S-10 ZR2 HD


Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Jeremy Cur­tis Op­ti­mized His Chevy Dream Truck into His Ul­ti­mate Diesel Ma­chine

Many gear heads grow up with posters of their fa­vorite ve­hi­cles on their wall. Once we come across that per­fect ma­chine, we never re­ally get it out of our head. Jeremy Cur­tis of Rock­vale, Ten­nessee, fell in love with the Chevro­let S-10 ZR2 as soon as it was re­leased and by 2007 was fi­nally able to buy his per­fect truck. But that dream ride isn't al­ways as per­fect as we hope, and as Cur­tis be­gan to plan a fam­ily with his wife, Lacey, he re­al­ized the reg­u­lar cab S-10 he'd used as a work truck for years wasn't quite suited for fam­ily life. But in­stead of giv­ing up on the truck, Cur­tis de­cided to over­haul the Chevy and op­ti­mize it to ac­com­mo­date his grow­ing fam­ily and give him more joy in the woods off-road­ing or tow­ing nearly any­thing on the street.

Cur­tis, a ser­vice tech­ni­cian and welder by trade, was ready to take on the ma­jor cus­tomiza­tion with some help from friends and fam­ily. Once he found a crew cab off a truck that had been to­taled, he be­gan tackling the stretch­ing and strength­en­ing of the frame to fit his four-door life­style. Prac­tic­ing his metal work­ing skills, Cur­tis was able to sep­a­rate and graft to­gether a longer chas­sis al­most seam­lessly while also adding cross brac­ing for added strength. Once the frame was shaped, he had it pow­der coated black for a slick-look­ing un­der­car­riage and to pro­tect the metal.

By the end of his build, the mod­i­fied S-10 chas­sis would be equipped with a ‘79 Dana 60 rearend with Detroit Locker and a ‘79 Dana 44 front end with a Lunch­box Locker. To beef up the sus­pen­sion for some off-road­ing, tow­ing, and to han­dle its fu­ture diesel power plant, Cur­tis in­stalled rear springs from a 1979 Ford F-250 paired with Ran­cho shocks and a set of 1993 front springs from a Ford F-350 2WD truck paired again with Ran­cho shocks. Cur­tis fab­ri­cated his own cus­tom radius arms us­ing Bal­lis­tic joints, as well as a cus­tom sway bar to tighten up the now lifted and heav­ier pro­por­tions of his S-10 ZR2. To help his off-road as­pi­ra­tions, Cur­tis equipped his sway bar with quick dis­con­nect link­age for com­fort­able on-road driv­ing, and open ar­tic­u­la­tion for the trails. He also out­fit­ted his truck with a goose­neck hitch mount, but with in­creas­ing his tow­ing ca­pac­ity

and adding sub­stan­tial heft to the Chevy, Cur­tis knew he needed to up­grade his brakes. He con­verted the rear with a 1-ton disk brake conversion us­ing 3-inch sin­gle pis­ton calipers and up front he swapped in 2.5-inch twin pis­ton brake calipers. Bolted onto those hubs are re-cen­tered Hum­mer H1 16.5-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear 37x12.50-16.5 Wran­gler MT tires.

The ex­ten­sive ad­di­tion of the 2003 S-10 crew cab was not the only mod­i­fi­ca­tion Cur­tis tack­led on the body of his op­ti­mized ul­ti­mate truck. He also added a cowl in­duc­tion hood that adds ag­gres­sion, as well as ex­tra room for its new diesel mo­tor. The former work truck’s bed and rocker pan­els were sprayed with bed liner for rugged dura­bil­ity. Again, show­cas­ing his fab­ri­ca­tion skills, Cur­tis built his own front and rear brush guard tube bumpers and rock slider side steps and pow­der coated them black. Stick­ing with the black on black theme, Dale Tay­lor of Tay­lor’s Col­ors out of Ea­gleville, Ten­nessee, helped paint the body Pure Black. In­side the new cab, Cur­tis kept it sim­ple with stock black cloth in­te­rior. A cus­tom made wiring har­ness and a cus­tom gauge clus­ter to house Au­tome­ter gauges were a few of Cur­tis’ cus­tom touches.

After Cur­tis stretched the truck he be­gan to re­al­ize that it was go­ing to need more power. He poured through re­search into swaps and he re­al­ized he didn’t want to go a more tra­di­tional route of a small block Chevy or LS crate mo­tor. As he thought about his tow­ing needs, the diesel en­gine started sound­ing right. He fi­nally set­tled on a 3.9-liter 4BT Cum­mins en­gine for the new heart of his mod­i­fied S-10. Still, with a rel­a­tively light truck, Cur­tis didn’t need to go crazy with build­ing the en­gine, but, of course, some bolt-ons were nec­es­sary. A cus­tom pump and fil­tra­tion sys­tem with a built VE in­jec­tion pump moves fuel into the 7x.14 in­jec­tors. Build­ing boost is com­pound 48/61 tur­bocharg­ers and a Su­per Duty in­ter­cooler. A stain­less steel 4-inch ex­haust sys­tem was in­stalled to ex­pel the spent gasses out the back of the truck in the fac­tory lo­ca­tion. With the up­grades the four cylin­der Cum­mins de­liv­ered 286 horse­power and 618 lbs-ft of torque to the mas­sive wheels and tires on the chas­sis dyno. A Dodge NV4500 trans­mis­sion with a South­bend sin­gle disk HD clutch and

Start­ing out life as an S-10 ZR2 stan­dard cab truck, Jeremy Cur­tis worked hard for a year to trans­form it into a diesel crew cab suited for his ac­tive life on and off road.

With skill and pre­ci­sion, Cur­tis chopped and ex­tended the frame al­most seam­lessly while adding strength­en­ing brac­ing.

The rear has a cus­tom made bumper as well with the slick black paint and old-school logo from his fa­vorite lo­cal shop, Beans Diesel Per­for­mance where Cur­tis was once em­ployed.

On the rocker pan­els and the bed is a sprayed in liner ready to take on any load as well as the goose­neck hitch Cur­tis chose to add to the now diesel ma­chine.

This rugged ma­chine can fly through the Ten­nessee trails with ease after its ex­ten­sive over­haul.

Cur­tis’ cus­tom wheel guard shrouds the re-cen­tered Hum­mer H1 wheels with 37-inch Goodyear Wran­gler MT tires.

A cus­tom gauge clus­ter with black di­a­mond plate and Au­tome­ter gauges as well as the em­bossed Cum­mins C in the shifter knob are some sub­tle touches to the in­te­rior.

Cur­tis kept it sim­ple in­side for his fam­ily friendly cab, and stuck with his black on black theme.

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