Whether we've been wrenching on that rusty K-5 Blazer for decades or that new-school high-zoot buggy that's one rattlecan away from being on the trail, we all share that sweet sensation of accomplishment when it's finally time to set down the tools and get behind the wheel. Over the past few months and five issues we've chronicled the transformation of our '00 GMC Sierra Z71. Starting with the 8-year-old 1/2-ton we set forth converting that everyday pickup into a Super Sleeper wheeling rig built to lead 18 hard-core off-roaders on the wheeling trip of a lifetime known as the Ultimate Adventure.
With the tireless efforts of Mel Wade and his Off Road Evolution crew, we created the Ultimate Z71, a truck capable of more than 14 inches of suspension travel on 40-inch tires that's sleek enough that your hybrid-driving neighbors won't bat an eye, but dynamic enough to command attention when it hits the trail.
Though the 2008 Ultimate Adventure is now a thing of the past (Nov., Dec. '08 issues), there are a few finishing items we want to let you in on as we wrap up our GMC build. From the glossy new wrap from Ape Wraps to the sweet rumble of our tired engine (over 216k and counting), it's those little details and finishing touches that may take a little extra time but are worth it in the end. And for those of you just tuning in (where have you been!?) don't fret, because we have the entire buildup including web-exclusive extras that show the 1/2-ton's transformation from start to finish at 4wheeloffroad.com.
1. Sometimes giving a tired motor a little wake-up is as easy as bolting on one of K&N's cold-air intake kits. The K&N kit installed in roughly one hour, giving the 5.3L a noticeable increase in responsiveness, not to mention the service benefit of being able to inspect and access the intake quickly and easily.
2. Giving our tired V-8 a fresh sound is a single 3-inch Hushpower muffler. Due to the limited space, and with the drivetrain occupying more of the passenger side than ever before, we opted to go with a single exhaust pipe and route it out the driver side.