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LS-Powered 2004 Chevrolet Colorado Buggy

Posted in Features on September 26, 2015
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Despite excellent proportions for trail duty, reasonable prices, and sturdy drivetrains, the Chevy Colorado has never enjoyed the same aftermarket support as the Toyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger. Derek Cattran has owned plenty of Toyotas in the past, but the lack of aftermarket support for the Colorado did not concern him, because he planned to build everything himself.

Derek started with a 2WD, regular cab Colorado and scrapped everything except the cab, fenders, and bed sides. Even the frame was replaced with a full tubular frame that Derek built himself. Using parts from Wide Open Design, Derek essentially built a buggy under the Colorado cab, with 14-bolt axles, coilover shocks, and a big, rowdy engine. As if that weren't enough, he added a 75-shot of nitrous for even more power.

After spending nine months in the garage building his Colorado, Derek has been putting his truck to use all over the country, from his home state of Ohio to Oklahoma all the way out to California, where we caught up with him at King of the Hammers. To see more of Derek's truck in action and hear the LS engine sing, search for "colorado truggy" on YouTube.

A Camaro SS hood and grille were fitted on the front of the Colorado and fit surprisingly well. Derek Cattran bent all of the tubes himself from 1 3/4x0.120-wall tubing. We appreciate the added interior room of the exo-cage and how it hides behind the front fenders.

Derek built a 14-bolt front axle with new tubes and Dana 60 kingpin knuckles. The centersection was shaved for ground clearance, and an ARB Air Locker and 4.10 gears sit behind the Ballistic Fabrication diff cover. RCV axleshafts transmit power to matching RCV drive-slugs.

The PSC full hydraulic steering allows the front suspension to be triangulated for maximum articulation without concerns of bumpsteer. The links are constructed from 2x0.250-wall DOM tubing and fitted with 1 1/4-inch QA1 rod ends. The links work in conjunction with 2-inch-diameter Fox 14-inch-travel coilovers fitted with a combination of Eibach and Pac coil springs.

Power comes from an LS1 engine enhanced with a Thunder Racing Trak Cam, ported LS6 cylinder heads with Thunder Racing Trak Cam, ported LS6 243 heads, with an LS6 intake manifold, LS6 lifters, and 42-lb/hr injectors. ARP fasteners are used to keep the engine together when Derek squeezes the nitrous bottle, resulting in power north of 600 hp. The engine is cooled by a Howe radiator mounted at the rear of the chassis, with the coolant running through the tubular framerails.

The exterior cage of the Colorado makes the interior quite roomy while still safe. The factory seats were swapped out for Corbeau suspension seats with PRP five-point harnesses, and the gauge cluster and HVAC wiring was tossed for simplicity. Instead, a custom switch panel holds toggle switches and circuit breakers for a host of functions, and a Winters shifter rows the TCI TH400 transmission equipped with a 2,200-stall torque converter and reverse manual valve body.

Derek cut the stock bed to make the bedsides that help retain the look of a pickup, but the frame was scrapped in favor of a full tube chassis. Behind the cab, the tube work holds the American-made Howe radiator and dual 12-inch electric fans, RCI 15-gallon aluminum fuel cell in Artec mounts, and rear suspension. Oh, and how can we forget the nitrous bottle?

The rear axle is a shaved 14-bolt with a truss and diff cover from Ballistic Fabrication. A full spool wrapped with a 4.10 gearset spin the 42-inch Iroks, while disc brakes slow the Colorado down. The truss provides a mounting location for the upper links of the triangulated four-link rear suspension. Fox 2-inch-diameter, 16-inch-travel coilovers fitted with a combination of Pac and Eibach coil springs and a Currie Antirock sway bar with custom arms complete the rear suspension.

Tech Specs
2004 Chevrolet Colorado
Engine: LS1 5.7L V-8
Transmission: TH400 3-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Front Axle: Corporate 14-bolt with Dana 60 knuckles, 4.10 gears, ARB Air Locker, RCV axleshafts
Rear Axle: Corporate 14-bolt with 4.10 gears and full spool
Springs & Such: Triangulated 4-link with Fox coilover shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 14/41-17LT Super Swamper Iroks on 17x9 Raceline Monster beadlock wheels
Steering: Full PSC steering system with pump, orbital valve, and double-ended ram
Other: Warn Zeon 10S winch, full tube chassis, RCI 15-gallon fuel cell, Corbeau Baja SS seats, Howe radiator, Driveshaft Specialties 1410 drivelines. Oh, and did we mention the nitrous?

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