold, Hooker headers,
3-inch-diameter Flowmaster
exhaust system
Output, hp/torque 450/450 lb-ft
Transmission TH400
Transfer case NP205
Front/Rear Corporate 12-bolt/Corporate
14-bolt, Detroit Lockers, 4.56 gears
Front/Rear Custom 5-link front and rear, Nightstalker Stage II nitrogen
suspension units, custom crossover
steering and drop pitman arm
Wheels 16.5x14 Weld Typhoon
polished aluminum
Tires 44x16.5 Interco Boggers

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