The ‘80s were a time of many transitions. Many Americans began watching their favorite songs played on TV, the decades-long Cold War had finally warmed to room temperature, and computers slowly took the place of the carburetor under the hoods of our cars. At GM, the third-generation C/K model line of trucks was coming to a close, and the General had a litany of changes in store for the next-gen pickup.
Starting in 1987, Chevy re-designated the C/K truck line as the R/V series, built upon the new GMT 400 platform. The “R” would designate two-wheel drive variants with the “V” reserved for four-wheelers. If you are unfamiliar with the R/V series of trucks, you’re not alone since the designation lasted only five years. Even for its short duration, the R/V series has given us technology that has stood the test of time and changed the automotive landscape forever.
Photos By: Wes Taylor
Ryan Smith’s 1987 R10 Silverado was at the forefront of those changes. His hefty hauler led the way for technologies such as fuel injection and computer-controlled ignitions and transmissions. Ryan’s half-ton originally featured GM’s throttle-body injection instead of port injection and the first appearance of a computer-controlled lock-up torque converter.
Boosting The Transition
Engineering has come a long way since this ’87 R10 left the factory. Even now, Ryan’s Silverado is still transitioning nicely and leading the way with newer technology. To start, Ryan’s R10 now uses a late-model 6.0L LS engine that has been stroked to 408 cubic inches by the knowledgeable purveyors of power at Lamar Walden Automotive in Doraville, Georgia. Rob Walden prepped the engine with forged goodies, including a K1 Technologies crankshaft and connecting rods mated to Wiseco pistons. Each bank was capped using a pair of Rob Walden’s CNC’d heads featuring Texas Speed & Performance valvetrain.
While the new powertrain grossly outperformed the previous one the truck left the factory with, Ryan pushed it a little further and integrated boost into the mix. To do that, he had Alex McCarty of McCarty Speed & Fab in Monroe, Georgia, custom-build a turbocharger system featuring twin, mirror-image Precision Turbo 6466 spools. Regulating and limiting boost is handled by a Precision 64 mm blow-off valve and a pair of Precision 46 mm wastegates.
Sitting atop that beefy, boosted engine is a Holley Hi-Ram manifold wearing a Holley 105 mm throttle body and a set of Fuel Injector Clinic 1200 cc (115 lb) injectors to add just the right amount of go-juice as it pours the pressurized oxygen down into the engine. Controlling the mixture is a Holley Terminator X Max ECU tuned by Eric Evans of Queen City Speed in Gainesville, Georgia.
The current configuration ingests more fuel than the factory TBI could have ever imagined. Ryan upgraded the supply chain by adding Aeromotive’s Dual Phantom fuel pumps in the modified stock tank. A three-bar MAP sensor keeps track of how heavy-footed Ryan gets during the operation of his radical R10. Just behind the engine resides a 4L80E transmission coupled to the crankshaft with a 3,200 rpm stall-speed converter. This self-shifter has been infused with longevity dust by the folks at Whitley’s Transmissions in Lawrenceville, Georgia. From there, A GM 10-bolt sorts out the torque through a set of 4.10 gears wrapped around an Eaton locker differential.
The entire rear housing was treated to an axle flip-kit, where the springs now reside under the axle tubes and those beefy 31-spline axles spinning inside them. The rear section of the frame was “C-notched” to make room for full travel of the stock springs, which have had one leaf removed to prepare them for smoother sailing and a different type of hauling. Calvert Racing Caltrac bars help keep those springs from binding and maintain the perfect pinion angle during hard acceleration.
Best Of Both Worlds
Whereas Ryan’s highly-optioned hauler began life as a utilitarian vehicle, it now has broadened the spectrum where it performs. In street trim, the R10 wears a set of Ridler 20-inch wheels shod with 245/40 rubber up front and 295-wide hides in the rear. When at the track, Ryan swaps out to a set of 275/60-15 tires so his truck can sink its toes down into the concrete, which it does quite well, garnering a 60-foot time of 1.76 seconds. Ryan’s truck consumes the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at around 133 mph but he hopes to whittle his quarter-mile e.t. down into the nine-second range sometime in the future.
For safety and to make driving his truck more enjoyable, he refreshed the stock suspension, adding upgrades where they made the most sense. The front springs are 2 inches shorter than the OEMs, and he added 2-inch dropped spindles up front to get the bumper to the desired height and still have excellent handling and riding manners.
Inside, Ryan’s square body has been updated for comfort and control. A pair of Mazda RX7 electric bucket seats have replaced the factory bench. The truck’s analog indicators have come into the modern age with a set of Dakota Digital VHX-series gauges and a Holley 3.5-inch display tucked in the ashtray to help him keep track of the engine electronics.
Squares have always been my thing. – Ryan Smith, Owner
The Silverado was a highly-optioned truck back in 1987, and Ryan kept the creature comfort bits to keep the truck worthy of its designation. He reports that one of his favorite things about his truck is that he can drive it comfortably for two hours to a job site with the A/C blowing cold the whole way. A real benefit in the Georgia heat! Other benefits of his build are the rolling burnouts his truck can easily execute at 50 mph, and if he ever wants to limit wheelspin and cut a 10-second quarter-mile time, he only needs to swap the rear tires!
“Squares have always been my thing,” Ryan states. “I’ve lost count of how many I have owned and customized.” He thinks of it as a “healthy addiction,” and this one took him about two years to complete. We’re not sure if there’s any sort of recovery from an addiction like this, but when it comes to owning this beautiful blue square body, we’re certain we could deal with the effects of this ailment for our entire lifetime!