There is no question that the four-wheeling hobby is ever-evolving. While most hardcore 4x4s tend to evolve with tougher and heavier-duty parts, much of their sheetmetal tends to devolve. For many wheeling enthusiasts, the wavy tin panels and scarred tubing is a testament of what the rig has been through and adds to the history and character of the vehicle.
Recently we jumped in line on a trail ride with one such character-rich 4x4 piloted by Brian Allen. Brian, like many wheelers, started out with a stock ’96 Chevy S-10 and was simply looking to make it perform better off-road. After years of gradual progression, countless trail rides, and many hours at the shop, his S-10 now only slightly resembles the once pristine ZR2 pickup that it was. With elements of buggy, budget, and high-end performance littered throughout his rig, Brian’s goal for his beaten Bow Tie has always been to keep function first. And though we would have loved to have seen the modified S-10 pickup when Brian say’s it was still in prime “looking” condition, we appreciate the fact that he continues to modify his original truck and is always looking for new ways to evolve his well-used wheeler.
A pickup’s bed is usually one of the first casualties of hardcore wheeling, and Brian’s extended cab S-10 was no exception. To replace the factory bed, a custom 13⁄4-inch–tube back half was fabricated, turning the S-10 into what many refer to as a Truggy. Though spacing is pretty limited in the rear of the truck, there is still enough room for a fullsize spare, an RCI fuel cell, and a cooler.
Mated to the 4L60E automatic transmission is a NP231/NP205 Doubler. This custom transfer case setup gives Brian a 1.96, 2.72, or 5.4:1 low range gearing option so he can either crawl or gas his way over an obstacle.
Up front the original independent front suspension was deleted in favor of a high-pinion Dana 60 and triangulated four-link suspension. To control the full-width 1-ton axle, the S-10 uses a set of Sway-A-Way coilovers that net the heavily modified ZR2 16 inches of wheel travel.
The factory 4.3L engine served the S-10 well for many years, but with the heavyweight of the 1-ton axle combo and competition use in its future, the V-6 was prime for replacement. Sitting in its place is a custom-tuned 5.3L V-8 supported by a 13⁄4-inch DOM tube sub-frame that ties into the original chassis.
1996 Chevy S-10
Engine: 5.3L V-8 with LS6 cam/spring, custom tune
Transfer case: NP231/NP205 Doubler 1.96, 2.72, 5.4:1
Front Axle: Dana 60, welded spider gears, drive flanges, 5.13 gears
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, Detroit Locker, 5.13 gears
Springs & Such: 4-link front with 16-inch–travel Sway-A-Way coilovers and bumpstops; 4-link rear with 16-inch–travel ORI struts
Tires & Wheels: 42x15 Pit Bull Rockers on 17x9 Trail Ready beadlocks
Steering: Fully hydraulic double-ended ram with solid high steer arms
Other Stuff: Custom front and rear chassis of 13⁄4-inch DOM tube, Warn 9.5 TI winch, custom cage, RCI fuel cell