Anyone who says fullsize rigs are too big, too bulky, and too heavy to do well on the trails of Moab need to take a long, hard look at Dirk Phillips '83 Chevy Silverado. This amazing machine makes mincemeat out of Potato Salad Hill and it ridicules Hell's Revenge. Its true: We've seen it with our own eyes. In action, the Chevy glides over these obstacles and trails almost effortlessly. Of course, it certainly doesn't hurt that Phillips actually lives in Moab, and thus he can hone his driving skills on these legendary obstacles and trails any time he wishes. Moab residency notwithstanding, what's amazing is that his rig isn't a high-tech-stuffed, big-dollar machine. As a matter of fact, it's relatively low-tech by today's standards, and that's the beauty of it. It's an example of simplicity and ingenuity in motion.
The interior retains most of its stock appointments with the exception of a Grant steering wheel; Sun Pro Super Pro tachometer; and a JVC/Pioneer/Kenwood audio system. To ensure safety, there's a custom four-point rollcage.
Aside from the custom bed, exterior mods are minimal, and they're designed to enhance the truck's trail performance. The stock rocker panels have been removed and replaced with custom 1.5x3-inch sliders made from 0.25-inch-wall tubing. The front bumper was ditched in favor of a custom unit made from 1.5-inch-diameter, 0.120-inch-wall DOM tubing. It is designed to absorb trail abuse as well as hold a pair of aircraft landing lights so Phillips can clearly see down the trail at night. Phillips also added a pair of tow points on the front with clevis.
Under the hood is a 350ci V-8 engine that spent most its life in an '87 3/4-ton pickup. To improve its performance, it's been fitted with a Holley 650-cfm throttle body using a Howell wiring harness; Edelbrock Performer intake; MSD distributor, coil and wires; Hedman Hedders; dual 2.5-inch-diameter exhaust; and Hooker mufflers. To power all of the truck's electronics, Phillips installed dual Interstate batteries using a Ford starter solenoid as an isolator.
At a time when coilovers and remote-reservoir shocks are all the rage, Phillips' capable Chevy uses old-school 52-inch-long front leaf springs that generate about 6 inches of lift. They're part National Spring, part whatever was lying around. He modified them to move the front axle 1 inch forward under the truck. The leaves are mounted to Off Road Design greasable heavy-duty rear shackles and custom front spring perches that generate an additional 2 inches of lift. The front perches mount to a custom crossmember that offers added strength to the structural integrity of the chassis. The shocks are Rancho RS 9000s. The Dana 60 front axle was procured from Off Road Design, and it features a Powertrax locker, 35-spline outers, and Precision Gear 4.56:1 gears. Phillips built his own crossover steering, which includes a Dodge 4-inch-drop pitman arm and a tie-rod and drag link created from 1.5-inch-diameter, 38-inch-wall tubing. Spherical rod ends are used on the tie rod to ensure flexibility. A Redneck Ram hydraulic-assist steering system makes aiming the 38.5x14.50 Swampers easy.
Right behind the TH400 transmission is an NP208 transfer case. It has a custom skidplate to ensure it doesn't leave part of its aluminum case lying on the Moab slickrock. By the time you read this, there will be an NP205 in there as well, courtesy of an Off Road Design doubler kit.
Like the front, the rear suspension is a low-tech leaf-spring setup. The leaf pack is simply a Blazer spring pack with the addition of a 2-inch add-a-leaf and an Off Road Design shackle flip kit that helps generate another 4 inches of lift. Like the front, it's dampened by Rancho RS 9000 shocks. The rear axle is a tough GM 14-bolt, sourced from a '78 1-ton truck. It's stuffed with Precision Gear 4.56:1 gears and a Detroit Locker. Phillips runs 15x10 American Racing wheels with 3.25 inches of backspacing to generate clearance for the front Dana 60 brake calipers.
One of the most obvious modifications to the truck is this cool custom aluminum bed. Phillips built and installed the bed himself after removing 12 inches of the rear of the Chevy's frame. After he removed the section of frame, he installed three crossmembers to ensure that the frame retained its rigidity. Phillips built the bed to serve his trail needs, and it holds a 15-gallon fuel cell; various tools; a spare front driveshaft; a Hi-Lift jack; a pair of 3-gallon air tanks; a Quick Air 3 air compressor; a pair of flush-mounted air chucks; a spare tire; a cooler; and various other odds and ends. Further, there's a cool aluminum rear shock-hoop assembly that serves as a mounting point for the top of the rear shocks. This assembly utilizes rubber mounts to eliminate rattling over rough terrain.
Owner: Dirk Phillips, Moab, Utah
Vehicle/Model: '93 Chevy Silverado
Estimated Value: $10,000
Type: 350ci Chevy V-8
Aspiration: Holley TBI, Edelbrock Performer
intake, Hedman Hedders, 2.5-inch exhaust, Hooker
Output, hp @ rpm/torque @ rpm (est): 300 @
Transfer case: NP208
Front: Custom 52-inch leaves, custom 2-inch front
ORD heavy-duty greasable rear shackles, Rancho RS 9000 shocks
Rear: Chevy Blazer leaf springs, ORD shackle flip,
Rancho RS 9000 shocks
Front: Dana 60, 35-spline outers, custom crossover
steering, Redneck Ram hydraulic/Powertrax
Rear: 14-bolt/Detroit Locker
Ring and pinion: 4.56:1
Wheels: 15x10 American Racing steel
Tires: 38.5x14.50-15 Swampers