General Motors Special Vehicles Group Pushes the Pickup Truck Envelope

Featured Story: GM Opens its Toy Box
By: Michael Levine Last Edited: 08-06-01 22:00 © 2001

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Think back to when you were growing up. Remember your mother telling you to be nice and share your toys? Well, auto enthusiasts around the planet owe a debt of gratitude to one particular mom, a Mrs. Moss, because she sure taught her son, Jon, this lesson well.

Jon Moss, Manager of GM's Special Vehicles Group (think Ford SVT), and the rest of his team opened up their toy chest of nearly 50 pavement-ripping, high-performance cars and trucks to share with journalists at Milan Raceway just west of Detroit.

GM's Special Vehicles Group is tasked with taking each GM brand to its high-performance cutting edge and trying out new ideas and technologies. Though a select few of these ideas are radical enough to literally pin your brain to the back of your skull, take the 730hp Corvette or Camaro Drag Car as examples, some ideas are destined for the showroom floor.

Four of the ballistic badboys onhand at Milan were pickup trucks that we had a chance to drive, err handle.

Chevrolet S-10 ZZ4.3 Xtreme Concept
The S-10 ZZ4.3 uses the same appearance package as the S-10 Xtreme.

Like the rest of its Special Vehicle brethren, the Chevrolet S-10 ZZ4.3 Xtreme Concept is more than just an exercise in creating a hot rod pickup. These vehicles are meant to try out new ideas and packages for possible production. And this is one idea looking ripe for the picking.

At first glance you might be fooled at the baby blue pearl paint. Don't be. It's only meant to lull the competition before you leave them staring at your 260hp / 277ft-lb rubber vaporizing wake - which is suspiciously similar in color to the truck's paint job.

The ZZ4.3 takes the standard S-10 Xtreme, available as an optional appearance and suspension package since 1999, to a level of performance befitting its injection-molded ground effects.

How likely is this to reach your dealership? Well consider the following:

The Chevrolet S-10 is still well over a year away from the launch of its midsize successor, the Colorado, and it's definitely not getting any younger. Chevrolet wants the S-10 to go out on a high note.

The 4.3-liter Vortec engine is ancient by today's standards, originating back in the 1980s.

GM is also eager to promote its Service Parts Organization (SPO), the General's answer to Toyota TRD. SPO's engineers are officially responsible for the modifications to the 4.3-liter Vortec engine's intake manifold, which accounts for the 60+ bump in horsepower.

Add all of this up, plus some not-so-subtle hints during our drive, and we expect to see the ZZ4.3 offered as a dealer installed crate engine option within the next six months.

The S-10 ZZ4.3 on the 1/4-mile stretch at Michigan's Milan Raceway

The ZZ4.3 drives quite similarly to the Xtreme. Its lowered ride height and aggressive engine makes for an almost sports car like feel rather than a truck.

Armed with one of the tightest 6-speed manual transmissions this writer has ever driven, the shift gates felt like they were spaced about a millimeter apart but provided for quick gear throws. Be careful shifting from 2nd to 3rd though, you're just about as likely to wind up in 5th.

Any production version of the ZZ4.3 engine will likely be offered with both automatic and manual transmissions, though we expect the manual to be a little bit easier to manage than the truck we drove.


Chevrolet S-10 ZZ4.3 Xtreme
Three-passenger, three-door pickup truck
Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
3334 lbs total weight 61% / 39% weight distribution

Engine Type and Size:
GM Performance Parts Modified 4.3-liter Vortec V6 Crate Engine

Horsepower (hp):
260 @ 4800 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):
277 @ 2800 rpm

Six-speed manual

Other Drivetrain:
Rear wheel Drive
Solid rear axle with limited slip differential

Front: ZQ8 sport coil spring
Rear: ZQ8 leaf spring (two-stage)

Stainless steel front / rear disc brakes with slotted rotors and four-wheel ABS

Wheels and Tires:
American Racing-Torq-Thrust II wheels, 17" x 8" front / 17" x 9" rear
Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45R-17 tires

122.9 inches

55-inch front / 53.4-inch rear track

Body / Interior:
Extended cab
Standard length fleetside box
Xtreme body cladding package
High back bucket seats, argent leather with perforated leather inserts
Custom leather door inserts
White pearl w/blue cast exterior paint
Rear roll pan
Flush mounted tonneau covers

0 - 60 mph:
8.20 seconds

1/4-mile time:

1/4-mile speed:

If you like burning rubber, the ZZ4.3 S-10 is more than happy to oblige.
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