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Daring 10: A Solid-Axle 2001 Chevy S-10 Crew Cab Pickup Built With Dollar-Smart Parts

A solid-axle Chevy built with dollar-smart parts

Ali MansourPhotographyGraffen WhiteAuthor

If you've been reading Four Wheeler over the last year, you will recognize this 2001 Chevy S-10 Crew Cab. Over the past several months, freelance contributor Ali Mansour has documented the transformation of the truck from bone stock to the incredible off-road-ready machine you see here. While a Crew Cab S-10 may not seem like an obvious pick for a major build, once you look at the low cost of entry and standard features, the S-10 begins to make sense in many respects.

With less than 120,000 miles on the odometer, the stock 4.3L Chevy V-6 is doing a decent job at powering the S-10 on- and off-road. Aside from a generic auto parts store air filter and Duralast-sourced 3/4-ton Suburban-application master cylinder upgrade, the engine bay remains mostly stock. Backing the engine is a fully refreshed 4L60E automatic transmission.

The S-10 doesn't have the major aftermarket support like a Toyota Tacoma. However, it doesn't have the price premium that even high-mileage, used versions of the Japanese pickups boast either. Given that the S-10 has a body-on-frame construction, reliable 4.3L engine, and limited electronic nannies, it made for an ideal home for the junkyard-sourced 1-ton axles and Jeep Wrangler suspension it would receive. Thanks to the extremely talented craftsmen at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Ali's vision of a do-it-all pickup become a reality.

While there are still a few upgrades and tweaks coming to this truly unique build, we wanted to show you the S-10 getting a thorough shakedown on the trail.

The high-pinion Dana 60 front axle was originally found under a '03 Ford Super Duty. This axle was completely torn down and modified using 35-spline chromoly axleshafts and 5.38 gears from Nitro Gear & Axle. Ensuring that both tires can fight for traction on the trail is an ARB Air Locker. Helping to steer the truck is a PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist steering kit, which works with a high-steer knuckle from Ujoint Offroad and steering link kit from Barnes 4WD.
Turning a 40-inch-tall tire off-road is no easy task with an 18-year-old V-6. To give the S-10 some serious gear reduction, a four-speed Atlas transfer case from Advance Adapters was installed. It provides 2:1, 2.72:1, and 5.44:1 low-range options, making it extremely versatile in the sometimes wet and rocky trails this truck will see. Getting power to the axles are custom JE Reel drivelines fit with 1350 CVs at the T-case.
For now, most of the inside of the truck remains stock. The biggest upgrade can be found at the center console. This custom metal console allows for easy access to the Atlas shift levers and ARB switches. The small remote sitting on the driver side is for the Warn winch.
Out back, you'll find a full-float GM 14-bolt axle that was pulled from a late-model 3/4-ton GMC. The advantage of going late model with the 14-bolt is that it came fit with disc brakes from the factory and was easy to adapt to the S-10's emergency brake system. Inside, a set of 5.38 gears are paired with an ARB Air Locker. As is the case with the front, the differential is protected by an X-treme series aluminum cover from Nitro Gear & Axle.
Much of the suspension comes from Rock Krawler and uses a mix of control arms and axle brackets designed for a Jeep Wrangler LJ. At the frame side, you'll find an assortment of high-clearance suspension brackets from Barnes 4WD. While Wrangler parts might not seem like an obvious crossover, a few quick measurements revealed they work almost perfectly for the Crew Cab S-10.
Supporting the truck at each corner are 12-inch-travel 2.625 coilovers from Rock Krawler. These are off-the-shelf shocks originally intended for the Jeep Wrangler JK. Again, after crunching a few numbers, Ali found the weights were similar enough to give these a shot. Each shock is supported via a custom tubular shock tower that was built by Low Range 4x4.
In the bed you'll find a 19-gallon RCI fuel cell that's been modified to accept the S-10's stock fuel pump assembly. Resting just after it is the fullsize spare. While in this configuration it leaves just enough room for a tool bag, portable air compressor, and recovery gear. Most of the time the truck runs without the spare out back.
One thing that might not translate extremely well in photos is just how low this truck is. This was accomplished by utilizing every inch of available uptravel, with significant trimming to the front fenders and bed. Given the amount of articulation the truck has, we can attest that every bit of that trimming was necessary.
Preserving the look of the S-10 was extremely important to the owner, and it's one of the reasons why the custom bumpers are so subtle. In fact, the front bumper is hiding a Warn M8000-S winch that requires the front grille, along with a small section of tubing, to be unbolted in order to remove it. At the end of the day, there's no denying that this mini-truck still very much looks like an S-10.
This truck was not intended to be a trailer queen. As such, great care was taken to choose a tire and wheel package that would be suitable on the highway and tough enough on the trail. Making that happen is a set of 40x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grapplers and 17x9 KMC Machete beadlocks. Having the ability to drop the Grapplers into the single-digit range was critical for trail comfort and performance. Having them locked to the wheel meant it could be done time and time again without fear of losing a bead.

At a Glance

General
Vehicle: '01 Chevy S-10
Owner: Ali Mansour
Stomping grounds: Wilmington, North Carolina
Build time: 9 Months
Drivetrain
Engine: 4.3L Chevy V-6
Transmission: 4L60E
Transfer case: Advance Adapters Atlas four-spd
Low range ratio(s): 2:1, 2.72:1, 5.44:1
Crawl ratio: 274:1 (max)
Front axle/differential: High-pinion Dana 60, Nitro Gear & Axle chromoly axleshafts, Warn hubs, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: GM 14-bolt, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker
Front suspension: Rock Krawler three-link w/12-in-travel Rock Krawler 2.625 coilovers
Rear suspension: Rock Krawler four-link w/triangulated uppers, 12-in-travel Rock Krawler 2.625 coilovers
Steering: PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist w/Ujoint Offroad high-steer arm
Tires/Wheels
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 KMC Machete beadlock
Miscellaneous
Armor: Custom bumpers, Trail-Gear sliders
Cool stuff: RCI 19-gal fuel cell, Warn M8000-S winch, JE Reel driveshafts, Barnes 4WD link brackets and 1-ton steering kit

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