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  1. #1

    Default building chevy's version of a lightning

    I'm in the market for another truck currently. I'm dying for a lightning but I'm not paying the prices they are asking for something that old. So I'm looking to get in to a half ton chevy and build it. I'm thinking a kenne bell or whipple, long tubes, cat back, maybe a cam and some trans work and I'd be happy. Only problem is is I don't know which year would be best to start with. Hence why I'm here.

    What year silverado would be best to install these mods on? What kinda power can the 5.3 withstand before you start looking in to going in to the motor and building it? I'd be perfectly content with a 400-450 rear wheel horsepower truck if that's attainable. How strong are the transmissions? Are we talking converter and valve body or full on new clutches and bands and shafts? How about the transfercases for the 4wd trucks? Can they withstand the abuse? This truck won't see the strip ever but the occasional stop light blast or just full throttle run will happen (two lane roads are fun haha).

    I'm just looking for a fun daily driver that can hold it's own to a bolt on lightning if possible. If not, then just something fun and reliable to cruise around in.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    murdog94's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Cloquet, Minnesota, United States
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    The 5.3L will take a blower just fine but make sure you stay below 8PSI or else you will be eating head gaskets. As to the tranny, you will want to do clutches and basically a full build since the 4L60e isnt as strong as it could be, and once you are slapping that much power thru it it will inevitable grenade. But the big thing is how much you are planning to spend here. I have seen a few Lightnings 01ish going for 12-15K with less than 100K miles.
    a blower is $4000 or more plus tuning, and a good tranny is gonna be at least $3000, then what kinda of truck you buy since i have yet to find a decent chevy (99-07) going for less than $5K that isnt rusted out or has so many miles it is due for a rebuild. So that is why i am asking. now the 5.3L makes a decent amount of power out of the box.


    1997 Chevy S-10 Blazer 4X4 with 330K miles and counting (Hunting rig).

    2009 Saturn Aura XE (wifes car)

    2011 F-150 Crew 4X4

    "Hold it to the floor till you see God.... Then Brake!!!!"

  3. #3


    Nothing makes decent power out of the box unless it's a zr1 or bugatti veyron HAHA.

    I've seen 04 lightning's with 50-60k going for $15k but I can't justify that money for something that old. That's not much younger than my current truck. So I'm looking to get a newer chevy and build it up.

    What about the silverado ss?

  4. #4


    Welcome to the club. I would start with a regular cab 2wd short bed, less weight. Drop in a 6.0 with a cam, long tube headers, CAI, a tune, upgraded trans and torque converter, some rear gears and thats a quick little truck.

  5. #5


    Defiantly go with a shortbed single cab. Agreed with all of the above on Trans/gear changes.

    I would look at dropping a GM performance LS376/480hp crate motor in if you plan on having a daily driver. They run about $6400 Retail, i'm sure you could get them cheaper elsewhere. You can find them on the GM performance website, under crate motors or Part# 19244549

    2009 Silverado 1500
    5.3L / 3.73 G80 / 4spd / 4x4 / LWB/ Ext Cab / HD Tow-Haul
    2.25in ReadyLift Level Kit / 3in blocks/ 3500lb HellWig / 265x65x17 Wrangler AT
    K&N Filter / AirRaid MIT / MagnaFlow 2.25" Dual Exhaust / HyperTech MaxEnergy

  6. #6


    My brother has a bone stock 2001 Lightning that he just picked up for 11,500 with under 60k miles on it. Sharp little truck. Until we go head to head I am not sure that he can beat me. My truck is about 3k lbs heavier so that might make the difference. Even with that I think it would be a close race based on my butt dyno.

    2007 Silverado VortecMAX R.I.P 24JUN2011
    2005 Honda VTX 1300R
    2008 Tahoe LTZ
    2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

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