Less Whine, All the Time If you're a fanatic about high-performance upgrades for your off-road vehicle, then you've probably considered supercharging your truck's engine. However, many enthusiasts are unwilling to live with a blower's inherent gear whine on a day-to-day basis. For that reason, the folks at Vortech Engineering, (805) 247-0226, have developed a new, advanced centrifugal supercharger, dubbed the V-2 SQ (Super Quiet), which promises to quiet things down while it's stuffing an engine full of air.
The secret of the V-2 SQ blower's quiet function lies in its helical geardriven impeller. The curved teeth on both the beltdriven drive gear and the driven gear, which drives the impeller - the small fan-shaped component that creates a centrifugal blower's boost - are virtually silent in operation. Additionally, Vortech gave the V-2 SQ supercharger an improved, low-friction impeller seal and an O-ring between the two segments of the compressor housing, which further quiets the blower's operation.
Did we mention that Vortech's all-new 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility features an aerospace-quality machining center and a state-of-the-art technical center? Good, because we wouldn't want to leave out that important information.
The new VQ huffer is now standard equipment on the full line of Vortech supercharger systems, but Vortech's previous centrifugal superchargers, the V-1 series, are available as a no-cost option for those who crave the whine from the V-1's straight-cut gears. For those who crave the Internet, go to www.vortechsuperchargers.com
Desert: The New Frontier Nissan has radically redesigned the Frontier for the '01 model-year. Styled at Nissan Design International in La Jolla, California, the new exterior appearance features a simple, tough, machine-aesthetic appearance with a new front grille and a rugged bumper, a tall hoodline, oversized headlights, and large fender flares with visible divot holes and fasteners. Nissan designers also incorporated foglamps into the new bumper, and in the rear, added a new tailgate cover and a standard tailgate lock. Interior changes include a new instrument cluster with reversible gauges, new seat fabric, a new steering wheel, and enlarged control knobs and switches. There is also a new lineup of audio systems available, including an in-dash six-CD changer.
There are changes under the hood as well. In an effort to satisfy consumer demand for more power, Nissan has engineered a supercharged V-6 engine. The optional powerplant, sold in addition to the 143hp 2.4L inline-four and the 170hp 3.3L SOHC V-6, pumps out an estimated 210 horses and 240 lb-ft of torque. The new V-6 will be available in the '01 Desert Runner, the crew cab, and the King Cab models with the SC designation.
More on that tasty Desert Runner: The new hauler is configured as a two-wheel drive, but is built on the Frontier's 4x4 chassis for off-road rigidity, ride height, and ground clearance. The Desert Runner's standard powerplant is the 3.3L V-6 (subliminal message: must get the boosted V-6; must get the...), and the truck is roughly 500 pounds lighter than the 4x4 King Cab V-6, giving the Runner the best power-to-weight ratio of any Frontier pickup. The Desert Runner is equipped with skidplates for the bottom of the engine and the fuel tank, gonzo-looking fender flares, a fullsize spare tire, and four-channel ABS. A limited-slip rear differential can be selected on SC and SE models as an extra cost option.
Trucks to Invade the Track Deemed Too Tough to Tame In the annals of NASCAR history, only a handful of racetracks can be referred to as world-class. Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, is one of them. The Darlington track was the site of the first Southern 500 in 1950 when NASCAR races were conducted with off-the-street stock cars. Today, Darlington is one of NASCAR's oldest venues and is the kick-off point for the new Truxpo Truck Tour Series on April 29-30, 2000.
The hundreds of custom trucks and thousands of spectators expected to attend the Darlington event will enjoy one of the best truck fests east of the Mississippi. Open to all trucks, Jeeps, and 4x4s, the Truxpo event will feature a show-'n'-shine competition, a burnout contest, and plenty of interesting things for the whole family to see and do during the weekend. A manufacturers' midway will showcase the latest off-road products, and an index ramp will let 4x4 owners see just how compliant their trucks' suspension systems are. On the entertainment side, famed monster trucks Bigfoot, Samson, and the Executioner will square off and provide plenty of car-crushing action.
Presented by ISC and sponsored in part by Truckin', OFF-ROAD, Mini Truckin', 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, Classic Trucks, and Today's SUV magazines, the Truxpo Truck Tour will host four truck shows at some of NASCAR's most historic tracks. After the series kicks off at Darlington, it moves to NASCAR's palace of speed, Talladega Superspeedway on June 3-4, 2000, then on to Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, on September 16-17, 2000. The grand finale of the series is at the famed Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, on October 7-8, 2000. Each Truxpo event will offer a taste of NASCAR history and a parade lap around these impressive tracks.
More information and pre-registration for any or all of this year's Truxpo series is available from: Truxpo Truck Tour, Dept. OR, 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114, (904) 255-TRUK (8785), (904) 947-6845 (fax), www.truxpotrucktour.com.
Righteous New Rat
General Motors' torque-happy engine designers haven't gone the way of their competitors when it comes to big-time power. Rather than build a V-10 powerplant la Ford and DaimlerChrysler, The General has updated and vastly improved its current power king, the 7.4L big-block V-8. However, time waits for no one - umm, make that no engine - so the Bow Tie crew has rolled out the 7.4L's replacement. Still pumping air through eight cylinders, the new Vortec 8100 V-8 is larger and more powerful. The engine is based on an all-new design, displaces 8.1L, or 495ci, for traditionalists, and is said to out-power any engine currently in GM's lineup. The new Rat will be available in 1/2- and 1-ton trucks beginning in the '01 model-year and is likely to be backed by a new Allison five-speed automatic transmission. Sounds like a sweet powertrain setup.
Never Before Seen: A Buick in Off-Road Magazine
Buick's entry into the SUV world is the Rendezvous, a vehicle built to embody the best of three worlds - car, minivan, and SUV. The Rendezvous is designed to be a versatile vehicle with a youthful image that does not ignore Buick's heritage. The SUV was designed to have a look of refined ruggedness, and is built with practicality and durability in mind.
The Rendezvous is powered by a 3.4L V-6, which generates 185 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, both of which are passed to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The Buick Rendezvous offers seven-passenger seating with the available third seat, and the SUV can be easily reconfigured to create a cargo space of 108.9 cubic feet. The new SUV can be factory-equipped with Versatrak, an on-demand all-wheel-drive system, and can safely tow as much as 3,500 pounds when the proper equipment package is ordered. The Rendezvous will arrive in late 2001 as an '02 model.
The Chevy truck tradition of innovation takes a dramatic next step with the introduction of the Chevy Avalanche - a vehicle whose unique combination of capability and "spontaneous adaptability" stand to create a brand-new vehicle niche, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) segment.
"Avalanche is a fullsize crossover vehicle with four doors and the roominess and comfort of our fullsize utilities, along with the added bonus of a reconfigurable pickup bed. It can seat as many as six adults comfortably and, as a derivative of Chevy's fullsize truck program, Avalanche offers the powertrain components, the modular frame, and the structural integrity of the Silverado.
With a combination of its ingenious Convert-a-Cab System, clever features, breakthrough styling, and rugged Chevy truck authenticity, the Chevrolet Avalanche stands out from its competitors. This is due to the freedom and the flexibility it provides for handling passengers and cargo, and the speed with which its seemingly limitless configuration can be achieved. For years, passenger cars have offered trunk pass-through convenience. Avalanche's Convert-a-Cab System offers a truck pass-through that's available on a moment's notice
In its standard configuration, Avalanche offers a six-passenger cab and a truck bed that measures 5 feet, 3 inches. But if buyers require more cargo room, Avalanche's convertible Midgate folds into the interior cab to create a 4x8-foot cargo area to carry materials such as plywood or drywall. Furthermore, the load is protected from the elements by the standard three-piece cargo cover.
Protection is a key byproduct of Avalanche's cargo box, portions of which are constructed from a new PRO-TEC composite material. Set to debut on the Silverado pickup next fall, composite cargo box panels are expected throughout the industry within the next few years
In a cue borrowed from the '68 Chevrolet Corvette, the Avalanche's rear glass is removable and may be stowed easily onboard. This creates an open-air driving experience, not unlike driving a convertible - but without as much noise and with reduced exposure to the elements.
Other features making their debut on Avalanche include:* The Convert-a-Cab System, as mentioned above, uses a unique Midgate design to provide spontaneous adaptability, converting quickly and easily to different configurations for passengers and cargo. The system also includes a rigid, three-piece cargo cover to protect cargo from the elements. For added convenience, the cover may be stowed on board the vehicle when not in use.
* The lockable tailgate features moulded-in cupholders for added convenience at weekend tailgaters or worksites.
* Several multi-purpose tie-downs are provided to help secure cargo in the bed.
* Integrated lockable Top-Box storage containers are provided for secure, watertight storage of smaller cargo such as camping or emergency equipment.
* Integrated lighting for the cargo bed and Top-Box storage elements enables easy storage or recovery of cargo in the dark.
* A rubber cargo bed floor mat is provided to help protect the truck bed from marring caused by sliding cargo.
* An integrated bumper step and a cargo bed-mounted assist handle have been provided to allow the customer to enter the cargo bed more easily.
* K&N Engineering, makers of the legendary Filtercharger performance air filter elements, has opened a new manufacturing headquarters in Riverside, California. The new 280,000-square-foot facility consolidates K&N's previous 11 buildings that were located in three separate locations. The state-of-the-art complex houses K&N's manufacturing, warehouse, distribution, executive offices, and R&D departments.
* Ford Motor Company, concerned about the potential safety of car drivers involved in a collision with its large trucks and SUVs, has announced plans to equip 4x4 versions of the Expedition, the Lincoln Navigator, and the F-150 with under-the-bumper energy-absorbing steel tube bumpers. The supplemental bumpers, which will likely be seen on '01 models, are intended to reduce the chance that Ford's fullsize trucks and SUVs will roll over compact cars in a collision. Current FoMoCo behemoth Excursion is already equipped with these bumpers, which are intended to contact and catch a smaller vehicle's front or rear bumper, reinforced side door beams, rear hatch, or tail section, thus preventing the larger vehicle from doing a poor imitation of a monster truck exhibition.
* In assembly plant news, General Motors is in the process of constructing a new manufacturing facility in Lansing, Michigan, with production slated to begin at the end of 2001. The new digs will be the site for luxury vehicle production, which will likely include many of GM's upcoming SUVs. "Lansing Grand River will be a state-of-the-art plant based on the best, most competitive manufacturing processes from around the globe," said Donald E. Hackworth, senior vice president of GM and group executive for the General's North America Car Group.
The Lansing factory will be GM's first all-new assembly plant in the United States since the Saturn plant was built in Spring Hill, Tennessee, in 1986.