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2005 Chevy Colorado: Big Blue Bow Tie

Posted in Features on September 8, 2018
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“I got bored of wheeling my Blazer and wanted another project,” Erik Storedahl told us, “and that’s when the headache began.” But let’s back up a bit. We heard his blue Chevy Colorado bellowing from down the rocky canyon before we could even see it, and we had to know more. Erik told us a story rife with late nights, junkyard grief, and DIY fabrication.

The ’05 Chevy Colorado had been a dream for a while before Erik snatched one at the discounted price of $5,000. The plan was simple—tear the truck down to the frame and body, drop in an ’05 Cadillac motor, bolt up a 4L80 transmission, and after a custom exhaust and some transplanted axles, the truck would be ready to roll. That plan took three months, and the best part came when he turned the key. Erik built such a quiet exhaust that he could hear the knock in his junkyard-sourced engine. Only a minor setback. A quick trip back to the junkyard yielded an LQ4 from an ’05 Denali, which went seamlessly into the place of its predecessor. A quick celebratory test in the driveway led not only to a rumbling V-8, but also to the last dying breath of the junkyard 4L80 tranny. This time Erik let the project sit for a spell while he strategized. It was time for a precision-built 4L80 from Monster Transmission, and while he was at it he chose to rebuild the LQ4 V-8.

With a bulletproof tranny and a freshly rebuilt and tuned engine, the truck was ready for its 44-inch Pit Bull Rockers—and a snowy Washington trail test. This was the shakedown run marking T minus seven days until Erik’s 2018 trip to King of the Hammers. Naturally, the LQ4 detonated on the snow run, leaving him five days to scramble and find a new engine. When we met Erik in the California desert, he was halfway through his inaugural trail test, and as he told us, everything (finally) ran great.

Though the dovetailed bed is not as visible from the front, Erik’s ’05 Chevy Colorado still looks menacing with 44-inch Pit Bull Rockers and the custom Chevy Bow Tie winch fairlead.
Erik’s Dana 60 kingpin is much better suited for the trails than the original independent front suspension. The axle came from an old modified Toyota Erik scored on Craigslist and carries 5.38:1 gears and an Eaton ELocker. Holding the 1-ton axle beneath the truck is a four-link suspension made from 1.25-inch-diameter, 0.250-wall tubing and rod ends from RuffStuff Specialties. ORI struts give the axle 16 inches of travel, while the PSC Motorsports double-ended ram setup helps aim the 44-inch tires.
The rear Chevy 14-bolt also came from the old built Toyota, is geared down to 5.38:1, and maintains traction with an Eaton Detroit Locker. The upper arms of Erik’s four-link are 1.25-inch-diameter, 0.250-wall tubing, while the lower Ultimate Rock Crawling Trailing Arms are from RuffStuff Specialties. King coilovers give the rear 16 inches of travel while the 4-inch King bumpstops prevent harsh bottom-outs. A Trail-Gear limiting strap keeps the axle movement in check, and Erik kept the tailpipes tucked beneath the truck to keep them clear of obstacles. Both axles have custom trusses made by Erik and his colleagues.
The powertrain has been a revolving door of trial and error. Following the explosive snow run, Erik found a 6.0L LQ9 built exclusively by GM in Romulus, Michigan, to turn the gas into go. Rebuilt with a full-manual reverse valvebody, the 4L80 from Monster Transmission keeps Erik in control of the gear changes.
Instead of the original pushbutton-shifting transfer case, Erik now controls his four-wheel drive through an Atlas 2 from Advance Adapters. The 3.8:1 low-range reduction gives him a final crawl ratio of 50.7:1.
To help keep the 44x19.5-17LT Pit Bull Rockers from eating his bedsides, Erik put a couple weekends’ worth of time into the dovetailed bed. The tailgate is still completely functional, and both ends of the truck are adorned with a 1/4-inch steel custom bumper.
The interior was kept fairly close to stock, with enough room for a few friends to come along on the trails. Routed through the floor are the twin sticks for the Atlas T-case and the transmission shifter.

At a Glance

Vehicle: ’05 Chevy Colorado
Owner: Erik Storedahl
Stomping grounds: Kalama, Washington
Build time: One year

Engine: 6.0L LQ9
Transmission: Monster 4L80 w/full-manual reverse valvebody
Transfer case(s): Atlas 2
Low range ratio(s): 3.8:1
Crawl ratio(s): 50.7:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60 kingpin, 5.38:1 gears/Eaton ELocker
Rear axle/differential: Chevy 14-bolt, 5.38:1 gears/Eaton Detroit Locker

Front: Double-triangulated four-link, ORI 16-in struts
Rear: Triangulated four-link, RuffStuff Specialties Ultimate Rock Crawler Trailing Arms, 16-in King coilovers, 4-in King bumpstops

Tires: 44x19.5-17LT Pit Bull Rocker
Wheels: 17x9 Trail-Gear aluminum beadlock

Steering: PSC Motorsports double-ended hydraulic ram
Armor: Custom-fabricated 1/4-in steel bumpers
Cool stuff: Front Smittybilt 12,000-lb winch, custom Chevy Bow Tie trusses and winch fairlead, 24-gal aluminum fuel cell, dovetailed bed w/functional tailgate

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