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2002 Chevy Silverado 2500HD - Strong, Tall, And Loud!

A Rolling Stereo/Tug-Of-War Machine

Photography by Joe Greeves

We first discovered this '02 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Duramax diesel at a car show in Orlando, Florida. As part of the afternoon's entertainment, several 4x4 pickups stepped up to a truck tug-of-war challenge. About halfway through, Joe Cochran of Clermont, Florida, entered his Chevy pickup in the competition. The straps were attached, the starter gave the signal, and Cochran pulled the top competitor backward across the line with hardly any effort.

As each successive driver pulled up, Cochran repeated his effortless domination of the event, with competitors bouncing and skidding in a futile attempt to avoid being dragged backward into the loser's circle. The last pull was with the former top competitor, a crowd favorite who was eager to prove he was driving the stronger rig. Unfortunately, the 6.6L Duramax in Cochran's truck-along with the Dana 60 axle up front and the AAM 1150 in the rear-proved way too much for the competition. The sickening crunch of the opponent's driveline as it shattered on the floor told the crowd there was a new sheriff in town. The event showed that Cochran's truck was more than just another pretty face, and we would soon find there were even more surprises in store as we got a closer look at this awesome machine.

Cochran created the truck in 2005 as part hobby, part his own birthday gift, and part rolling calling card for his business, Xtensive Autoworx. He has been involved in motorsports almost half his life, getting his first four-wheel-drive, S-10, extended-cab pickup at age 15. His shop does a little bit of everything, but he specializes in the things that most other shops consider too difficult-like chassis fabrication, rollcages, modifying frames, radical stereo installations, and more. It was natural for him to create his own personal performance vehicle because there's no better way to demonstrate the capabilities of his shop.

Cochran chose the Chevrolet because of the body style, the plush interior compared with other makes, and the overall reliability of the brand. One of the major changes was to replace the independent front suspension with a solid axle while ensuring that the conversion was as factory-like as possible. He created his own solid-axle conversion by using a combination of shackle hangers, springs, and parts from Off Road Unlimited. He built his own brackets and spring plates, giving each his own spin. The four custom-fabricated shock hoops are neatly symmetrical, holding two Edelbrock shocks along with their remote reservoirs. The steering drag link and tie rod were built from 1 3/8-inch chromoly tubing with 3/4-inch chromoly rod end joints that are stronger, maintenance-free, and allow a steeper angle than a ball-and-socket steering joint. The front driveshaft required offsetU-joints and was built by Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts, while the extended rear aluminum shaft came from JE Reel Driveline Solutions. The factory NVG263 transfer case has a slip-yoke-eliminator kit on the front output and an indexing ring that allowed Cochran to choose a shallower driveline angle.

The front axle is a Dana 60 from a '79 Ford F-350, chosen for the driver-side front differential offset and its high-pinion architecture. All the internals were rebuilt using Dana Spicer bearings and seals with Grade 8 hardware. The axleshafts were updated with 35-spline inner and outer Yukon components. The rear axle is the factory AAM unit, fitted with Yukon 5.13 gears to match the ones in the front axle. Cochran selected Atlas Spring Company's extra-long front leaf springs(6 inches longer than the standard) for the best flex and a smoother ride.

Overall, the truck has 16 inches of lift. The wheels are 22x14-inch KMC Diesels and were the tallest, widest size available, providing the wide track and aggressive looks Cochran was after. He says the 40x15.50R22 Nitto Mud Grapplers are a little loud, but they provide a great ride and it took less than 2 ounces to balance them.

With gearing strong enough to win any pull-off, Cochran turned his attention to the 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel, equipping it with a K&N air intake, a 4-inch RBP exhaust, and a Hypertech programmer. On the dyno, the programmer added about 100 hp, with the intake and exhaust adding another 15 hp each. Power at the flywheel is claimed to be right around 500 hp, with about 400 hp at the wheels. The Allison five-speed automatic transmission was modified with a Mag-Hytech aluminum transmission pan that holds two more quarts of ATF. It helps keep the transmission cool, and the structural pan adds strength to the case. Cochran says the drivetrain is a dynamite combination, and it's no problem to spin all four of the 40-inch tires.

We told you the truck had surprises in store. The customizing process took an unusual turn for a vehicle this strong. With enough horsepower and torque to tow Gibraltar into the North Atlantic, the truck has a softer side, pampering its occupants with a plush interior and a world-class entertainment system.

Although there were several hundred vehicles at that show we mentioned in Orlando, Cochran's truck was the one that took Best Interior. Once you scale the heights (thanks to the electrically retractable running boards from AMP Research) and arrive in the cockpit, you understand why.

The first surprise is a thoroughly untrucklike interior with individual bucket seats-two up front and two in the rear-upholstered by Barbara's Bus and Coach in Clermont, Florida. Headrests were eliminated, and the stock seatbelts were removed and replaced with five-point shoulder harnesses. The stereo begins with a Clarion VRX745VD flip-face head unit that controls the system and adds the first monitor. A custom-built center console with free-flowing armrests separates driver and passenger and holds two 8-inch video monitors along with all the electrical switches for the stereo system.

With some help from Audio Performance Solutions in Clermont, Cochran created an extensive package that fills the cab with concert-hall sound. All four doors feature fiberglass enclosures that house multiple component sets. Both front doors have two Kicker 8-inch midbass drivers and two 6-inch component sets with the enclosure itself wrapped in blue suede. The rear doors follow a similar pattern, with three 6-inch component sets upholstered to match. Another pair of 6-inch component sets were mounted in the kick panels. Look over your shoulder at the separated rear buckets, and you'll find another surprise. In the opening between the seats, there are four 12-inch Kicker Solo X subs in a mirrored enclosure, giving the appearance of a wall loaded with a dozen booming subs.

A hole cut between the cab and the bed accommodates the enclosure and is backlit with neon. As unique as the cabin is, the pickup bed continues the surprises. Dropping the tailgate and raising the tonneau cover reveals a collection of eight stacked Kicker amplifiers with four 1200.1 powering the subs and the other four 400.2s energizing the front stage. Five batteries handle the electrical requirements of the system with three Stinger SP1700s located in the bed and two Optima Red Tops under the hood. Dual 240-amp alternators from HO Alternators keep everything fully charged. Even though the sub vent is almost 10 feet from the windshield where sound is measured, the booming bass in this competitive truck registers an awesome SPL number of 155 dB.

With power, suspension, and interior complete, body mods were next. The tailgate was shaved, and the handle was repositioned inside. Door handles were replaced with Escalade units, the factory grille was swapped for a billet unit, and all emblems and moldings were scrapped. The front valance that houses the running lights was painted to match, and the '02 truck uses '03 taillights for a cleaner look. The front turn signals were replaced with clear corners, and 26 police strobes were added to the truck. The factory Dark Metallic Gray is accented with 18 neon tubes at night.

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