Car Feature: Colorado ZR1

LS9Colorado-1

photos by: Rick Seitz

Scott Hamlin Takes this Left-for-Dead Colorado Work Truck, and Creates Something Truly Unique

Chances are, if you’re in your mid-30s or older, the concept of modifying a smaller-sized truck is hardly news to you. Back in the 1990s, high-performance and customized “mini-trucks” trucks were some of the most popular vehicles on the scene. They just made sense to people — they’re small, easy to work on, respond to mods very well, and are surprisingly good drag vehicles. As we moved towards the new millennium, the truck movement was on its way out; being replaced almost exclusively by the big truck/big lift kit fad.

Over the last few years, however, we’ve been seeing a resurgence of the muscle truck movement, particularly with the popularity of LS-swapped variety. The lowered, pro-touring truck seems to be making a major comeback. Much like some of the GM muscle cars and sports cars, there’s a lot of things that attract gearheads to the GM trucks for power. We first saw it with the S10, and we’re starting to see it again with the first-generation Chevy Colorados.

The first-generation of the Colorado had an underrated and abbreviated run. What could have been a hit with the small truck (it’s not quite a mini-truck) builders didn’t seem to catch on, at first. Even though there are a lot of elements that make the first-generation Colorado a good candidate for a high performing track star, most people didn’t want to put in the time and money to get it there. Scott Hamlin is amongst a group of people who are now seeing the truck’s capacity to become more.

We spotted Scott at LS Fest in 2015 and knew we needed to check out his truck.

When we spotted Scott at LS Fest in 2015 and knew we needed to check out his truck.

We met up with Scott at Holley LS Fest in 2015, and couldn’t believe that the striking blue truck that was dominating the track had once been a beat-up work truck. You may recognize the truck from our 2015 LS Fest coverage, and you can see that here in case you’ve missed it.

What we learned from Scott is that when someone sees the potential in a vehicle, and picks up where the manufacturer (and previous owner) left off, magical things can happen. When Scott bought his Chevy Colorado, it had a long way to go before it was the truck of his dreams, but what it has turned into is far from its work truck days.

Scott had a vision that needed to be realized for his 2004 Chevy Colorado. Purchased in 2012, the truck was destined to be a lot more than a work truck, he had plans to make it a certified street beast. Scott wasted no time transforming his Colorado into a true savage. If you’re looking for inspiration to build your truck into a muscle truck, this is certainly a good project to reference!

“The truck is now very firm, yet forgiving.” -Scott Hamlin

You see, Scott is no stranger to working on trucks. He has previously owned a Kenne-Bell supercharged 2008 Colorado SS concept that he built himself. It hasn’t all been Colorados along the way, he’s even had a Geo Tracker with a Magnuson supercharged LS1. This is in addition to numerous S10s with LS swaps he’s cycled through over the years.

This single-cab truck already has the lighter weight body to make it a more than a suitable base for the project. Since he bought it off Craigslist for $800 with no engine, the possibilities were endless for the build. There were, however, plenty of things that needed to be addressed to turn it from beater work truck to track worthy muscle truck. Keeping with the tradition of LS swapping his trucks, that’s the direction it moved in, but a lot of work had to happen first.

LS9COLORADO-8

It rolls on ZR1 wheels to complete the ZR1 look.

The situation got serious pretty quickly with the Colorado, a frame-off build would begin, and pretty much anything that could be replaced, was. All of the upper and lower ball joints were replaced, and all of the bushings were upgraded to urethane, which makes a huge difference in handling, especially if your vehicle has some mileage, or hard times on it (which this truck clearly had).

Evan Seals of Fayetteville, TN is responsible for the body work on the truck. He went on to give it new glass and seals throughout. It got new fenders, new doors on both sides, a new bed, and new tailgate. The only body piece left of the original truck is the cab itself!  To make room for the ZR1 mufflers, the spare tire even had to come off.

Upgrades on the body include 4×4 Colorado fender flares, Street Scene Mirrors, and a custom roll pan. A nice addition is a 1-of-1 custom bed cover made by Gaylord’s Truck Tops. The whole body was then coated in a stunning Jet Stream Blue paint job.

LS9COLORADO-9

Once the body was stripped and made over, that’s when the fun got started! A 370 cubic-inch engine was picked up for the project. The engine was built by Thompson Motorsports with a Brian Tooley Stage 3 blower cam, Diamond pistons with H-beam connecting rods, and LS3 heads with a Brian Tooley Platinum spring kit. It also has a Lingenfelter balancer and Concept One LS9 A/C compressor kit.

To top off the engine build, a LS9 blower with Lingenfelter 2.6 drive pulley was added to give this Colorado some serious power! The build gives this lightweight truck 582 horsepower and 554 lbs.-ft. of torque. The powerful engine is backed by a Tremec Magnum T-56 with Quicktime bellhousing, Monster twin-disc clutch and flexplate, and an American Powertrain Lightening Shifter. The powertrain/drivetrain feeds into an 8.5-inch GM rearend out of a 4×4 ZR2 S10.

“A Mustang GT500 shift boot, a shift knob from a 2005 GTO were used for a nice touch to the shifter.” -Scott Hamlin

While it was under intense construction, the interior was completely redone as well. All of the panels were removed from a 2012 ZR1 Colorado and transitioned into this build. There are also elements which were modified from a Ford Escape, and SpeedHut gauges. The interior went from being nothing notable, to being very eye-catching, something you don’t see in a lot of trucks; even many highly modified muscle trucks can be pretty plain on the inside.

The team wasn’t done there, the truck would then be dropped 3-inches — DJM Suspension springs were used in the front, while Belltech springs lower the rear. Belltech shocks are used on all four corners, and the front and rear swaybars also come from Belltech. They decided to use CalTracs subframe connectors. Wilwood 6-piston calipers and drilled rotors give the truck some serious stopping power.

Scott wanted to thank Evan Seals for the paint and body work, Ricky Childers from RCI Performance, The Car Shoppe, Current Performance Wiring, Byrd’s Automotive, and the Fayetteville Police Department as well as the Tennessee Highway Patrol (we’re not touching that one!).

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TECH SHEET:

  • CAR: 2004 Chevy Colorado
  • OWNER: Scott Hamlin
  • ENGINE BLOCK: 370 Cu. In.
  • CRANKSHAFT: Stock
  • PISTONS: Diamond
  • CAMSHAFT: Brian Tooley Stage 3 Blower Cam
  • CYLINDER HEADS: Stock LS3 Heads with Brian Tooley Platinum Springs
  • COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.70:1
  • INDUCTION: LS9 Throttle Body, LS9 MAF, LS9 Intake Manifold
  • POWER ADDER: LS9 2.9 Lingenfelter Supercharger
  • WASTEGATE: Precision 66m, w/twin Tial 50mm blow-off valves
  • BOOST: 13-lbs.
  • EXHAUST: Stock LS9 Manifolds, 3” X-Pipe, ZR1 Mufflers
  • FUEL DELIVERY: Aeromotive 320 LPH Fuel Pump, Adjustable Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
  • OILING: Ported LS6 Oil Pump, LS2 C5 Oil Pan
  • TUNING: By RCI Performance
  • TRANSMISSION: Tremec Magnum T-56
  •  CLUTCH: Monster Twin-Disc
  • SHIFTER: American Powertrain Lightening Shifter
  • REAREND: 8.5” GM Rearend with Ultimate-10 Differential Cover
  • SUSPENSION: Belltech Coilovers, sway bar, 3-inch drop (front), Belltech Shocks, 3-inch lowering springs and sway bar (rear)
  • CHASSIS MODIFICATIONS: Cal-Trac Subframe Connections
  • BRAKES: 6-Piston Wilwood with Drilled Rotors
  • WHEELS: GM ZR1 19×10” (front), GM ZR1 20×12” (rear)
  • TIRES: 285/30/19 (front), 345/25/20 (rear)
  • HP/TQ.: 582/554
  • BEST 1/4-MILE ET: Unknown

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  1. GM EFI Magazine 23 August, 2016 at 19:47 Reply

    […] What many casual onlookers dismissed as a “ZR1 Blue” Colorado with complimentary ZR1 rollers, we had a feeling it was much more. In turned out, we were correct. Packing a 370 cubic-inch LS with a blower borrowed from an LS9-powered Corvette ZR1, this Colorado immediately struck our heart strings. We ran a full feature on it several months ago, and you can read all about it here. […]

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