Our Five-Day 2017 Silverado Z-71 Build

Recently, Truckin invaded the Week 2 Wicked Tech Center to find out just what can be accomplished on a custom truck in a week. For five days, Tech Center Manager Jason Scudellari, along yours truly and a whole host of other key individuals, took a bone-stock ’17 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 and transformed it into a terror on and off the road and made it pretty nice to look at, if we don’t say so ourselves.

We started under the hood by adding a Magnuson Supercharger to the already stout 6.2L powerplant. We also installed ceramic-coated smog-legal headers from Gibson Performance as well as a stainless cat-back dual exhaust system. In addition, the Silverado received an 8-inch lift from Superlift Suspension that features a complete King Shock setup, and, once the PFC Brakes were installed, we filled those wheelwells with 20-inch Mamba wheels and 37-inch Hercules tires. We then added Nitro Gears to both climb mountains and fly down the freeway. From there, we upgraded the interior with a full JL Audio sound system, while Covercraft’s Carhartt seat covers were installed to protect the factory leather during off-road excursions. Finally, we added a Roll-N-Lock bedcover and Lund steps, not to mention a few more surprises you’ll see on the final project that really set our Z71 off—so much so that it was chosen as a SEMA vehicle for the MotorTrend booth by the company’s top brass!



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  |   Our starting point was a very clean and well-equipped ’17 Chevy Silverado Z71 with a 6.2L engine, leather interior, and Bose sound system.

Building a truck in a week while shooting photography, video, and posting to social media sounds pretty daunting at first, but by having the right team around us, it made the week cruise by with hardly a hiccup. A special thanks goes to Jason and Christian from the Tech Center, Christian Hazel from 4 Wheel & Off Road magazine, the camera crew, and all the manufacturer’s representatives who came out to turn wrenches with us. Check out truckin.com for all the videos from the week as well as the final show airing on MotorTrend OnDemand.



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  |   This was the scene in the Tech Center: lots of equipment, lots of film crew, and lots of stopping to tell the camera what’s going on or chat with manufacturers about the products we’re installing.



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  |   We started with the biggest ticket item of them all—the Magnuson TVS2300 supercharger. It comes in kit form with every single component needed for the install, including extremely detailed instructions.



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  |   Knowing we had a heat exchanger to install, we pulled the front grille and lights, then got busy removing the factory intake manifold and everything around it.



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  |   Mike Sitar and Grant Terry (pictured) of Magnuson were on hand for the fun, and we learned a lot along the way. We did all the prep we could on the bench, like cutting and shrink-wrapping hoses.



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  |   The heat exchanger was installed and plumbed in a matter of minutes.



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  |   We carefully set the assembly in place and began hooking things up. We also pulled info from the computer and had the initial custom tune ready to install.



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  |   No joke—we had the truck running in exactly four hours. That’s got to be some kind of record! We skipped ahead with some of the work for Day 2, like tearing down the front end to get the front differential out for a gear swap. It was ready and waiting for Tuesday morning.



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  |   Carl Montoya of Nitro Gear & Axle had about half a day to spend with us, so we put him to work, tearing down the front axle for new gears.



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  |   We had (almost) everything Carl needed to knock out the regear of the front diff while it was out for the lift.



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  |   For the rear axle, we did a full rebuild with a limited-slip (posi), 4.10:1 gears, and every single other item needed for the build.



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  |   After gutting the rear housing of all its stock parts, we began building up the new setup, like bolting up the ring gear with the new hardware.



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  |   We made quick work of getting the new pinion and bearings in and got the shims right the very first time. We had a nice painted pattern on the ring gear and perfect backlash, so we buttoned things up and moved on to the next project.



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  |   The Superlift kit will lift the truck 8 inches with a drop-down subframe and custom spindles. The cool thing is Superlift offers a King Coilover upgrade for its late-model Silverado kits, so we jumped on that!



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  |   The front suspension was stripped off so we could regear the front diff. When we returned to the truck, the Superlift subframe was installed and the lower control arms were already bolted up. So we reinstalled the front diff and forged ahead.



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  |   Soon, the King shocks, Superlift spindles, factory hubs, and axles were all bolted up and looking awesome.



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  |   Our Wednesday began with PFC Brakes, which has a long history in racing. Its expertise shows even with stock replacement parts, like the pads and rotors we’re using on the Z71.



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  |   As expected, the new brakes were mounted in a matter of minutes.



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  |   KC HiLites sent us this ultra-high-tech PRO-6 Rack system, along with lights to fill our soon-to-be-installed bumpers. The KC rack has six 6-inch round LEDs up front with five work lights built in to the sides and rear.



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  |   We assembled the framework on the ground, set it on the roof, marked out holes that we drilled for nutserts, and bolted the rack down.



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  |   Our buddy Scott Cover came to the rescue with wiring up our plethora of KC LEDs. We ran the six front lights off of one circuit and the side and rear work lights off of another.



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  |   These killer Fab Fours front and rear bumpers showed up just in time for us to install. They bolted up easily and looked great in black textured powdercoat. Then Jason bolted up the 20-inch C-Series LED lightbar in the center and 4-inch round LZR LEDs on each end.



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  |   Day 4 was a long one! We started with Shawn Gibson of Gibson Performance Exhaust, where we decided on the ceramic-coated stainless headers for our 6.2L, followed by the company’s stainless MWA muffler and dual stainless outlets with black tips.



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  |   With all hands on deck, we had the stock exhaust out in about five minutes. Then we started with setting the muffler perfectly in place.



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  |   Then we slipped in the tailpipes, followed by the sweet powdercoated Gibson tips. Shawn got all the pipes situated perfectly before we snugged everything down.



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  |   After another 15 minutes, the stock exhaust manifolds were out, and we compared them with the Gibson units before we bolted them in. We did a complete exhaust system, complete with lessons and commentary from Shawn, in about an hour!



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  |   Next was the task of installing a JL Audio sound system behind the already-stellar Bose head unit the Z71 came with. Besides the tried-and-true Stealth Box containing two shallow-mount 10TW3 subs, we installed an RD900/5 amp, C1 component and coaxial speakers, and the FIX OE integration unit.



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  |   With the door panels off, we used a little Dynamat we had lying around and prepped each door for the new JL Audio speakers.



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  |   It took a lot of fab and wiring to get to this point. Bryatt Fischer and Rob Haynes of JL Audio tore out the seat and cleared an area for a piece of MDF surrounded by Dynamat as a home base for the amp and FIX module. From here, a whole bunch of running wire took place.



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  |   Finally, we powered things up and all we had to do was set the Stealth Box in place.



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  |   At the same time, Scott Cover of AAC, creators of this killer Trigger Six Shooter, was busy making sure all our KC lights were going to light up. The Six Shooter controls accessories remotely, so once you mount the unit near the battery, you only need to run wires here, and not into the cab for switches. Then a remote unit made just for Silverados mounts below the factory accessory switches in the center console.



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  |   By late Thursday night, the truck was throwing bass and lighting up the shop.



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  |   We began Friday morning by installing an RBP midnight mesh grille with a couple more LEDs. The beauty was we only had to plug them into the Trigger Six Shooter and we were done!



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  |   Roll-N-Lock provided this E-Series electric truck bedcover. Like the name implies, it opens and retracts automatically by remote. Scott Handley from Roll-N-Lock gave us a hand installing the killer tonneau.



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  |   All the components are made of hard-powdercoated aluminum, which looks good and secures your valuables. It also has a built-in LED light, an emergency release if your battery happens to die or your friends lock you in your bed, and there’s even a sensor to keep the cover from closing on your leg. The side rails and wiring were installed, then the front cover. Soon we were testing the leg thing on each other!



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  |   Lund provided its textured black powdercoated side steps, which bolted right where the stock ones used to in about 10 minutes.



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  |   Since this Silverado is really going to be used out in the wild, we picked up some Carhartt seat covers in gray from Covercraft. This is the same triple-stitched duck-weave fabric as your pants and jackets and will do its job protecting the leather and look pretty cool, too.



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  |   We love the look of the 20-inch Mamba M19 wheels in Bronze—it works perfectly with the truck’s all-black body. The 37×13.50R20 Hercules Terra Trac M/T tires were also a perfect match. They have an aggressive tread pattern and even a cool camo pattern on the sidewall, yet they remain quiet enough for everyday driving.



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  |   Of course, at the last minute we (I) decided to debadge the doors and tailgate with the fishing line and adhesive remover attachment trick. We also ordered up black door handles to replace the chrome ones. We did leave the Z71 decal, though.



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  |   We made a quick run to New Century Tire in Westminster, California, for a professional alignment, which was knocked out in minutes. We had dyno numbers to get and burnouts to do!



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  |   This was actually the following week, but we headed up to Magnuson HQ in Ventura, California, for fine tuning and final dyno numbers. After minimal tweaking, we made 525 rwhp. Mike and Terry were sure they would break the 500hp mark, but the Gibson products pushed us well beyond that goal. It was a good day!



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  |   After five action-packed days, we had a pretty stellar custom truck with all the bells and whistles: a big lift with big shocks, big wheels and big tires, big horsepower, big bass, the power to light up the sky, and added storage, protection, and security—not to mention a whole lot of style!



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  |   When you take on a project like this, this final little reward is what you’re waiting for all week. And this crew and this truck didn’t let us down. The only thing that slowed us down was the HR lady looking out the window! Check out all the videos from the week at truckin.com and look for the full-length episode on MTOD!

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