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Turning a Fake Off-Road Truck into a Real High-Performance Pickup

Perception-to-Performance

We’ve all either seen, ridden in or driven lifted-style street trucks with powder-coated suspension and big-lipped wheels. They look amazing and they generally perform better than you would expect, but unless you’re willing to throw insane amounts of time and money into completely re-engineering your truck’s suspension, the performance will always suffer. We’re not talking about 0-60 times here. We know some of those diesel trucks put off some insane power, but imagine track racing one of those big rigs next to six other trucks with foot-and-a-half-wide wheels. Interesting concept actually. I know I’d pay to watch it….

I’m my experience, every gearhead has their own particular need for speed. Whether it comes from the desire to compete, a cure for some much-needed stress relief or just simply the thrill of the chase, white-knuckle driving is so therapeutic, am I right? After owning a commonly seen lifted truck for a few years with an inexpensive bolt-on powder-coated suspension, we felt it was time to restyle this Chevy and make it more go than show, although we think it’s going to look pretty good, too. Many readers out there have the same style truck and it’s been years since it felt fresh. Instead of cashing in and financing a new $80,000 truck, why not have a little fun with the truck you already own? Especially if it’s hiding a ProCharger under the hood like this truck is.

Over the next few issues, we will completely restyle this 2011 mall crawler with the help of Belltech Suspension, Black Rhino Wheels, Toyo Tires, Extreme Dimensions, ProCharger, MagnaFlow, Underground Lighting, Prosport Gauges, Premier Truck Center and A1 Tire and Wheel of Ocala, Florida. Follow along with part one of this Silverado-style swap as we start with suspension. Upcoming issues will document a facelift with Extreme Dimensions body styling pieces and what to expect when you get a custom engine tune. Stay up to date with this and our other projects by following us online at our website of on social media!

Product Source –
BellTech Suspension – https://www.belltech.com/
Black Rhino Wheels – https://www.blackrhinowheels.com/
Toyo Tires – https://www.toyotires.com/

The last look at this great-looking but under-performing lifted 2011 Chevy Silverado. In this picture it has a 7.5-inch lift kit on 35-inch Atturo Tires and 20×12 Moto Metal wheels. The back axle also has a 2-inch wheel spacer. Kinda sketchy right?

With the truck on the lift you can see how far it has to drop just to get back to stock, let alone lowered 3 inches or so on Belltech coilovers.

Mike and the team at Premier Truck Center in Ocala maintain an incredibly clean work area which gives us supreme confidence in their abilities. Not to mention they have been building trucks for more than 40 years, so experience is always on their side.

First thing to go is the coil spring/strut assembly. The new Sport suspension from Belltech comes with a completely new strut/spring assembly so no need for a spring compressor on this project.

Unbolting the hub from the spindle and disconnecting the brake lines will clear the remaining factory pieces.

The candy apple coated spindle is the last to go, and even though it’s been off a time or two before, a BFH is still needed to free the ball joint loose. (Search It)

Next on the chopping block are the drop brackets that relocate the suspension pieces to raise the frame of the truck. Luckily these were all bolt in, so no need to worry about welding or grinding.

After unpacking all the Belltech suspension parts its clear how well engineered this system is. The kit includes front coilovers and a new heavy-duty sway bar for tighter corner-carving. We also opted for the 2-inch drop spindles for a real aggressive stance. The rear pieces include a leaf spring flip kit to bring the axle above the leaf springs and a shackle/hanger kit to raise the mounting points, which lowers the truck.

Before the spindles could be hung, Jeff gave them a solid coat of paint after a quick bath in carb cleaner.

Before the new spindles can be mounted the Belltech coilovers are set in place and both top and bottom bolts are hand-tightened.

Moving on Mike can now hang the spindle on the lower control arm and hand tighten the crown bolt.

The upper control arm is next in line followed by the swaybar end links. Once everything is in place and positioned correctly, impact and torque wrenches finish off the job.

After tightening everything up we set the spring height using the provided wrench and locked it in with the set screw. We also set the compression rate to 5 on both sides until we can test and tune the suspension.

The final piece to the front-end puzzle is to bolt up Belltech’s beefy sway bar which simply replaces the factory one maintaining all the factory hardware.

Kurt at A1 Tire and Wheel in Ocala came in clutch when we needed it and we can’t thank him enough. In upcoming issues we will work one on one with Kurt to measure for the perfect offset wheel on both classic and modern trucks. If you need wheel or tire advice, we highly suggest you contact this group of gurus.

The 22-inch Black Rhino look super sporty and should give us a solid amount of surface contact thanks to the staggered fit Toyo Proxes STIII tires. More info on this combination coming up in the next issue.

Look sweet hanging on the lift! Can’t wait to see it on the ground and ready for the Dyno Tune. Part two coming up in the next issue!

Before we can move to the back, a quality control check is a must and we know just the guy to do the inspection.

Stay tuned for the second part of this two-part series!

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