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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Chevy fans,

After many years wheeling our '69 Land cruiser I'm ready to build a little milder rig that will drive comfortably on the highway and still do some easier trails and back road exploring.

I've always liked the Colorado pickups with the factory 5.3, so last year I found a one owner low mile truck in Vegas that I just had to have..

Master plan goes something like this:

HP Dana 44 front axle
9.5" 14 bolt in the back
12" ORI Struts with radius arms up front
Stock k5 Blazer springs over the rear
3.8 Atlas
ARB's/4:88s

This list is a little out of the norm, but I'm trying to keep the ABS/Stabilitrac alive. I know..I know.. I sourced axles that will help with the electronics but are also stout enough to hold up to the V8.

I've been working on it (on and off) for the last 8 months, so I've made some decent progress. But now that it's getting closer to reality I thought I'd start a build thread so I could tap into all the big Chevy brains here on Pirate.

The pictures show before and where I am today. The front still has to be disassembled and fully welded out. I just have it tacked together to check everything for final clearance.

So far I'm pretty happy with how it's working out, but there have been times when I wished I had bought a Tacoma like everyone else :rolleyes:

What do you guys think?
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Before cutting the truck apart I found a 14 bolt rear axle out of a 2007 Denali so I could have the ABS rings as well as disc brakes and decent size axle shafts.

A buddy machined some inner sleeves so I could cut it down to 65" WMS. Had to do it this way since the tone rings ride on the axle shaft at the outer axle bearing.

Spent some time smoothing out the bottom side of the dif, then took it Sean for the ARB and gears.

Dutchman sent me some really nice custom length alloy shafts built to my measurements, so the rear axle is about done.

Finding a heavy duty cover for this axle was not easy but I finally found one at Ballistic. Hopefully the springs will settle down a little bit on the rear.
 

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Sub'd, I've always wondered why more people didn't build these smaller
trucks with a factory v-8, what are you doing about the rack and pinion steering?
 

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Nice, did you end up keeping the ABS/electronics happy? If you need some help I’ve got an H3 that uses the same system. I was able to keep my electronics happy and can probably answer questions you if you need it.

I’m in the Sac area as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sub'd, I've always wondered why more people didn't build these smaller
trucks with a factory v-8, what are you doing about the rack and pinion steering?
I used a Nissan Xterra box that I've had good luck with in the past. It fit nicely and I didn't even have to do much to get the stock steering shaft to work, just changed to an 11/16-36 spline joint at the box end and extend the shaft 2". You can kind of see where it ended up in the picture below (sorry its sideways-need to figure that out). I added the tube cross member to share the stress between both frame rails.

Nice, did you end up keeping the ABS/electronics happy? If you need some help I’ve got an H3 that uses the same system. I was able to keep my electronics happy and can probably answer questions you if you need it.

I’m in the Sac area as well.
As soon as I get everything burned in I'll be ready to start on the wiring/computer mods to make it all work. I've been following your H3 build for a while and you almost inspired me to go with an H3 Alpha instead of the Colorado, nice work!
Thanks-I'll definitely reach out when I get to that stage, since I know your rig has a lot more computers than mine!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I saw this on a local Craig's list, super cheap, almost bought it.



Someone did a lot of work to that one. Looks pretty sweet!



Here's a shot of the frame plates and shock towers in their final location. Fortunately, I didn't have to do much cutting on the inner fenders.

Anyone know how to fix the photos from turning 90 degrees when I upload them?:confused:
 

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Never understood why these weren't more popular either. The idea of a 4dr trail rig sized truck with a factory V8 option seems great! Its pretty easy to modify suspension and axles to get where you want, but being able to start with a drivetrain you want puts you way ahead of the game in the end. Even the 5cyl motor makes good power and torque. The auto is a standard 4l60e so easy to get adapters, the manuals are a variant of one of the toyota trans so easy to swap duals behind them.

Sure you wind up swapping out most of the drivetrain and suspension, but that seems pretty much the norm these days with any newer vehicle including jeeps.

Kevin
 

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Looking good!

I wished I would have started with a V8 Colorado, but the 5 cylinder was so much cheaper. I'm happy with how it performs, though.
 

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Never understood why these weren't more popular either. The idea of a 4dr trail rig sized truck with a factory V8 option seems great! Its pretty easy to modify suspension and axles to get where you want, but being able to start with a drivetrain you want puts you way ahead of the game in the end. Even the 5cyl motor makes good power and torque. The auto is a standard 4l60e so easy to get adapters, the manuals are a variant of one of the toyota trans so easy to swap duals behind them.

Sure you wind up swapping out most of the drivetrain and suspension, but that seems pretty much the norm these days with any newer vehicle including jeeps.

Kevin
i think the issue is that the V8s still retain a lot of their value. you are talking well above half ton prices for a rado/cayon of the same vintage. and its a pretty detuned 5.3. the factory ones i drove were turds. it does have the same intake as the trail blazer SS that people spend big money on. i think there is a lot of power to be freed up with a simple tune.

the I5s make decent power. more than a jeep 4.0. but are notorious for head issues.

i found a rust free platform with a bad I5 and swapped an LM7 in using current performance motor mounts. i can also confirm that a 4L80 fits without modification to the firewall/tunnel.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
i think the issue is that the V8s still retain a lot of their value. you are talking well above half ton prices for a rado/cayon of the same vintage. and its a pretty detuned 5.3. the factory ones i drove were turds. it does have the same intake as the trail blazer SS that people spend big money on. i think there is a lot of power to be freed up with a simple tune.

the I5s make decent power. more than a jeep 4.0. but are notorious for head issues.

i found a rust free platform with a bad I5 and swapped an LM7 in using current performance motor mounts. i can also confirm that a 4L80 fits without modification to the firewall/tunnel.
The factory 5.3 trucks definitely bring a premium price. I could have started with a non V8 base truck and done the conversion for less money, but being in California it makes my life a lot easier to go this route.

In stock form this truck was a blast to drive, plenty of power to hold it's own with most stock truck platforms. I ran it against my Coyote powered F-150 and it walked away. I'm sure being 1500# lighter didn't hurt. Agree that a tune would probably wake it up even more.

If I was ever going to build one as a more hardcore trail rig, I was thinking that I'd start with an extra-cab 6' bed version, then shorten the rear frame about a foot to give it a JKish 114" wheelbase. A stock 4 door bed would then fit with no bodywork involved. It would still have a pretty long rear overhang, but with 40" tires and some rear quarter panel protection it would be a very capable LS powered trail rig for half the price of a JK.

These kind of thoughts always tend to get me into trouble...
 

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If I was ever going to build one as a more hardcore trail rig, I was thinking that I'd start with an extra-cab 6' bed version, then shorten the rear frame about a foot to give it a JKish 114" wheelbase. A stock 4 door bed would then fit with no bodywork involved. It would still have a pretty long rear overhang, but with 40" tires and some rear quarter panel protection it would be a very capable LS powered trail rig for half the price of a JK.

These kind of thoughts always tend to get me into trouble...
haha. funny you mention that... thats literally what im doing.

the crew cab bed on the ext cab chassis would shorten the wheel base right at 12", bringing it down to 114". then after stretching the front out to clear the cab and the rear to help some with departure it ends up right around 120". ive got it all in CAD. the motor/trans/case are in but my progress has been so slow i havent bothered to make a build thread.

i just drool when a thread like yours rolls along. would love to see more photos of the front suspension and steering whenever you get a chance.
 

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haha. funny you mention that... thats literally what im doing.

the crew cab bed on the ext cab chassis would shorten the wheel base right at 12", bringing it down to 116". then after stretching the front out to clear the cab and the rear to help some with departure it ends up right around 120". ive got it all in CAD. the motor/trans/case are in but my progress has been so slow i havent bothered to make a build thread.

i just drool when a thread like yours rolls along. would love to see more photos of the front suspension and steering whenever you get a chance.
Please make a build thread! Sounds awesome!
 

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Looking good!

I wished I would have started with a V8 Colorado, but the 5 cylinder was so much cheaper. I'm happy with how it performs, though.
Did these come with a manual? Isn’t this the same family of motors as the 4cliynder?

haha. funny you mention that... thats literally what im doing.

the crew cab bed on the ext cab chassis would shorten the wheel base right at 12", bringing it down to 114". then after stretching the front out to clear the cab and the rear to help some with departure it ends up right around 120". ive got it all in CAD. the motor/trans/case are in but my progress has been so slow i havent bothered to make a build thread.

i just drool when a thread like yours rolls along. would love to see more photos of the front suspension and steering whenever you get a chance.
Build thread please? Some tech would be great even if it is virtual.
 

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If I was ever going to build one as a more hardcore trail rig, I was thinking that I'd start with an extra-cab 6' bed version, then shorten the rear frame about a foot to give it a JKish 114" wheelbase. A stock 4 door bed would then fit with no bodywork involved. It would still have a pretty long rear overhang, but with 40" tires and some rear quarter panel protection it would be a very capable LS powered trail rig for half the price of a JK.

These kind of thoughts always tend to get me into trouble...
BINGO, so many people buy a JK, put 1 tons under it then do a V8 swap...while I started with the 5 cyl and had to go through the cal legal V8 swap process my buddy and I have been saying the same thing for years. Just buy a Colorado, H3 alpha, V8 4 runner or some other similar late model vehicle with a factory V8. Most end up ripping the JK suspension out anyways.
 

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BINGO, so many people buy a JK, put 1 tons under it then do a V8 swap. Just buy a Colorado, H3 alpha, V8 4 runner or some other similar late model vehicle with a factory V8. Most end up ripping the JK suspension out anyways.
This guy gets it.

I'm still building a V8 Colorado I've bought new in 2010. It's a great platform and makes an awesome camping truck for poor guys like me.

My "build" has been mostly to improve reliability but it goes anywhere I need to go. I've tried to take out the weak links and so far it's been great.

Love seeing these Colorado builds. :D
 
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