Truth be told, we've possibly slacked on Trailblazer SS (TBSS) projects in the past, although it hasn't been for a lack of interest or excitement. First introduced in 2006, the Trailblazer SS is a truck worthy of the nomenclature. Stuffed with an LS2 rated with 395 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, the TBSS is a powerhouse that can comfortably haul four people, tow a lightweight race car to the track, and run around town as if it were a completely civilized SUV for Mom. Add the optional all-wheel-drive Torsen differential into the mix and you've got a daily driver/hauler that's tough to beat. With prices finally dropping into the working man's realm, all we needed was for one of our friends to pick one up so we could get our grubby little hands on it. So when Jay Healy of Vengeance Racing told us he bought a TBSS for his wife, Mandy Healy, it didn't take much more than a phone call to get us ready to follow along with the project. That said, we wanted to approach the build in a sensible way, following along with how an enthusiast would modify these trucks in the real world, which usually involves taking one step at a time and evaluating each modification's merit based on price, horsepower, appearance, and street performance. With that in mind, we first set out to make a solid game plan, one that involved addressing each of those needs in one way or another.
First and foremost, we chose to tackle the job of getting air into the LS2 and exhaust gasses out. As everyone should know by now, these modifications are almost mandatory on any GMHTP test vehicle as they always provide an excellent bang for the buck, great power increases, and an excellent base from which to build. Concerning the intake, we hooked up with Airaid to test one of the company's 5.3/6.0 Trailblazer SS cold-air intakes, which is billed as a complete bolt-on solution that works to improve air intake flow while providing consistent MAF readings and good filtering. Out back, Jay opted to go a little wild with the exhaust, ordering a killer true dual system from Stainless Works, which not only comes with a set of 1.75-inch long-tube headers, but ships complete with a 2.5-inch stainless exhaust that exits out both sides of the back bumper as opposed to the somewhat less desirable single exit, as seen on these trucks from the factory.
With the intake and exhaust chosen, we didn't even have to make another call, as Jay was on top of talking to Ron Mowen at Vengeance Racing, who was happy to supply us with a "Cam Kit Plus" for the build, which includes a custom hydraulic roller camshaft cut specifically for the heavy, daily driven truck, along with all of the accessories and supporting parts that we would need for the install. Last but not least, we teamed up with the crew over at TopSpeed Motorsports in nearby Alpharetta, Georgia, to borrow their in-ground all-wheel-drive Dynojet dynamometer and expertise. With dyno numbers in hand for each round of modifications, we also chose to go a step further for the street crowd and backed up each dyno run with a 0-60-mph street pull, which shows exactly what the additional horsepower and torque meant in the real world. Using EFI Live, we set out to make three separate runs with each modification, after which we averaged the results and compared the numbers. What we saw in the 0-60 times and dyno shouldn't really surprise anyone who is a fan of these trucks, but it was great information to know for the enthusiast on a budget or anyone trying to modify their Trailblazer SS without having to schlep it back and forth to the dyno after every modification.