2003 Chevy Silverado: Project Over/Under- The Final Chapter
After a Year and 13 Installments, Our Mission is Complete
We're finally calling it done. The $500 work truck we picked up well over a year ago has had all manner of work done to it, and the miles we have put on it both on and off road are proof of the quality of work we performed on the truck as well a testament to the manufacturers we chose for the long lift of aftermarket components on the truck.
It all began with Editor in Chief Jeremy Cook's idea to do a lower buck version of all the overland-style trucks out there that have gained so much attention lately. We're all for functional off-road trucks—and putting your truck to work on the weekends—and the huge support the truck aftermarket has provided with their wide array of aftermarket parts is just the icing on the cake.
But where to start? Always one for a challenge, Jeremy decided to pick up what is currently the ugly duckling of the GM truck world—a 2003 Silverado. Not only that, the truck is a longbed, a standard cab, a two-wheel drive, and has the 4.8L powerplant in it. As if that wasn't stacking the cards enough, this work truck had seen its fair share of wear and tear—it actually had a utility bed on it the first time Jeremy saw it!
So, with nothing but a tired cab and chassis, we set out to build a reliable daily driver that could also handle rough terrain and be camped out of when the need arises. The first task was to find a bed and tailgate locally that were cheap and in good condition and preferably white like the cab. Somehow that all happened, and soon we had a complete truck to work with. For some reason, we decided to work from the inside out on this build, which is almost never the case, but it's just the way things worked out.
Read More on This Project!
Installing a Viper Alarm, JL Audio, and a Custom Subwoofer Enclosure in our Standard Cab Silverado
We Custom Paint our Project Truck in a Matte Finish with Auto Air Colors, LGE-CTS, and LMC Truck
Installing a 7-inch lift with Bulletproof Suspension, Fox Shocks, and LMC Truck
With nothing more than an oil check, the first stop was a 100-mile trip out to Audiotistics in Victorville, California, for a full audio and alarm treatment. We gutted the interior for cleaning and the crew installed a JVC head unit and JL audio components in the stock locations. Behind the seat, Tim and the crew built a custom enclosure for the 13-inch JL shallow sub as well as the 900-watt five-channel JL amp. Simultaneously, the truck was wired up with a Viper alarm with remote start, LED remote, and power door locks. This was a work truck, remember? Next, the stock seats were recovered in Roadwire leather covers with perforated diamond-tuck inserts, and we found a folding center console (standard cabs don't have them) and Stitchcraft Custom interiors upholstered it to match. Revo and the crew also helped us install the new carpet from LMC and wrapped the headliner in matching suede perf material. We finished off the interior with a custom leather-wrapped replacement steering wheel from Grant and a custom glass tint from Daley Visual.
For budget's sake, we wanted to keep our well-running 4.8L intact, but that didn't mean we would leave it alone. A major tune-up was in order which found us at Powerhouse Performance where Thomas and the crew installed a set of JBA Headers, Gibson exhaust, Pertronix Coils and wires, Jet throttle body, K&N air intake, and Hypertech programmer. Later we added a Powermaster alternator and dual Odyssey batteries wired up with Painless products. A little detailing under the hood and we were calling the underhood area done.
The truck felt good on the inside, but the exterior was truly lacking. We sought to update the truck as much as possible while also giving it more of an HD look, and we wanted to distract from the fact that this was a standard cab, longbed as much as possible. We started with the addition of a SnugTop shell as well as an HD hood from LMC and stripped the rest of the truck. The original plans were to wrap the truck, so we worked with Daley Visual's on-call bodyman to help us prep the truck for vinyl. But Jeremy could not find anything even close to the matte beige he envisioned. Plans quickly changed, and thanks to the huge amount of help from Theresa Contreras and the crew at LGE-CTS, we soon found ourselves there prepping the truck for paint. Auto Air Colors supplied all the paint, including the new Scenix clear, and Jeremy and Theresa mixed up samples until they had exactly what they were looking for. Working after hours, they knocked out the paint and Jeremy was soon assembling the truck.
The front end received a Silverado SS grille from LMC as well as custom Anzo lighting. We also added HD mirrors and factory fender flares to the truck before the Move bumpers, filled with lighting from All Terrain Concepts, were bolted up front and rear. N-Fab steps flank each rocker. The lights were wired up using a Trigger Six Shooter wireless control system. The final touch to the exterior was a custom-modified Yakima Megaloader roof rack. The addition of the shell, combined with the rack and steps that span past the end of the cab to the bed and onto the roof, do a great job disguising this work truck's roots.
The truck was admittedly looking pretty funny at this point, as the suspension, wheels and tires are usually the first modifications to be done, but we were still on task, and soon we were at new Century Tire in Westminster, California, for the final transformation. We ripped out the entire suspension and started by rebuilding the stock lower control arms. We added in a Bulletproof Suspension lift kit consisting of tubular upper control arms, fabricated spindles, and lift springs. We added in Fox 2.0 Shox, all new steering components from LMC and EBC rotors and pads before we called the front end done. Atlas 4.5-inch dual rate springs transformed the rear and Fox reservoir Shox and EBC brakes were added to match the front. We also completely rebuilt the rear end with a limited-slip unit and 4.56:1 gears from Nitro Gear. The final additions to the Silverado were the 18-inch Fuel Podium wheels and 55-inch General Grabber ATX tires. With the huge amount of additional clearance, suspension travel and low gearing, we were confident we could take this truck as far as any 2WD out on the trails.
With the build complete, we've managed to put a few miles on the truck and are genuinely impressed with the results. It actually feels a lot like a new truck. With all of the creature comforts, and a handful of goodies for getting off the beaten path, we're confident we'll get plenty of miles, and more importantly, fun out of this truck for a long time. And we'll look good doing it!
Inside the build:
Year/Make/Model: 2003 Chevy Silverado 1500
Owner and City/State: Truckin Magazine; Orange County, CA
Front Suspension: Bulletproof Suspension 7-inch lift using fabricated spindles, and tubular upper control arms, Fox aluminum-bodied shocks, rebuilt lowers, all new steering components and hubs from LMC, tie-rod reinforcers from Readylift, Hellwig swaybar, EBC drilled & slotted rotors and Orange Stuff pads, braided stainless brakelines
Rear Suspension: Atlas 4.5-inch dual-rate overland leaf springs, Fox reservoir shocks, EBC drilled & slotted rotors and Orange Stuff pads, Hellwig sway bar
Engine: 4.8L, JBA ceramic coated headers, Gibson Custom exhaust, Pertronix coils and plug wires, Jet Performance throttle Body, K&N cold air intake, Hypertech power programmer, custom dual-battery system with Odyssey Extreme Batteries, Powermaster Alternator, and Painless wiring and solenoid
Transmission: Rebuilt 4L60
Rearend: Nitro Gear & Axle 4.56:1 gears and limited-slip unit, Nitro finned aluminum cover, custom driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline, installed by Martin Gear of OC
2006 HD hood, Snug Top shell, custom mixed Auto Air matte tan paint, sprayed by Theresa Contreras of LGE-CTS, San Dimas, CA, Move custom bumpers, powdercoated at Coast Powdercoating, San Clemente, CA; N-fab steps, HD fender flares, '06 SS grille, billet Bowtie, taillights and HD mirrors from LMC, Anzo halo headlights and LED parking lights, All Terrain Concepts 20-inch LED lightbar and six pods, custom Yakima Megaloader roof rack
Roadwire custom leather seats with perforated inserts, custom carpet and suede perf headliner from Stitchcraft, Westminster, CA , Grant custom leather steering wheel, LMC floormats, carpeted SnugTop shell with USB ports, sprayed bedliner, Bed Rug carpet, Swing Case Storage, Side mounted fullsize spare, Viair portable compressor, Harbor Freight emergency tools
JVC 7-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth, JL Audio component speakers, JL audio 5-channel 900-watt amp, JL Audio 13-inch subwoofer in custom enclosure behind seat, Viper alarm with LCD remote and remote start, iPhone app, all work done by Audiotistics, Victorville, CA
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 18x9; Fuel Podium wheels, powdercoated black with gold bolts and custom lugs; 8-Lug adapters from Wheel Adapters USA
Tires: 35x12.50R18; General Grabber ATX
Special Thanks from Owner: Vera Alexandra Cook; Theresa Contreras, Craig Kennedy, Sheri Herrmann, Thomas Hale, Fernando Gutierrez, Tim Wepprecht, Allan Lindsay, Mike Hallmark, David Engle, Josh Daley, Revo Reeves, and all the loyal readers of Truckin Magazine