Part 4: Sleeper Suspension
Travel is what the Ultimate Adventure is all about. From the distance you drive to the flex of your rig, the greater the travel the tougher the components need to be. And when it came time to get our Ultimate Z71's suspension in order, we knew that the flagship vehicle could be nothing short of bulletproof. So far we've cut (Aug. '08), shortened (Sept. '08), and beefed (Oct. '08) our '00 GMC Sierra to help it better survive the grueling wheeling trip that is Ultimate Adventure.
With the theme throughout being super sleeper, we knew we had to step it up in the suspension department so when this mild-looking pickup hit the trail it could crawl or blast over whatever terrain it encountered, even if it did look more out of place than Dolly Parton at a Metallica concert. Using readily available aftermarket parts we were able to keep our rig extremely low for stability, but still pull out more than 14 inches of front travel and 12 inches from the rear. I know you're probably glued to the awesome event coverage of the trip in this issue, but take a minute to check out the hard work and true craftsmanship that was put into the suspension by Mel Wade and his band of metal morphers at Off Road Evolution. From desert-racing technology and cutting-edge CAD designs to your basic run-of-the mill leaf springs, this GMC's suspension touches on all levels. For those of you who keep spinning the magazine in hopes of getting a better view of the truck's parts, go to www.4wheeloffroad.com and check out the photos we couldn't fit in the magazine.
We had a few ideas on how tall our Ultimate Z71 would be, but were pleasantly surprised when we parked it between a stock 2WD GMC and a Chevy 2500 HD with a 6-inch lift and 37s. Though we haven't pulled the frame measurements to compare, we're thinking it's around 7 inches of lift and that's with 40-inch tires that can tuck fully into the fender!
Check out how we hide a 15,000-pound Warn winch behind our stock bumper and manage to work through a few bugs and drivetrain issues as we bring it down to the wire before the Adventure. And for more on the UA Z71, slide over to the Web at www.4wheeloffroad.com.