2006 Chevy Kodiak 4500 - The Incredible Hulk
This Is What a Kodiak Should Look Like
By Brandan Gillogly
photographer: Brandan Gillogly
If your goal was to build a street-legal monster truck, a Chevy Kodiak wouldn't be a bad platform to start on. Carson Braga set out with that goal, and his '06 Kodiak 4500 already had a jump-start toward being a monster. Now, it's well on its way. It's missing the four-wheel steering, so it's a bit hard to maneuver through a parking lot, but does just fine on the highway. In fact, he's driven the truck to Pismo Dunes, California, three times in the three months since the truck's completion, and traveled to and from Yuma, Arizona, all without any run-ins with the California Highway Patrol.
Perhaps the first thing that makes a monster truck truly monstrous is its tires, so we'll start from there and go up. Carson chose 445/65R22.5 Goodyear tires and Alcoa wheels to plant the traction to the ground. Metric tire sizes don't really do the tire justice, however, as they sound even more impressive when you realize that's more than 45 inches tall and 17.5 inches wide.
To run that massive rubber, Jos Carranza installed Atlas springs on the Kodiak in the shop at Braga Ranch. The 12 inches of added suspension, combined with the new tires, lifted the truck two feet above normal truck territory and encroaching into the monster-truck realm. The suspension on the Kodiak is actually very comfortable, thanks to several key additions. Triple-bypass King shocks ride on each corner of the truck, and additional road damping comes from two small airbags at the rear of the cab that allow the cab to float over the chassis, pivoting from the front. Custom sway bar mounts, both front and rear, allow for confident on-road driving, while the steering got a boost from an ORU hydraulic ram assist that makes turning the huge tires much easier. The turning radius was also reduced when the front axle was narrowed 5 inches in each side, which was a modification the commercial vehicle enforcement of the California Highway Patrol indicated as necessary for the truck to remain street legal.
Of course, the massive rubber had other consequences, so the 6.6L LLY Duramax and Allison 1000 received upgrades to compensate. Southeast Diesel Performance in Yuma, Arizona, installed an AFE filter and PPE Hot 2 programmer before Luis Cardenas bent up a custom 5-inch exhaust that ends with a 6-inch MagnaFlow tip. The grand total for the Duramax is 485 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque.
The added power from the engine and resistance from the tires would have spelled disaster for even a transmission as stout as the Allison 1000, so it got a fresh batch of internals from Tom Georgalos at Lee Myles Transmissions. This included a Sun Coast Stage IV trans kit with a triple-disc converter, new clutches, and a new valve body. A Mag-Hytec pan also adds insurance with increased fluid capacity.
Inside the Kodiak, the interior is simple and functional, with pedals from Billet Specialties and chrome Escalade door handles, which adds some flash to an otherwise subdued black and gray theme. The huge carbon-fiber dash spreads in front of the driver with Auto Meter gauges to monitor engine and transmission vitals , such as intake air temp, exhaust temp, and boost pressure. Meanwhile, an Alpine IVA-200 navigation unit orchestrates the audio and sends video to a 17-inch Pyle flip-down monitor. Kar Tunz in Pleasanton, California, was tasked with installing all of the audio components, beginning with 144 sq-ft of Dynamat to soundproof the cabin.
Two Alpine PDX 4x100 amplifiers power components in the kick panel and doors, while three Alpine PDX 1000x1 and one PDX 250x2 - mounted under the rear seats - power the three 12-inch subs, which were mounted along the back wall of the cab. The crossovers were mounted in tough powdercoated steel buckets in the rocker panel. The powdercoating continues onto the seat brackets, custom made by Luis, where '05 Silverado bucket seats and the rear seat from a crew cab Silverado are now covered in comfortable Katzkin leather upholstery, installed by Burkes Upholstery in Salinas, California.
This is our Paint and Body special, and the bodywork on Carson's Kodiak is our favorite part, so we've saved it for last. One look at this truck will tell you that it's extraordinary. Sal Estrada and Rolando Infante are responsible for the shaved tailgate and door handles, as well as the final paint: a deep, pearl green. The rear bumper is a Cadillac Escalade piece, while the front is custom, pieced together by Jos Carranza. Those modifications alone would have made for a beautiful truck, but you've no doubt noticed something even more special about this truck.
The front end of the truck was designed around '07 Tahoe headlights, and is the work of Aaron Elliott at Streamline Customs, who is also responsible for reworking the Monroe bedsides to get the body lines to match up. The custom front fiberglass perfectly molded in the Tahoe lights and also used a scaled-up version of the Tahoe's two trapezoidal grille openings, this time backed with a stainless steel mesh grille. The result is a truck that blends the Kodiak's cab, which is essentially a carryover of the '88-'98 style, with the cleaner front-end style of an '07 Tahoe. The look is leaps and bounds above the ho-hum styling the Kodiak had when it rolled off the assembly line. There's really no comparison.
Carson would like to thank the California Highway Patrol, which helped out by critiquing during the build to check out headlight height, overall width, and other important dimensions, just to keep Carson and his Kodiak out of trouble with the law. Carson built this truck without sponsors, but with the help of several talented craftsmen he'd like to thank, including: David Acosta, George Armendariz, Ronnie Burke, Luis Cardenas, Jos Carranza, Aaron Elliott, Sal Estrada, Tom Georgalos, Tommy Hua, Rolando Infante, and his father Stan, who supported Carson's choice to take apart a perfectly good, brand-new truck.