Much like the butterfly that caused a hurricane, Matt Fitzgerald's '01 Silverado grew from a very small and somewhat innocent encounter. "He pointed and laughed at my truck. I went into work and told my father, 'I will never get embarrassed by another Lightning like that again.'" And with that, it began. What once was a bone-stock Silverado has been transformed into a single-turbo 408-cubic-inch monster, set to burn rubber, eat Lightnings, and look good doing it.
Of course, a truck this nice doesn't get built overnight. "Without Don Kinder [owner of Slowhawk Performance] my truck would still be stock and slow. Don has been the designer, builder, and driving force of the project since the day I decided to go fast. He spent countless hours and sleepless nights working and tuning on the truck. The truck is as much Don's as it is mine." While the truck has seen several combinations, the latest setup is easily the most powerful. Starting with the heart of the beast, Matt and Don had Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center assemble a 408-cubic-inch LQ9-based motor. Inside, a Callies Compstar 4-inch crankshaft spins a set of Callies Compstar rods, which hold tight on a set of JE pistons wrapped in HellFire rings. The valvetrain rides atop a custom Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft with 236/230-degrees of duration, 0.604/0.590-inches of lift on a turbo-friendly 115-degree lobe separation angle. Oiling is done by a ported and polished GM oil pump, which pulls off a stock GM truck oil pan.
With the short-block built and ready to drop in, it was time to assemble the lungs of this Lightning killer, a custom single-turbo system. Here, Matt turned again to Don and Slowhawk Performance to build a serious street sweeper. Starting with a set of stock truck manifolds, Don fabricated a custom crossover tube, which places the turbo up high on the passenger side of the engine bay. This turbo, a BorgWarner S-85 Race unit, is capable of flowing a ton of air, but Matt and Don found that 12 psi is more than enough to "spin the 16-inch tires at 80 mph." Exhaust is sent down a huge 5-inch downpipe and exits just before the rear tire on the passenger side. Incoming air, however, passes through a four-core front-mount intercooler before passing through a Nick Williams 90mm throttle body, down an IntakeElbows.com sheetmetal elbow and into an Edelbrock "carb-style" intake manifold. A pair of ETP 225cc cylinder heads funnel the boost through a set of 2.08-inch intake valves and expel the resulting mixture out a set of 1.57-inch exhaust valves. All of this is fueled by a set of 96-lb injectors, which are pressurized by a pair of Walbro 420L fuel pumps.
DMC Racing of Halifax, Massachusetts, is responsible for getting all of this horsepower to the ground. "Dennis at DMC is the best chassis builder I have found. He chopped my truck up into pieces and molded it back into something that I really never could have dreamed." Starting with a basically stock truck, Dennis and the team at DMC first pulled the entire bed off the truck and began cutting. From a medley of cutting, welding, and fitting came a complete custom four-link rear suspension. This suspension features a pair of Strange double-adjustable shocks wrapped in matching Strange rear springs. A Strange 9-inch rear, stuffed with a set of 3.55 gears and 40-spline axles moves power outward to the massive wheel and tire combo. Out back are a set of 20x12 Billet Specialties Dyno SL wheels, covered in a pair of Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 31x16R20 tires. In order for Matt to get power from the motor to the Strange 9-inch, he turned to SRA Transmission to build a stout 4L80E. A Precision Industries 3400 triple disk bolted to a TCI flexplate transfers power into the transmission, which then sends power down a two-piece Denny's driveshaft and into the rearend.
Coming off the custom four-link rear are a set of bars, which pass through a Lexan rear window into the interior. Once inside, the cage expands to a traditional and barely noticeable 10-point setup, which has been painted black to keep the interior stealth. A custom-mounted Hurst shifter is the only thing on the floor, with a custom switch panel and Turbosmart E-Boost 2 mounted just above. A couple of A-pillar gauges (wideband air/fuel and boost) keep Matt in the loop, while an Alkycontrol methanol controller helps keep the motor happy on pump gas.
While building a somewhat excessive drivetrain was important to Matt, a subtle exterior was also a priority. Starting at the front, Matt installed a custom grille to cover the new front-mount intercooler. A GoodMark cowl hood helps draw the eye backwards, over the top of the cab and down the slick, black rollcage bars into the bed of the truck. Back here, Matt had Bill Latham shave the stake pockets, gas door, and tailgate before painting the entire truck a truly fitting color, Victory Red. The bed is also home to a custom fuel cell and DMC-built mini-tubs, which are all color-matched Victory Red. Bill then painted the entire cage and four-link rearend in gloss black, a stark and beautiful contrast to the red.
Once painted, Matt returned the truck back to Don, where the dyno tuning began. On just 12 psi, controlled by the Turbosmart E-Boost 2, Matt's truck put down 744 hp and 693 lb-ft of torque. As you can imagine, with that much power it is pretty hard to keep the street tires hooked up, which is just fine with Matt. "As far as I am concerned, no matter what kind of car or truck you are building or drive, in the end it is all about the burnout! People look at the truck like I am crazy. But then, I take them for a ride and light the tires up at 80 mph and then they know I am crazy." Next up for Matt is to run some 9-second passes at the track, drive home, and then turn up the boost. With an already impressive build and a solid focus on doing it correctly, we are sure the future is bright for this '01 Silverado.