OVER­CAST

With a Chance of Badass

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT BY MIKE SELF PHO­TOS BY KEVIN AGUILAR

“WHAT IF” IS A POW­ER­FUL CON­CEPT. What if car­riages had en­gines? What if we could travel to the moon? What if phones could also be ro­bust com­put­ers? In­deed, “what if” can carry vary­ing mag­ni­tudes of im­por­tance, and those who dare ask it are of­ten re­warded with great­ness.

Take Rich Tillema, for ex­am­ple. One of his lat­est “what if” pon­der­ings was, “What if GM had built a Blazer based on the 1960-66 body style trucks?” Sure, we all know about the Car­ryall, and we agree that it could be a close sub­sti­tute, but the pro­por­tions are all wrong for a true Blazer. Still, Rich was de­ter­mined to see his $500 tow-yard project through. In­deed, it would take a lot of work to get things right and earn its re­badg­ing.

Sic Chops in Lake Havasu City, Ari­zona, han­dled the build from day one, with in­struc­tions that

RON MANGUS’ NAME IS THE STUFF OF LEG­END, AND TO HAVE HIM DO THE IN­TE­RIOR OF YOUR TRUCK IS A SORT OF BLESS­ING. IF RON TOUCHES YOUR RIDE, YOU’VE PASSED THE COOLNESS TEST.”

Rich wanted an up­dated ver­sion of what a Car­ryall-era Blazer might look like. As you can imag­ine, this would be no small feat, but a shop like Sic Chops was eas­ily qual­i­fied to take the task in hand.

We’re not sure of the ex­act or­der in which the mods took place, but we’d like to imag­ine that the Sic Chops wizards just waved their wands and made things hap­pen. Af­ter all, short­en­ing the body 22 inches, chop­ping the top 2.5 inches with an ad­di­tional 1-inch pan­cake, build­ing a new hood open­ing and rear dif­fuser, and flar­ing the lower body line all around the truck’s perime­ter just seem too daunt­ing for mere muggl… er, mor­tals— al­most caught us geek­ing out.

Scott Laiti­nen at Sic Chops sprayed the color once the body was ready. Newer fac­tory GM Over­cast Grey Metal­lic took over most of the sheet metal, with Sum­mit White adding the per­fect con­trast. Then there’s the flush-fit glass all around

the truck. No vis­i­ble gas­kets here, all of the cus­tom glass was glued into place, just like a mod­ern truck. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this mod, but it is among the most finely ex­e­cuted we’ve come across, and it re­ally ac­cen­tu­ates the con­tem­po­rary in­flu­ence of Rich’s Blazer.

At this point, there was ab­so­lutely no chance of the stock chas­sis stay­ing un­der­neath the truck, and Scott al­ready had a plan in mo­tion. A fresh Road­ster Shop chas­sis was al­ready on its way, with a trick cus­tom can­tilever setup and 14-inch Baer brakes in front of C6 Corvette spin­dles and a Strange 9-inch rearend.

Slam Spe­cial­ties airbags at all four cor­ners with Ride­tech shocks pro­vide a com­fort­able yet per­for­mance-minded ride.

The wheels are works of art in and of them­selves: one-off Colorado Cus­tom three-piece bil­let wheels of the 22x12 and 24x15 va­ri­eties se­cure a set of stag­gered Pirelli P-zero tires, giv­ing Rich’s Blazer plenty of trac­tion. As it turned out, it would des­per­ately need it.

Rich wanted power—lots of it—so he de­cided on a Cadil­lac CTS-V

LSA su­per­charged engine, which is good for 556 hp right out of the box. Not bad by any­one’s mea­sure to be sure, but even that wasn’t enough. Leg­endary engine builder Don Hardy worked his magic on the LSA, and af­ter lots of ma­chin­ing and tweak­ing, Rich’s engine was now putting out 840 horses at 24 pounds of boost. So no, the 405mm-wide rear Pirellis aren’t re­ally overkill.

All of this power is trans­ferred to the rear wheels by a cus­tom Phoenix 4L80E trans­mis­sion, which was built with the Blazer’s bliss­fully ex­ces­sive power in mind.

A Pre­ci­sion Per­for­mance shifter was then test-fit in prepa­ra­tion for the cus­tom in­te­rior.

Ron Mangus’ name is the stuff of leg­end, and to have him do the in­te­rior of your truck is a sort of bless­ing. If Ron touches your ride, you’ve passed the coolness test.

Ron trimmed the whole in­te­rior with yard upon yard of lux­u­ri­ous Ger­man ma­te­rial, with some good old ’62 Chevy truck pat­terns thrown in for good mea­sure. Glide En­gi­neer­ing seat frames were used as a base for the cus­tom seat­ing, and GM rocker switches were used for var­i­ous func­tions through­out the Blazer. Up front and cen­ter (to Rich, any­way) are a cus­tom ’62 Pon­tiac steer­ing wheel and one-off Dakota Dig­i­tal gauges. Ron then cov­ered the cus­tom Kicker sound sys­tem that was built by the Sic Chops crew to match the rest of the in­te­rior.

From that point, plenty of tidy­ing up was needed to get Rich’s “what if” Blazer ready for SEMA 2016, where it stole the show in Accuair’s booth. There were def­i­nitely a lot of peo­ple left scratch­ing their heads, won­der­ing what made his truck look so much dif­fer­ent from your av­er­age Car­ryall. Now you know.

SOME OF THE ROAD­STER SHOP CHAS­SIS CAN BE SEEN THROUGH THE IN­TE­RIOR, WITH THE CAN­TILEVER REAR ’BAG SETUP PROUDLY LIT BE­HIND THE ACCUAIR LOGO.

AS CLEAN AND UN­DER­STATED AS THE ENGINE COM­PART­MENT IS YOU MIGHT NOT THINK THAT IT’S AN 840-HP MON­STER. THE DON-HARDYBUILT LSA IS AN AB­SO­LUTE SU­PER­CHARGED TER­ROR.

RON MANGUS DID A BEAU­TI­FUL JOB OF TRIM­MING THE IN­TE­RIOR OF RICH’S TRUCK US­ING DOU­GLAS AIR­CRAFT LEATHER AND SOME ORIG­I­NAL GM TRUCK MA­TE­RIAL FROM 1962.

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