Back in the '80s, many trucks were just, well ... tall. Function wasn't a priority because attitudes were different. Back then it was all about lifting trucks as tall as possible for visual shock value. Of course, in many cases the end result was a truck that offered almost zero suspension travel and a bone-jarring ride akin to an 1800's buckboard.
Trends change, and today function overrules form for many truck builders. In many ways we have rockcrawling to thank for this. The suspension design and components created to help crawl what in the '80s were considered insurmountable boulders has trickled into the mainstream. Now we're seeing this exciting technology applied to tall fullsized rigs.
Jerrod Adkins' '00 Chevy Silverado is a great example of this. It features a super-flexy, state-of-the-art suspension system that incorporates another new invention: 49-inch-diameter tires. Adkins, a college senior, was inspired to build this truck after helping his brother work on his custom rockcrawler. Throughout his college years he collected the needed parts, and during the summer break he'd wrench on the truck. After three years of juggling wrenching and school, something had to give, so he turned the truck over to the wizards at Kat Kustoms in New Knoxville, Ohio, for completion.
The end result is this functional fullsize truck that sports the DNA of a rockcrawling rig. The chrome crowd may be appalled at the bare metal and lack of bling, but in Adkins' world, function overrules form-at least until he puts that college degree to work and earns enough Benjamins to have the whole thing painted.
The Chevy's suspension plan was threefold. First, it had to be tall enough to fit 49-inch-diameter tires; second, it had to be tough and rugged; and third, it had to be capable of incredible articulation. You'll notice chrome wasn't a part of that formula. The solution was a three-link system that consists of lower control arms and a triangulated upper link. All of these arms are made from beefy 2-inch DOM tubing and feature chromoly Teflon-lined spherical rod ends and high misalignment spacers at all connection points to allow full articulation without binding. The suspension generates 28 inches of lift. The suspension also includes King Off-Road Racing remote-reservoir 2.5x16 coilover shocks and custom quick-disconnect 1.25-inch-diameter antiroll bars with spherical rod ends. Here you can see the front suspension system and the uniquely modified steering system. In an effort to ensure proper steering behavior, Kat Kustoms designed what they call a double-back steering system. The system consists of an upper drag link connected to the pitman arm (which was rotated 90 degrees and fitted with a threaded insert so that a spherical rod end could be installed to maximize articulation). This upper drag link is routed on the inside of the framerail to a steering rocker arm located in the center of the truck, in the new subframe. Connected to the lower end of the steering rocker arm is the lower drag link. At the forward end, the lower drag link connects to the driver-side steering knuckle. There's also a high-steer kit for the tie rod. Even with the tall lift, this unique steering system provides accurate steering using the GM steering box and it doesn't hinder suspension travel. It also eliminates bumpsteer. The front axle is a high-pinion Dana 60 that has been re-geared to 5.13:1 using Yukon gears, and it's been heavily modified with trussing and mounts for the three-link suspension.
During construction, it became clear that the Chevy's stock transfer case wasn't going to be compatible with the new axles and suspension. It was determined that driveshafts would be impossible to fit properly. For this reason the stock Muncie five-speed manual transmission was replaced with a two-wheel-drive application Muncie five-speed (this offered the tailshaft needed for the new divorce-mounted 198:1 ratio NP200 transfer case). The new transfer case rests on a custom mount with poly bushings. This assembly bolts to the custom subframe. Kat Kustoms made the intermediate shaft that features 1350 U-joints and Tom Wood's Custom Driveshafts made the other shafts. The rear shaft is equipped with 1350 U-joints, while the front shaft uses a 42-degree high-angle CV at the transfer case and a Super Flex U-joint at the axle.
Owner: Jerrod Adkins, Beckley, West Virginia
Vehicle/Model: 2000 Chevy Silverado
Estimated Value: $48,000
Type: 5.3L V-8
Aspiration: Fuel injection, K&N FIPK kit, custom dual 3-inch-diameter after-cat exhaust
Output, hp and torque: N/A
Transmission: Muncie five-speed manual
Transfer Case(s): Divorced NP200
Front: Three-link; two lower control arms and triangulated upper control arm, King Racing 2.5x16-inch remote-reservoir coilover shocks, Beard limiting straps
Rear: Three-link; two lower control arms and triangulated upper control arm, King Racing 2.5x16-inch remote-reservoir coilover shocks
Front: High-pinion Dana 60, disc brakes, custom truss, custom double back steering system/open
Rear: Dana 60, disc brakes, custom truss/Detroit Locker
Ring and pinion: 5.13:1
Wheels: Custom 20x18 Stazworks double internal bead lock
Tires: 49x21-20 Interco Irok