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2004 Chevy Silverado - Born To Fly

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2005
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Photographers: Robin Stover

A common misconception is that a truck has to be ugly to be off-road-functional. Well, here at Four Wheeler we disagree with that theory, and we offer up James Bertao's high-flying '04 Chevy Silverado as proof that a truck can be functional without looking like a rolling wreck.

This Silverado's story begins when Bertao, an employee of Full Throttle Suspension, took delivery of the new truck on a bright, sunny California morning. By the time the salesman returned eight hours later to deliver an extra set of keys, Bertao had the truck almost completely disassembled in preparation for a buildup that would transform the Silverado from two-wheel-drive stocker to a mean 'n' nasty four-wheel-drive solid-axle monster. All total, about eight weeks elapsed from the start of the project to the finish.

The result of his labor is the robust Silverado you see here. It's fast, functional, and doesn't look too bad either.

The rear of the Silverado is fitted with a custom-built axle featuring a Rockcrusher D60R centersection, Precision Gear 5.13:1 gears, and a Detroit Locker. It too features custom brackets to facilitate disc brakes. It's suspended by Full Throttle's four-link coilover conversion kit with 14-inch King coilover remote-reservoir piggyback shocks and an antiroll bar. Notable are the FK spherical rod ends on all of the Full Throttle four-link bars.

The space formerly occupied by the front suspension is filled with a custom-built axle featuring a Rockcrusher D60R centersection with Precision Gear 5.13:1 gears and a Detroit Locker. Custom brackets allow the axle to be fitted with disc brakes. This beefy axle is bolted to a Full Throttle four-link coilover conversion kit. The kit includes everything needed to complete the conversion including 14-inch King billet piggyback coilover shocks, a new pitman arm, and antiroll bars. The large 39.5x18-16.5 Boggers are mounted on 16.5x14 Weld Racing Rock Crusher wheels. Helping to point this big wheel-and-tire combo in the proper direction is AGR Rock Ram hydraulic-assist steering.

The 5.3L V-8 engine has had its power output enhanced by a number of bolt-on items, including the new Whipple twin-screw supercharger for '04 and '05 5.3L engines. Whipple says this new supercharger can produce up to a 50-percent increase in horsepower and torque over stock. The engine has also been fitted with JBA headers and a 2.5-inch-diameter Xtreme Flow after-cat exhaust. Bolted to the engine is the stock 4L60E automatic transmission, but the output shaft has been changed to facilitate the installation of the NP208 transfer case (remember, this was originally a two-wheel-drive truck). From the transfer case, the power is transferred to the axles by a pair of Tom Wood's cardan-equipped driveshafts.

While the Silverado was disassembled, the frame was powdercoated (twice) by Central Cal Powdercoating in Sanger, California, and the body was painted Dupont Red by Steve Martinez of Madera, California. Martinez also smoothed and color-matched the front and rear bumpers and applied Pearl ghost flames. After the body was reunited with the frame, a Precision billet grille was bolted in place of the stock unit.

Owner:James Bertao, Fresno, California
Vehicle/Model: '04 Chevrolet Silverado
Estimated Value: $75,000

Type: 5.3L OHV V-8
Aspiration: Fuel injection, Whipple twin-screw supercharger, JBA headers, 2.5-inch-diameter after-cat Extreme Flow exhaust
Output, hp and torque: 427 hp, 445 lb-ft

Transmission: 4L60E with shorter output shaft
Transfer case: NP208

Front: Full Throttle four-link coilover conversion kit, King billet Piggyback coilover shocks, FK spherical rod ends on four-link bars
Rear: Full Throttle four-link coilover conversion kit, King billet Piggyback coilover shocks, FK spherical rod ends on four-link bars

Front: Custom with Rockcrusher D60R centersection and Cs, Detroit Locker, custom disc-brake brackets, AGR Rock Ram hydraulic-assist steering
Rear: Custom with Rockcrusher D60R centersection, Detroit Locker, custom disc-brake brackets
Ring and pinion: 5.13:1

Wheels: 16.5x14 Weld Racing Rock Crusher
Tires: 39.5x18-16.5 Boggers

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