Flying high in a lifted Tahoe while tearing up the sand may sound like a dream for some, but for Carson Braga, the experience is a daily occurrence. Add to that combination a kickin' sound system and gorgeous green paint with flames and one might consider things too good to be true. Asking Carson what he thought, laughter is heard with a statement true to his philosophy, "Man, it can never be too high." Right on, Carson. That's why we love his Tahoe because he is never satisfied.
The year was 1999, and in one builder's mind, a project was underway. After purchasing the Tahoe, Carson began a to-do list that included a huge lift, trick body mods, killer audio, and a look that would be unique to Carson's fullsize sport ute. Owning several fullsize sand toys before his latest venture, Carson knew help would be needed from qualified and trusted friends, so the Tahoe was dropped off with his friend Chris Hill at Hill Four Wheel Drive. While at the shop, the Tahoe was stripped down to the frame, sanded, smoothed, and painted silver. With the paint dry, a completely green and sliver powdercoated Full Throttle 10-inch suspension lift was added, along with a Performance Accessories 2-inch body lift. Responsible for handling the flex and rebounding duties are six Doetsch shocks with reservoirs. Before complete reassembly was accomplished, an onslaught of Energy Suspension bushings were installed, and 3/4-ton torsion bars and keyways were added, allowing for an even higher lift. Totaling 15 inches of lift, the Tahoe was now soaring, but Carson still wasn't satisfied.
Realizing the Tahoe's potential, performance was now on the horizon. Aiding in turning the tires easier is a six-lug, 3/4-ton, 14-bolt rearend complete with massive 4.88 gears, thanks to an ATS transmission, built by Dave Acosta from Southeast Diesel Performance. Front to back performance is accomplished as air enters the AIRAID intake, passes through the GMS mass-air sensor, and reaches the combustion chambers, courtesy of an 81mm BBK throttle body. Exhaust gas exits the huge hauler with help from a Borla Cat-Back system, while tuning chores are handled by a Hypertech Power Programmer. Now the Tahoe was turning the 17-inch wheels and 37-inch Super Swampers with ease, but they just didn't look big enough. Searching out the perfect wheel and tire combo, Carson quickly placed an order for Lexani's 20-inch V.P. off-road wheels, complete with a set of 39.5-inch Interco TrXus tires. Now, the Tahoe was airborne and looking great, although for some reason, Carson didn't think so.
Switching gears to the exterior, Carson, with the help of his buddy Randy Alvarez, added a '99 Escalade front clip and began the sheetmetal's transformation. Next up, a DJM flame grille was added, along with APC clear corners, Euro tails, a wiper cowl, Kodiac Sidewinder steps, and Street Scene mirrors. To complement all of those products, the Tahoe needed some paint, and close friend Jared Chockup of Iron Cross Auto Body, in San Luis Obispo, had the perfect remedy for the Tahoe. On went several coats of Chevy green paint with silver traditional flames. Never content with the Tahoe's appearance, Carson still wanted more.
Inside the Tahoe's cabin was the final place for revitalization. Calling on the talent of friend Aaron Elliott, Carson requested an audio/video system worthy of the pages of Truckin's SUV. Aaron obliged Carson's request by installing an Alpine IVA-801C head unit, three sets of Alpine 6.5-inch components, and an Alpine DVD player. Providing the power to the three Audiobahn 12-inch flame subs are two Audiobahn 2300 amplifiers. Keeping the system powered up are two Optima Yellow Top batteries and a 200-amp Powermaster alternator. Ron Burke of Burke's Upholstery was recruited for the custom seats, which were covered in Katzkin leather. Completing the interior makeover is a set of Trenz flame pedals, a rearview mirror, a Colorado Customs flame steering wheel, and an Escalade gauge cluster.
After four great years of learning, customizing, and meeting new friends, Carson's Tahoe was finally complete. Driving to the Truckin' Vegas Nats last summer, we were amazed at the attention to detail and overall execution of the buildup. Carson will be the first to say this project could not have been completed without great friends, and in the case of this blazing Tahoe, he shows us all that leading the way can be a wonderful adventure with the right people.