It’s funny how life works out sometimes. One second New Jersey resident Curtis Dudley was looking for a new tow rig for his 9-second Honda Civic, the next he was selling that same Honda to finance his new project— a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS that was supposed to handle the aforementioned towing duties. Fate is odd like that sometimes, but this Trailblazer wasn’t ready to be relegated to roady duty, this SS is a frontman.
“It kind of just fell in my hands, it was a friend of mine’s and he kind of pushed me to buy it,” Curtis said. “I figured I would just use it as a tow vehicle, next thing you know it’s a 10-second vehicle.”
That’s right, not only is this rig capable of towing things to and from the track, it’s capable of running 10s once it’s there. And it does so in style, flashing its purple facade all the way to the finish line. The truck was originally black, but Curtis thought something a little flashier suited the SS better. First, the truck was wrapped in blue chrome, but Curtis noticed there were some copy cats running around in the same wrap and decided that it was a little played out. He then opted to go with a chromed out purple wrap from Hexis that currently covers the ride from head to toe.
While the finish may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s hard to disagree with the fact that it is a real head-turner and still manages to look quite menacing in the reflective purple hue. At the very least, most could admit that they don’t see many like it roaming the streets.
Despite it’s current appearance, when the TBSS passed into Curtis’s possession it was relatively stock, besides an aftermarket muffler. That, however, did not last very long. At first, it was just bolt ons to give the Trailblazer a little more scoot, but it quickly evolved into an all-out engine build.
For the uninitiated, the Trailblazer SS was first commissioned in 2006 and was produced until 2009. It received the Corvette’s LS2; albeit a dressed down version breathing through a single exhaust and different intake track which lowered the horsepower rating to 395, instead of the Corvette’s 400. Nevertheless, it still responds rather well to modifications, much like any LS variant, and that is what hooked Curtis.
Eventually the boltons—and even the addition of a supercharger—just weren’t doing it any more, and Curtis opted to replace the LS2 with a built 408 to safely run more boost. Engine building duties were sourced out to Race Proven Motorsports out of New Castle, Delaware who started with a GM factory cast iron block. The block, which originally featured 4.00-inch bores, was then punched out .030 and stuffed with a Callies Compstar forged crankshaft featuring a 4.00-inch throw. Callies Compstar forged rods were selected to spin the crank and forged Wiseco slugs traverse the cylinders
The stock 243 casting heads—which also happen to be used on the C5 Z06’s LS6— have been ported and the valve springs have been replaced to handle the added lift and duration of the camshaft. The bumpstick itself is provided to Race Proven Motorsports by Comp Cams and is ground to custom specifications. Stock rocker arms paired with hardened pushrods transmit the lift and duration to the stock valves.
Race Proven Motorsports built the mill with one thing in mind: more boost. The bullet sports a Magnuson TVS 2300 huffer throwing a tame 10 psi at the forged 408—for now. A methanol injection kit from AEM keeps the intake charge as cool as possible. It will need all the cool air it can get since the ultimate goal is to provide the engine with 15 or more pounds of boost on pump gas.
The SS still sports the 4L70E GM endowed it with, but its internals are far from stock. Components from Level 10 ensure that all that grunt is making its way to the driveshaft. A 3,600 rpm, triple disc torque converter from Circle D ensures that the Trailblazer keeps cutting 1.50-second 60-foot times all day.
Lowering struts up front and lowering springs out back (the air ride suspension was eliminated) has the Trailblazer sitting pretty. An adjustable pan hard bar helps keep the M&H 325/45R17 drag radials planted while coming off the line.
A drop-in Lingenfelter fuel pump, working in conjunction with a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump, keeps the mill fed with fresh octane but is reaching its limitations. Power House Tuning and Race Proven Motorsports split all the tuning duties.
“The fuel system is going to have to be changed for us to run more boost,” Curtis said. “And since that’s the goal, it’s our next step.”
While the setup provides plenty of grunt as-is, Curtis says he won’t be satisfied until it is powering the truck to sub-10-second passes.
“The goal is to go 9s on pump gas,” Curtis said. “We don’t really want to have to hit it with race gas.”
So far the TBSS has gone as fast at 10.70 at 126 mph on the old setup and an 11.15 at 122 in hot temps with the new setup. Curtis says the 408 still has a lot more in it and is still in its shake down phase. Once the fuel system is sorted and the boost is upped, he believes he has a real shot at hitting his goal. Not bad for a 4,500+ pound four-door SUV that crosses the line in a blur of purple.