2006 SEMA Show by TCC Team (10/30/2006)
All our coverage from the Las Vegas aftermarket extravaganza.
While he’s normally associated with the Chevy Monte Carlo SS racecar he drives on Sundays, Dale Earnhardt Jr. also is an enthusiastic truck aficionado – especially those trucks that perform best off the road. GM teamed up with Earnhardt to design and build the ultimate Silverado off-roader, dubbing it the Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Big Red” Silverado.
The Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Big Red” Silverado is based on the all-new, 2007 Chevy Silverado crew cab and features custom exterior appointments, an off-road-ready suspension, one-off custom 20-inch wheels at Dale Jr.’s request, a custom interior and more. This one-of-a-kind Silverado builds on Earnhardt’s personal notion of off-road enjoyment, which was previously conveyed in his personal truck – a previous-generation Silverado named “Big Red.”
“The ‘Big Red’ Silverado is the ultimate expression of off-road trucks,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “It is inspired by Dale Jr.’s personal and modified Silverado, but takes his concept to an entirely new and exciting level.”
Earnhardt collaborated with GM designers on the truck, visiting the GM Design
“This truck has Dale Jr.’s personality woven all through it,” said Peper. “It even has a locomotive horn that was his idea; when it blows, you know for miles around who’s coming up the trail.”
The Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Big Red” Silverado is powered by GM Powertrain’s 6.2L Gen IV V-8 engine, a high-output, all-aluminum engine with variable valve timing that produces 380 horsepower and 417 lb.-ft. of torque. It transfers its power to all four wheels via a Hydra-Matic four-speed electronically controlled transmission. The front and rear axles are equipped with 3.73 gears and Eaton ELocker electronic locking differentials, which help the truck deliver exhilarating performance with tall off-road tires. Stopping power is enhanced with a set of Baer disc brakes, including six-piston calipers and 15-inch cross-drilled rotors in the front and twin-piston floating calipers with 13-inch cross-drilled rotors in the rear.
The commanding stance and flared bodywork of the “Big Red” Silverado combine for a menacing presence. All of the front end sheet metal, including the bumper, fenders, hood and grille are unique to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Silverado, as are the rear fenders and rear bumper.
The front end design evokes the look of Baja racers, with a high-mounted, brush guard-type wraparound bumper, which conceals an integraed 6,000-pound Warn Winch. The brush guard bumper is fully integrated into the design and contours of the Silverado, extending out toward the flared front fenders. The large fender opening and box-type flares accommodate both the large off-road tires and the vertical travel of the front suspension. The hood also is custom and features a front-opening air intake scoop, which further adds to the truck’s powerful appearance.
Like the front fenders, the Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Big Red” Silverado’s rear fenders feature large openings and boxed flares. At the top of the rear fenders, a unique roll bar is enhanced with a flying bridge-style extension that incorporates housings for large off-road driving lamps. The flying bridge extension is integrated with the design of the Silverado’s cab and rear fenders.
At the rear is a custom roll pan, with four, large six-inch-diameter exhaust outlets exiting beneath the center of the truck. There is no tailgate, leaving open access to the cargo bed which, like off-road racing trucks, is equipped with mounted spare tire and wheel.
The “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Big Red” Silverado is painted with a unique base coat, mid-coat and clear coat system. The base coat is a custom mix with Spectra Flair additive; the mid-coat has a red tint hue. The Spectra Flair additive in the base coat combines with the mid-coat to provide a unique metallic appearance. The top clear coat application gives the paint finish a mile-deep shine. Subtle “Dale Jr.” signature and “8” graphics are found on various areas of the body and chassis.
The stance is achieved with a raised suspension and the large, off-road wheel/tire package. A Rancho four-inch lift kit, with adjustable front and rear shocks, is used, along with GM front coil springs and re-arched rear leaf springs. Off-road skid plates and other underbody shielding are employed to protect vital chassis and engine components when driving over rocks and other unseen obstacles.
Befitting this one-off off-roader, it wears unique, GM-designed 20 x 12-inch wheels. These CNC-machined wheels have a bold, deep-dish design. They feature 5.125-inch backspacing in the front and 3.375-inch backspacing in the rear, which helps push out the wheels to the edge of the vehicle, enhancing the rugged look of the “Big Red” Silverado while simultaneously providing increased off-road driving stability and a lower center of gravity.
The fenders have larger openings and are flared to accommodate large, off-road tires mounted on the GM-designed 20-inch deep-dish wheels.
The Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Big Red” Silverado’s cabin is trimmed all in black,
with Ebony leather-covered seats with Gloss Ebony leather piping. Black also is
the color of the
The interior simultaneously conveys luxury and an all-business attitude, owing to the truck’s off-road capability. It’s the perfect environment for a driver who’s at home in race vehicle, but seeks a more comfortable environment when relaxing – even if that means crawling over rocks, slogging through rivers and flying over dry riverbeds.