WHAT DRIVES YOU? SUPREMIS

4WDrive - - Contents - WORDS AND PHO­TOS BY STEVE ROCK

SUPREMIS, taken from the late 15th cen­tury Latin word Supre­mus mean­ing ‘the high­est’ or ‘that which is above’ is a be­fit­ting name for the all-busi­ness-beast that is Dean Brown’s 2015 Chevy Colorado doit-all day-tripper.

The Colorado heritage can be traced back to the hastily re-badged Isuzu light util­ity ve­hi­cles of the 1970’s. These were im­ported as a di­rect chal­lenge to the new and ex­tremely pop­u­lar com­pact pick-up trucks from Dat­sun and Toy­ota that caught the North Amer­i­can auto man­u­fac­tur­ers com­pletely off guard.

GM’s re­place­ment for the Isuzu, launched in 1982, was the S10. Brown owned a first gen­er­a­tion 1984 rear wheel drive S10 Blazer, and even though he reg­u­larly got the tires dirty, it was never go­ing to be the off-road ma­chine that he

re­ally wanted.

Trucks came and went over the next twenty five years, but one con­stant was Brown’s ca­reer in the print­ing in­dus­try run­ning a Mot­ter press. These be­he­moths re­quired years of train­ing and even more years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore you’d be run­ning one on your own, as com­pa­nies couldn’t af­ford to com­pro­mise high vol­ume print runs by leav­ing an in­com­pe­tent op­er­a­tive in charge. The job had to be done right, and done right the first time.

The same prin­ci­ples of do­ing it right the first time were ap­plied to the SUPREMIS build, with the re­quire­ment that it be a ca­pa­ble and com­fort­able daily driver with plenty of off-road po­ten­tial. But, and this was a very im­por­tant ‘but’, it had to be dif­fer­ent from all the other rigs on the trail; en­ter the Chevy.

Brown’s lo­cal GM dealer, who has been just as en­thu­si­as­tic about the SUPREMIS build as Brown, sup­plied the Z71 FL Short Box truck new in 2015 and Brown spent the fol­low­ing six months eval­u­at­ing its ca­pa­bil­i­ties on and of­froad, as well as thor­oughly re­search­ing pos­si­ble mod­i­fi­ca­tions on­line be­fore com­pil­ing a wish-list and part­ing with his cash.

The choice of pow­er­train wasn’t an is­sue, with proven ca­pa­bil­ity com­ing from GM’s 3.6L V6, pro­duc­ing 305 hp at 6,800 rpm, and more im­por­tantly, a Cana­dian Shield con­quer­ing 269 ft/lb of torque at 4,000rpm. There’s also a trans­mis­sion cooler to keep tem­per­a­tures in check when the truck is tow­ing or be­ing worked hard of­froad, and the auto-lock­ing rear-diff and lim­ited-slip front-diff play a big part in help­ing keep SUPREMIS mov­ing for­ward when the ter­rain gets chal­leng­ing. Brown says that there are two tech­no­log­i­cal aids to ve­hi­cle con­trol that he re­ally likes; the hill-start-as­sist and hill-de­scent con­trol which help when ne­go­ti­at­ing grades, keep­ing ev­ery­one on board that lit­tle bit safer, and mak­ing the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle more pre­dictable.

Rid­ing on 33" Toyo Open Coun­try Ex­treme tires, mounted on 20" FUEL rims, the Chevy’s full off-road po­ten­tial was re­al­ized by in­stalling a 5.5" BDS Chevy lift with front ad­justable ex­ter­nal reser­voirs, which is one se­ri­ous piece of kit. If it breaks, the man­u­fac­turer wants it re­turned to in­ves­ti­gate the fail­ure so that they can im­prove on the de­sign. After a full sea­son of trav­el­ling back roads and trails, it has per­formed flaw­lessly.

SUPREMIS is fit­ted with NFAB rock slid­ers and a FAB4 hid­den winch bumper that should pro­tect the beast

in the event that Brown makes an er­ror in judge­ment on the trail, and Mother Na­ture bites back. No wor­ries if she does, as there’s an ex­tremely ca­pa­ble Warn 10000lb cordless re­mote winch mounted up front, and the Gull­wing tool­box that’s fit­ted to the Back Rack con­tains the usual ar­ray of jacks, shov­els, straps, and shack­les that any re­spon­si­ble and self-re­spect­ing off-roader should carry with them when out on the trail.

Com­fort comes courtesy of GM’s well-ap­pointed and roomy crew cab that has an ex­tra, and rather neat over­head panel - an­other in­stal­la­tion by his lo­cal dealer - to con­trol the ‘day­light solutions pack­age’. Built for day trip­ping, Brown wanted to en­sure that he could make the most of his time on the trail by in­stalling one 20" curved, two 30" straight light bars, and eight rock lights. He’s now able to turn night into day at the flick of a switch. Well, sev­eral switches ac­tu­ally.

The truck also has a re­ally neat crest­ing-so­lu­tion. The Go-Pro that’s

mounted on the FAB4 bumper is hooked up to Brown’s smart phone in the cab so that he has a real-time view of the trail ahead to make ne­go­ti­at­ing blind crests eas­ier and so much safer.

An­other cool fea­ture is the two-way air sys­tem, and although the com­pres­sor has yet to find a per­ma­nent home, the sys­tem makes short work of air­ing-up and air­ing-down. Air­lines have been routed from a cen­tral point to each wheel well, where there’s a Schrader valve that is used to con­nect aux­il­iary air lines to each of the four tires. Once the com­pres­sor is hooked up, it’s just a mat­ter of hit­ting the switch and keep­ing an eye on the tool­box mounted gauge un­til the de­sired pres­sure is reached.

To en­sure that there’s enough juice on tap to power all the elec­tri­cal ac­ces­sories, Brown in­stalled a sec­ond bat­tery and a dig­i­tal bat­tery iso­la­tor that shuts ev­ery­thing down when power lev­els are crit­i­cally low, leav­ing just enough to get the truck started. Due to the lim­ited space un­der the Colorado’s hood, a marine grade bat­tery was spec­i­fied as they can be safely mounted on their side without fear of leak­ing acid all over the en­gine bay.

Some form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment is on the to-do list and Brown has it nar­rowed down to ei­ther a HAM set-up or a CB; both of which will be much bet­ter than his cur­rent cell-phone-or-yell sys­tem. Full un­der­body ar­mour is an­other want but sourc­ing af­ter­mar­ket parts for such a new model isn’t an easy task and the only other op­tion, cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion, doesn’t come cheap.

It’s taken about a year of hard work to get the truck to where it is to­day and like most builds, it’s not over yet. The Mot­ter press was renowned for its longevity, and there’s a host of items that Brown wants spray-coated to im­prove not only their looks, but also their dura­bil­ity - although I se­ri­ously doubt that they’ll last as long as the presses did. The fi­nal mod­i­fi­ca­tion (don’t hold your breath though) will be man­ual sway-bar dis­con­nects, which in Brown's words, “Will make her a true SUPREMIS!”

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