Killing It: LT4-Powered ZL1500 Takes The Internet By Storm

Over the years, Chevrolet has had some iconic trucks that hit the market and took it by storm, starting way back in 1918 with the introduction of its One-Ton truck. Of course, the styling has changed over the years as Chevy kept pushing for a better vehicle. Some of the more popular trucks today are the C10’s from the 1960s and ’70s. And as the trucks increased in value, the Square Body has stepped up to the plate as a more inexpensive alternative to the trucks made before it. However, if history has taught us anything, it’s evident that this vicious cycle will repeat itself as we watch these trucks skyrocket in value. So the next truck that’s going to gain popularity, which it already has, is the fourth-gen Chevrolet C/K 1,500 trucks built from 1988-’98.

The ZL1500 started off like most trucks, on stock tires and wheels and with a few modifications.

Out of Grain Valley, Missouri, Killer Performance is known for some wicked builds with a few under their belt, including a twin-turbo ZL1 and a ProCharged C7 corvette. And while the company specializes in performance late model cars, they saw the potential of the fourth-gen C/K 1500 Chevrolet trucks. In our opinion, these trucks look great and are getting strong support from the performance aftermarket which makes for a terrific combination. 

Even though the truck looks similar to the first picture in the article, it’s a completely different animal.

The first truck to come out of the Killer Performance stable is the ZL1500 which was rebuilt from top to bottom, and no expense was spared. This truck received QA1 coil-over suspension, Wilwood brakes, an Aeromotive fuel pump, WeldWheels, Dakota Digital gauges, and a host of aftermarket parts. And while all of these go-fast goodies are cool, it’s the powerplant that really gets people stirred up. Instead of simply going with another LS, Justin Keith, the owner of Killer Performance decided on a Chevrolet LT4 engine with a Jokerz Performance ported blower and a Texas Speed camshaft. For the transmission, Keith chose a 10-speed from GM as well. A Speartech harness was used to connect the LT4, 10-speed, to the ECU and the TCM.

The QA1 torque-arm style coil-over suspension system is a far cry from the factory leaf spring setup. And the engine installation is so clean; the LT4 looks like it was installed from Chevrolet.

While the ZL1500 is a stellar build, their latest truck is going to take it up a notch, if you can believe that. This go-around, the team will be wrenching on one of the most sought-after Chevrolet trucks produced, the iconic 454SS. Now, we know that some of the purists out there will argue and grip about this build, and that’s fine. But we also know that this truck will be ten times better than it was from the factory. Much like the ZL1500, the 454SS will receive a modern suspension, drivetrain, 10-speed transmission, and a Chevrolet Performance LT5 engine instead of the LT4. 

This 454SS is getting the ZL1500 treatment but will get an LT5 engine instead of the LT4.

While you may think that replacing the 454 with the LT5 is insane, it’s not from a performance standpoint. The 7.4-liter big-block in the 454SS makes a dismal 255 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 405 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm. The new 6.2-liter LT5 cranks out 755 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 715 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Could you build a 454 to make this kind of power? Yes… Would it be as efficient as the LT5? Not at all. But don’t take our word for it. According to Hagerty.com, the 454SS truck got an average of 9-11 miles per gallon with the 700r four-speed transmission, while the LT5 gets 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. And while we love the sound of a big block, the LT5 with a ten-speed transmission will be hard to beat in this combination.

You can check out Keith’s YouTube channel, Stangkiller Productions, for more information on both of these awesome builds. 

 

 

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About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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