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2000 GMC Z71 Rollcage and Bed Weld - The Ultimate Z71

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on September 1, 2008
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Photographers: Kevin McNulty

Pull out your ear plugs, set down that grinder, and come take a peak at what we've been working on. Last month we introduced you to our well-used '00 GMC Z71 1/2-ton and began its transformation into the Ultimate sleeper rig-one that may look like a mall crawler, but performs like a world class off-roader. And it can't be the Ultimate Z71 without the Ultimate Adventure! You know the weeklong wheeling trip where we grab a bunch of wheeling enthusiasts like you and drive more than 1,000 miles on extreme trails and country roads, through multiple states, making it one of the most grueling and epic four-wheeling journeys that you will ever see.

With the expert build crew at Off Road Evolution, we broke out the Hobart welder and went to town getting the truck caged and the bed bobbed. We also shaped up a few other heavy metal items to convert this mild-mannered pickup into a trail-dominating machine. Since we are trying to keep the overall look of the truck close to stock, but still want a trail-friendly wheelbase, we decided to chop 12 inches from the front part of the bed rather than the rear (take a good look at the lead photo again). This will shorten our wheelbase to an estimated 135 inches, helping to keep the 1/2-ton's belly from getting caught up on too many obstacles. Well, time's a wasting, and if we want to get this rig done in time for a quick shakedown run before the official trip, we've got to get back to work! And for those of you that can't get enough of the Ultimate Z71, be sure to cruise over to our Web site at for exclusive build photos and blogs.

Though a 14-bolt with 4.56 gears and a Detroit Locker is a great find, one thing you need to be aware of is the carrier's thickness. Traditionally you want to match up the carrier to the proper ring gear, which is usually some variant of 4.10 and down and 4.56 and up, but there's always an exception to the rule and the 14-bolt is one of those outlaw axles. Due to the thick 4.56 carrier, when you swap gears to a numerically higher set such as our 5.13s, the ring gear makes contact with the pinion support. The solution? Simply find a 4.10 carrier and you're as good as gold.

We break out the laptop and go to the laser cutter for a little cutting-edge bracketry. We also begin laying out our suspension. The best part? All the brackets we make come with part numbers, so if you are thinking about making your own Ultimate Z71, you can!

PhotosView Slideshow


Superior Axle & Gear
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Cleveland, OH 44114
Off Road Evolution
Fullerton, CA 92833

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