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2001 Chevy S-10 Pickup ZR2 Lift Kit - Upping The Ante

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on March 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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If you own an Chevy S-10 Blazer or pickup with the ZR2 package or a GMC Highrider, you have a pretty cool, off-road-capable rig right out of the box. ZR2 package content varies by year, but has historically featured some stout mods. Take the '04 Blazer ZR2, for instance. Its list of ZR2-specific goodies includes a special rear axle with 8.5-inch ring gear, limited-slip differential, larger wheel bearings, longer and larger axleshafts; strengthened front differential gears and drive axles; a rear-axle track bar; revised multileaf rear springs; 46mm Bilstein shocks; 31x10.50-15 on-/off-road tires; and skidplate package.

When you add a suspension lift to the equation, the full-framed ZR2's off-highway capabilities improve by leaps and bounds. There aren't many kits available in the aftermarket for the ZR2, but BDS Suspension manufactures a 5-inch kit that allows fitment of 32x12.50 tires. We hung out with the guys at Attitude Performance in Arlington Heights, Illinois, while they installed the aforementioned kit on a customer's '01 S-10 ZR2 pickup. BDS recommends that a professional technician install this kit due to its labor-intensive nature as well as the requirement that some stock frame components be removed from the vehicle. Total install time for this kit, not including front end alignment, is in the 10- to 12-hour range.

The information that follows will give you an overview of some of the major components of this 5-inch-lift kit. The photos show some of the new parts in place on the vehicle after the stock components have been removed per the instructions.

These are the components included with the BDS 5-inch-lift kit, including the optional front skidplate.

So was the kit worth it? We'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Before we installed the BDS Suspension 5-inch kit, the stock ZR2 traveled 48 inches up a 20-degree RTI ramp, earning a score of 391. After the BDS Suspension install, the ZR2 crawled 59 inches up the ramp, which improved its score to 480. Ground clearance, which as we all know is one of the key ingredients of a good off-road vehicle, also improved as expected. In stock form, 18.5 inches separated the front lower valance from the ground. After the BDS Suspension install, that number jumped to 24.5 inches. In the rear, we gained 6.5 inches over stock, culminating with a measurement of 28.5 inches. These numbers reflect the fact that the owner of this specific ZR2 chose to install 33x12.50 tires (on American Racing 15x8 chrome Slider wheels), which are an inch larger in diameter than what BDS Suspension recommends. To counter the resulting clearance issues, the owner is going to install a body lift.

On the road, the truck handled and tracked amazingly well. We expected a stiffer ride, which we experienced (probably due to the larger shocks and beefier tires), but it was nowhere near uncomfortable. All in all, we think the owner of this ZR2 will be quite pleased with this ZR2's new on- and off-road performance.

These are the front and rear upper A-arm drop brackets. As their name implies, they drop the upper A-arms, thus creating lift. They are made from 1/4-inch steel. Look closely and you can see where items like the OE extended-stop support wing and part of the upper control arm pocket were removed using a plasma cutter. All total, there are approximately six OE items that need to be removed or modified to make room for the new suspension components. These are the front and rear upper A-arm drop brackets. As their name implies, they drop the upper A-arms, thus creating lift. They are made from 1/4-inch steel. Look closely and you can see where items like the OE extended-stop support wing and part of the upper control arm pocket were removed using a plasma cutter. All total, there are approximately six OE items that need to be removed or modified to make room for the new suspension components.
Here you can see the new front crossmember and the new main rear crossmember installed on the vehicle. The new main rear crossmember attaches where the OE lower rear control arms used to be. The front crossmember attaches where the OE lower front control arms used to mount. Here you can see the new front crossmember and the new main rear crossmember installed on the vehicle. The new main rear crossmember attaches where the OE lower rear control arms used to be. The front crossmember attaches where the OE lower front control arms used to mount.
The front differential assembly mounts to the vehicle at three points. In the center of this image you can see the new driver-side differential mount hanging down. In the bottom right, you can see the passenger-side differential mount that bolts to the axletube. Not seen is the rear crossmember mount. The front differential assembly mounts to the vehicle at three points. In the center of this image you can see the new driver-side differential mount hanging down. In the bottom right, you can see the passenger-side differential mount that bolts to the axletube. Not seen is the rear crossmember mount.
The kit reuses the OE lower A-arms, and they mount to the new front and rear crossmembers. Here you can see how the front of the driver-side A-arm attaches to the new front crossmember. The kit reuses the OE lower A-arms, and they mount to the new front and rear crossmembers. Here you can see how the front of the driver-side A-arm attaches to the new front crossmember.
A new heavy-duty differential skidplate is included with the kit, and it bolts to the new front and rear crossmembers. A new heavy-duty differential skidplate is included with the kit, and it bolts to the new front and rear crossmembers.
The torsion-bar crossmember is lowered using extension links. A torsion-bar guard (shown) is installed using the OE skidplate bolts. The torsion-bar crossmember is lowered using extension links. A torsion-bar guard (shown) is installed using the OE skidplate bolts.
New upper A-arms are included with the kit. They are made from 1/4-inch steel and include greaseable bushings. The ball joints need to be installed in the arms before the arms are installed using the OE cam bolts. Since the small S-10 ball joints are prone to failure, it's always a good idea to install brand-new ball joints. New upper A-arms are included with the kit. They are made from 1/4-inch steel and include greaseable bushings. The ball joints need to be installed in the arms before the arms are installed using the OE cam bolts. Since the small S-10 ball joints are prone to failure, it's always a good idea to install brand-new ball joints.
The rear suspension is lifted via a spring-over-axle (SOA) conversion. The major components of the SOA conversion include new spring-perch brackets that double as shock mounts, spring plates, and U-bolts, a track-bar drop bracket, a brake-line drop bracket, and new shocks. The rear suspension is lifted via a spring-over-axle (SOA) conversion. The major components of the SOA conversion include new spring-perch brackets that double as shock mounts, spring plates, and U-bolts, a track-bar drop bracket, a brake-line drop bracket, and new shocks.
Here you can see the front end after completion. Front and center is the optional BDS skidplate. The new swaybar drop-down brackets are visible, as are the new BDS shocks. Not visible are the new adjusting sleeve assemblies and relay rods for the steering system. Here you can see the front end after completion. Front and center is the optional BDS skidplate. The new swaybar drop-down brackets are visible, as are the new BDS shocks. Not visible are the new adjusting sleeve assemblies and relay rods for the steering system.
Before Before
After After

Sources

Attitude Performance
Arlington Heights, IL
847-593-0505
www.attitudeperformance.com
BDS Suspension
517.279.2135
www.bds-suspension.com

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