It’s always good to have an affinity for your work, and dirt-lover Michael Ball lives off-roading during just about every waking moment. You see, he’s a senior sales associate with 4 Wheel Parts San Marcos by day and a truck-jumping fiend come the weekend.
At 33, Ball figured that he wanted a little more bulk around him than the dirt bikes he had been riding, so he bought a ’02 2WD Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and set about turning into something would give him the same rush as the bikes did. His goal was to build a dream luxury prerunner but on the average Joe’s budget; or what he laughingly now calls a “budget luxury prerunner.”
Ball, along with GMR’s Jason Heard, took what was there and built it to the next stage. The cage was put in and the Blitzkrieg suspension mocked up. It was then moved to Blitzkreig so Matt Helton could build a front engine cage and coilover shock mounts and supply the spindles. From there the rolling chassis went back to Ball’s garage where he completed the build to that point. The original single shock has turned into dual Fox shocks (10-inch Fox 2.5 coilovers, 10-inch 2.5 triple bypass) and a pair of 2.0 King bumpstops.
Initially the rearend was helped by Deaver springs, but it was finally C-notched, and, with the help of good friend Brett Sloppy of MMS Racing, a custom built 4-link was added. All the suspension pivot points, links, and the rest were built in the garage. The rear shocks feature Pro Comp 2.0 bumps, Fox 2.5 coilovers (16-inch) and 2.5 triple bypass (18-inch) units. The coil springs are actually King 450/550-pound units.
While the front brakes are stock, the rear features Schriner rotors with Wilwood Superlite calipers. On all four corners, however, one will find 17x8.5 Pro Comp La Paz wheels that are equipped with 37x12.50-17 Pro Comp Xtreme AT tires.
We’ve always liked this era of Chevy truck, and the steel cab, hood, and grille have been only aided in the looks department with the addition of the Trailer products fiberglass front fenders and rear bedsides. They were painted to match the cab. By that we mean the stock, eye-watering, glacier white paint that came from the factory, though Ball says he’d be happy to let someone wrap it if they wanted.
There are five of Hella’s X5 HID’s installed into an articulating mount that rotates up from the bed cage when needed, and folds back down and out of harm’s way when not. A small Rigid LED has been placed on top of the very small front pushbar. Between the six lights (plus headlights) there’s more than enough light to get Ball back if the sun goes down while out on the trail. Speaking of the bed cage, it also holds the Fuel Safe fuel cell, two spare tires, a toolbox, and a pair of handy fire extinguishers.
At least he’ll be comfortable and well protected as Corbeau XP seats have replaced the stock units, and a set of 5-point Crow harnesses replace the stock three-pointer over the shoulder units. Other tricks inside this truck include an Art Carr Shifter, a PCI intercom with Yaesu Race radio, and a Lowrance GPS system.
To get an idea of how healthy this Chevy sounds, check out the accompanying video, but know that it was all thanks to Ball and his tinkering of the Chevrolet LQ9 engine. Displacing 6.0 liters, the 2005 vintage engine has been upgraded with the best of old and new as a custom Schneider Racing Cams bumpstick shares duty with a Black Bear tuner.
Though the induction system uses stock fuel injectors and intake manifold, an AEM cold air intake system keeps the engine filled with cool air. The exhaust system begins with a set of long-tube headers before collecting into an X-pipe then to the 3-inch tubes, which direct the flow to dual MagnaFlow mufflers. Ball figures that the engine produces 400 hp, and, as the guy who did the engine work, he should know.
The Chevrolet transmission is the stock 4L80E that has been upgraded with a manual valvebody, 3,200-stall converter, and PWR X3 trans cooler with a remote K&N filter.
Even with a lot of power, the gearing needs to be right, so Ball used G2 5:43 gears and Detroit locker when he built the GMR 9-inch rearend. Also in place are Schriner full floating hubs and Speedway Engineering axles. Putting the engine torque to good use is not a problem.
Ball says that he built this Silverado to be able to get out with friends and have good times. He also says that his “Marshmallow” still needs a few things for sure, but that “it all comes with the budget.” Some future fun will include a 40-spline rearend, complete back half and bigger shocks. He also concedes that it definitely needs some paint.