Creating innovative new products that grab peoples’ attention is vital to keeping companies constantly “in the game” when it comes to the automotive aftermarket. It’s a risk that many a company has rolled the dice to achieve. Developing a constantly growing catalog of parts and fitments is only half the battle though. Placing those items in front of the buying population is another game all in itself. The annual SEMA show held in Las Vegas is one such venue for manufacturers to show off the latest and greatest gear being released. With the mass of media in attendance, hot new items get studied, photographed, and shuffled off to their respective market outlets.
Finding 17½ inches of front wheel travel on a four-wheel drive without modifying the frame
While attending the 2011 SEMA show, we spotted a matching pair of Chevy crew cab trucks wrapped from head to toe in the new McGaughy’s logos. On most any occasion we would expect to see the company showing off its wares, but this time we were tripped up and stopped dead in our tracks. Known mostly for its extensive line of lowering equipment, McGaughy’s was displaying a pair of lifted trucks, and one was a long-travel suspended pre-runner that was still sporting its four-wheel-drive system. After staring at it for some time, we knew we had to get a more in-depth look at things.
Steve McGaughy purchased the ’09 Silverado 1/2-ton four-wheel-drive specifically to develop a new line of suspension lift kits. Along the way he had a flash of brilliance and decided that prototyping a long-travel system as part of the new suspension series was going to be on his to do list. Up front you will still find the 7-inch drop-down brackets necessary to accommodate the front differential and axles. Where the fun starts is with fabricated upper and lower extended control arms with uniballs to allow longer wheel travel. Beefed up steering tie rods attach to fabricated knuckles with spherical bearings to survive the abuses of off-road driving. External reservoir Fox coilover shocks were fit with custom coil springs designed by McGaughy’s for proper bounce and jounce while bashing along at speed. Topping it all off, it provides 17½ inches of wheel travel and everything bolts right into the factory frame mounts without any major hassles.
It’s hard to argue with the stance of the McGaughy’s prerunner. From the oversized fibergl
After researching other manufacturers’ fabricated rear axle housings, Steve came to the conclusion that he could build a better mousetrap himself. Once the cutting and welding was completed, he found he had created a fully braced chromoly rear axle designed to accept bulletproof drop in center sections for a Ford 9-inch. Suspending his new rear axle are 6-inch-lift leaf springs from Deaver damped by Fox Racing shocks mounted to a one-off bed cage. Total rear travel cycles out at an amazing twenty bump-swallowing inches. Toyo 37x13.50R18 tires are fit all around with 18x9-inch Method matte black Standard wheels hiding the 13-inch cross-drilled brake rotors at each corner. To turn all that rubber, 4.88 gears were installed at both ends.
Under the hood, the 2.9L Whipple supercharger and aFe cool-air intake give little away about what anger really lurks there. Once the engine is fired up, the story changes dramatically. Where a 5.3L once resided, you will now find a heavily modified 6.0L built by Steve Taylor. The mill was punched out to 383 ci and stuffed with top-quality forged rotating internals and a complete valvetrain from Comp Cams with a secret cam profile. Topping the engine are fully ported and polished L92 Cylinder heads exhaling into Pacesetter long-tube headers and a custom exhaust. Power output is an incredible 715 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque, all transferred through a beefed-up 4L80E from Jim’s Transmissions.
Body modifications were kept to a minimum, but the change was dramatic and set the tone for the whole truck. Prerunners take their cues from actual desert race trucks and this Silverado has it nailed down with oversized fenders and bedsides from Glassworks Unlimited. The front fenders are bulged 4 inches and cut 2 inches higher, while the bedsides have the same higher cut with a tad more bulge at 4½ inches. Steve had Bad Habit Customs bend him up a one-off tubular front bumper with an integrated skidplate to replace the ungainly factory piece. For the rear, Bad Habit developed a cool flush-mounted bumper with a racy look imparted by the stamped holes. Rounding out the body modifications is a black X-Metal grille from T-Rex and a complementing vinyl wrap that gives Steve’s truck its attention-grabbing appearance. After watching Steve lay down a number of heavy-footed blasts down a dirt road, we can honestly say we want one of these in our own garage!
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 2009 Chevy Silverado
Owner And City/State: Steve McGaughy • Fresno, California
Looks can be deceiving. Hidden under that 2.9L Whipple blower is a fire-breathing 383ci en
Type: 383ci LS
Heads: Ported and polished L92
Cam: Comp Cams secret grind
Induction: Whipple 2.9L supercharger
Exhaust: Pacesetter long-tube headers, custom dual stainless
Fuel System: 60-pound GM injectors
Engine Management: Custom tune in factory ECM
Output: 715 hp and 660 lb-ft
Built by: Steve Taylor
Front suspension: McGaughy’s fabricated control arms, knuckles, and steering. Fox Racing coilovers
Rear suspension: McGaughy’s fabricated 9-inch axle with Deaver leaf springs. Fox Racing shocks
Brakes: 13-inch cross-drilled rotors
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 18x9-inch Method Racing matte black Standard
Tires: Toyo 37x13.50R18 Toyo Open Country M/T