Have you ever seen a 4x4 that made you so envious you began blubbering like a giddy schoolboy? We see 'em all the time, though we try not to add to our giddy schoolboy reputations by blubbering. Some trucks trip our triggers because they're fine examples of classic iron, some because of their sheet-metal-sacrificing extreme go-anywhere capability, while others, like Jim Light's '02 Chevy Tahoe, simply represent a modestly built, visually stunning truck.
Light hails from Harrisonville, Missouri, and he's no stranger to trucks. As a matter of fact, he manages Chux Trux in Independence, Missouri, so it was only natural that a built 4x4 would be on his agenda. He took delivery of the truck brand-new, drove it for one week, and then immediately began the buildup process.
Under the hood, the 285hp Vortec 5300 didn't have a speck of dirt on it when Light installed a slew of power-inducing bolt-on products, including a Street Performance throttle-body spacer, a K&N Fuel Injection Performance Kit, a Granatelli mass airflow sensor, a Hypertech Power Programmer, a 160-degree thermostat and a Flowmaster after-cat exhaust. He says that these simple bolt-on mods combine to generate a healthy horsepower increase.
No changes were made to the 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission or the NVG246 transfer case, but the suspension was lifted 9 inches to fit 35x14.50-16.5 Super Swamper SSRs on 16.5x12 Weld Scorpio wheels. This 9 inches of total lift was created by installing a Superlift 6-inch kit, then tweaking the front and rear to generate another 3 inches. What kind of tweaking? Up front, Ford torsion-bar keys were substituted for the stock GM keys to generate another 3 inches of lift, while in the rear, the Superlift coils were stretched by a local spring shop to increase the lift. Helping to control suspension movement up front is a dual-shock kit with Superide shocks, with single Superide shocks in the rear. To compensate for the larger-diameter tires, Motive Gear 4.10 gears replaced the stock 3.73 gears. Finally, a Motive Gear limited-slip unit was bolted into the rear axle to improve traction and round out the driveline mods.
When it came time to modify the exterior, Light used a less-is-more approach. The only major visual mods include a 3-inch body lift, Carriage Works billet grille and Bow Tie, color keying of the front air dam and running boards, and the addition of a Sir Michael's metal rear roll pan. This roll pan was the first one made by the company for the new-generation Tahoe, although it is now available over-the-counter. Its installation required Light to remove 3 inches from the rear framerails. The result is a clean yet unique look to the tail of the Tahoe.
The interior was a different story, as Light opted for some not-so-subtle interior mods in the form of an '02 Cadillac Escalade gauge cluster and an eardrum-shattering 4,500-watt audio system. Audiophiles will appreciate the long list of gear that was installed over the course of two weeks by Independence Audio in Independence. That list includes an Alpine head unit and DVD player, a Kicker equalizer, four Kicker amplifiers, an array of Kicker speakers, miles of Lightning cable, lots of Dynamat sound-deadening material, a Dakota digital volt meter and dual Optima Yellow Top Batteries.
Lest you think that Light is finished modifying his Tahoe, he points out that the next major item on his agenda is the addition of a Procharger Supercharger, which will add some serious punch to the vehicle's performance.
|Owner||Jim Light, Harrisonville, Missouri|
|Vehicle model||’02 Chevrolet Tahoe|
|Aspiration||Electronic fuel injection, Street |
Performance throttle-body spacer, K&N fuel
injection performance kit, Granatelli mass
airflow sensor, Flowmaster exhaust
|Front||Superlift 6-inch IFS lift modified to |
produce 9 inches of lift
|Rear||Superlift 6-inch coil springs stretched |
to produce 9 inches of lift
|Rear||Corporate 10-bolt, Motive Gear |
|Ring-and-pinion||Motive Gear 4.10:1|
|Wheels||16.5x12 Weld Scorpio w/lug cover kit|