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This 1997 Chevrolet S-10 is a Perfect Ten

Posted in Features on July 30, 2015
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Toyotas are common on the trail and Ford Rangers seem to rule the desert but what about the Chevy S-10? Despite excellent drivetrain components and trail-friendly proportions, these downsized Bowties have been virtually ignored by the aftermarket. That didn't stop Burton Halter from turning his 1997 Chevrolet S-10 into a capable trail machine, though.

Burton got this truck with a blown engine back when he was 15, and his father worked with him to get it back out on the road without a car payment every month. Burton used the S-10 to haul his dirt bikes to races all over Arizona (and beyond) for years, but after he started hanging out with the guys from Letzroll Offroad it wasn't long before a solid axle found its way under the front of the truck. Their influence continues as Burton is currently in the process of ripping out the leaf springs and 1/2-ton axles in favor of coilovers and one tons under his trusty S-10.

At A Glance
Vehicle: 1997 Chevy S10 ZR2
Owner: Burton Halter
Stomping grounds: Mesa, Arizona
Built time: It hasn't ended yet!
Engine: 5.3L V-8
Transmission: TH700R4 four-speed automatic
Transfer case(s): NP241
Low range ratio: 2.72:1
Crawl ratio: 40.62:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 44 w/ 4.88 Yukon gears, welded differential, Yukon chromoly axleshafts and Superjoints, Solid spindles and aluminum hubs Rear axle/differential: Ford 9-inch w/ 4.88 Yukon gears, Lock-Right locker, Yukon 1541 axle shafts, and disc brakes
Front: Wagoneer leaf springs and Pro Comp 3000 shocks
Rear: 63-inch Chevy leaf springs and Pro Comp 3000 shocks
Steering: Dodge steering box built by Benchworks Steering, Sky Manufacturing steering arms, 1.5-inch, 0.250-wall DOM tie rod and drag link w/ 0.75-inch Ruff Stuff rod ends
Tires: 37x12.50R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Wheels: 17x8 Pro Comp steel
Armor: Custom tubular bumpers and rock sliders
Cool stuff: Smittybilt XRC8 winch, full rollcage, Corbeau seats, Crow harnesses, Autometer gauges, RCI fuel cell, Rigid LED lights

The factory 4.3L V-6 is a good engine but Burton likes horsepower, so he shoehorned in an all-aluminum 5.3L engine from a 2007 Silverado. He had to cut a lot of the core support to fit the big Ron Davis radiator and dual fans, but he never has to worry about the engine overheating. Burton retained the factory wiring harness for the engine and PKR Automotive in Mesa handled the programming to account for modifications like the Airaid intake plumbing and headers.

The factory interior was removed and the stock seats were replaced with Corbeau suspension seats and Crow harnesses. The dash is gone too, and in its place sits a crossbar for the 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM rollcage skinned with aluminum sheetmetal holding Autometer gauges.

The bed of the truck holds a 19-gallon RCI fuel cell and a Derale cooler for the TH700R4 automatic transmission, along with a fullsize spare. Note that the fuel cell is mounted in a cradle that allows it to move freely as the body flexes. Hard mounting fuel cells can often lead to cracks and leaks.

The front suspension uses simple and effective leaf springs from a Jeep Wagoneer. They are mounted to a custom spring hanger that Burton built and work in conjunction with the 12-inch-travel Pro Comp 3000 shocks. A Dodge steering box built by Benchworks Steering was added at the same time as the solid axle.

The front axle is a high-pinion Dana 44 out of a Ford. That's right, the Blue Oval axle has the correct driver-side-drop to line up with the NP241 transfer case. The axle is fit with 4.88 Yukon gears, a welded differential, Yukon chromoly axleshafts and Superjoints, and Solid billet spindles and aluminum hubs.

The rear suspension uses 63-inch leaf springs from a fullsize Chevy and shackles that use a rod end at the frame end to reduce binding during suspension articulation. Pro Comp 3000 12-inch travel shocks are mounted to a custom crossmember to perform damping duties.

Out back Burton runs another Ford axle, but it is hard to fault him for using the venerable 9-inch. His has been fortified with 4.88 Yukon gears, a Lock-Right locker, Yukon 1541 axleshafts, and disc brakes.

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