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1994 Chevy S10 takes on the toughest trails in Colorado and Utah

Posted in Features on February 16, 2017
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Joe Allen from Littleton, Colorado, is not a “hold my beer and watch this” kind of guy. He has some mad skills behind the wheel and a rig that is more than capable on any trail he points it up. His preference is to run trails rated 8 or higher, as anything under that might be considered mall crawling for his 1994 Chevy S10.

Joe was originally a Jeep guy. At one time he had a seriously built XJ, but an unfortunate trip up a gnarly 9-rated trail took its toll, and he decided it was time to build something that didn’t know the meaning of the word no.

“I hate to break on the trail,” Joe says, “so I wanted something that was not only extremely capable, but something overbuilt so it would flat-out work wherever I wanted to go.” Economics were a slight consideration, so Joe looked for a started project. He found this S-10, but he still did a full ground-up rebuild to ensure flawless performance. Very little of the original 1994 Chevy S10 is left; the interior and grille are pretty much the only things that tell you what it started life as.

Powering this behemoth up the trail is a 1997 Chevrolet Vortech 350 V-8. The engine is stock except for a set of custom headers and a 3 inch MagnaFlow exhaust system.

Powering this behemoth up the trail is a 1997 Chevrolet Vortech 350 V-8. The engine is stock with the exception of a set of custom headers and a 3-inch MagnaFlow exhaust system. Backing that up is a TH350 automatic transmission and a B&M shifter with a Z-Gate custom control. The tranny has been modified with lower planetary gears, a reverse pattern, and a manual-shift valve body. The transfer case is a work of internal art; an NP205 with a Klune-V Goliath crawl box and a low-range ratio of 5.4:1 give it the ultimate definition of crawl. Custom-made driveshafts were needed to get the power to the enormous Rockwell axles.

The hardest part for Joe is finding trails that truly challenge this vehicle. On a straightforward run up ledges and waterfalls, it excels. The only issue Joe finds is that in those tight spots where you need maneuverability and turning radius, his truggy is a bit cumbersome.

Tech Specs

1994 Chevy S10
Engine: Chevrolet Vortech 350 V-8
Transmission: TH350 automatic
Transfer Case: NP205 with a Klune-V Goliath crawl box
Front Axle: 2 1/2-ton Rockwell, 6.72:1, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: 2 1/2-ton Rockwell, 6.72:1, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: Custom 4-link, FOA 18-inch coilovers (front); custom wishbone swivel link with Fox air shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 21/49-20LT Interco Irok Super Swampers mounted on custom 20x13 DIY true double beadlocks
Steering: PSC double ram, full hydraulic

Squeezing the V-8 into such a small space wasn’t easy. The hood had to be cut through the center to clear the engine. The front fenders needed to be cut out for tire clearance, with custom tubing mounted inside the fender area for structural support. The doors have been cut and modified to improve visibility and comfort. The exterior rollcage is 0.120- and 0.250-wall DOM to protect the occupants in case of rollover (whether accidental or on purpose Joe won’t say). Other “custom bodywork” has been done by Utah’s Upper Helldorado Trail and Colorado’s Penrose Trail.
The frame was donated by a mid-1980s Chevy K5 Blazer. The 2 1/2-ton Rockwell front axle, with factory 6.72 gears and a Detroit Locker, gives you the hint that most trails are just a walk in the park for this 133-inch wheelbase beast. The four-link front suspension includes FOA 18-inch coilovers. A PSC full-hydraulic, double-ended steering ram wards off arm fatigue while Joe is playing on the rocks and ledges. Both front and rear axles have been rebuilt and modified with Ouverson chromoly shafts, joints, and drive flanges as well as upgraded seals by Custom Off-road.
Mounted on top of the rear axle is a rear suspension “suck-down” winch for scaling difficult climbs. Rear suspension is a custom wishbone swivel link with Fox air shocks. Pinion brakes on the axle are favored over a traditional disc brake setup. The radiator is rear-mounted for additional airflow and because there wasn’t any room left under the hood. A CO2 tank is mounted just behind the cab for airing up tires after a long day on the trail.
The original S10 grille was left in place with 6-inch KC Daylighters replacing the original headlights. Hidden below the grille is a 12,000-pound MileMarker winch in a fabbed-up cradle. The 21/49-20LT Interco Irok Super Swampers mounted on custom 20x13 DIY true double beadlocks leave one heck of a footprint. Most obstacles are mere bumps in the trail.
The stock S10 interior is comfortable enough for an all-day adventure, but alas, no air conditioning since Allen mainly runs the Colorado trails. The only glass remaining in the cab is the windshield and side pop-out vent windows. A B&M shifter with Z-Gate custom gate work and a Klune-V Goliath crawl box were installed by ABD Transmissions in Englewood, Colorado.
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