First gen Chevy Colorado Prerunner Build

  • Model: 1st Gen Chevy Colorado
  • Wheels: 33"
  • Category: Prerunner
  • Build Level: Pro
  • Capability Score: 50/70
  • Mods Budget: $$$$
Chevy Colorado prerunner with CWF offroad bumper
Long travel suspension on chevy colorado
Long travel suspension on chevy colorado first gen
Chevy Colorado with prerunner suspension and a lift
Chevy Colorado reock crawling +2
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I wouldn’t lie; it wasn’t easy to find a decent 1st generation Chevy Colorado Prerunner for our feature post because the majority of the prerunners that we see today are built on full-size truck platforms like the F150 and Silverado/Sierra.

There are good reasons for that, such as a long wheelbase, powerful stock V8 motors, and a wide range of aftermarket parts. However, smaller desert trucks like Rangers and Colorados are often chosen as a starting point for people who want to enter the world of off-roading. They are a little more affordable in terms of gas mileage and maintenance and perfectly suited to familiarize yourself with racing. We decided to track down a nicely built Colorado, no matter what it took, and give you a breakdown of the pros and cons of a smaller truck-based prerunner.

1st gen Chevy Colorado prerunner desert truck

We searched popular resources and spoke with guys at meets to find a trace of the perfect Colorado-based desert truck. Finally, one day, it showed up on my Instagram feed. The wide and low prerunner stance, huge T/A tires covered with widebody fiberglass fenders, and a long-travel custom suspension immediately attracted my attention. At that moment, I realized that the truck we had been looking for, for such a long time, was right in front of me.

Advantages, the wheel base of my truck is ideal for the short course link setup. It’s less on gass, at least for now untill the V8 swap. As for disadvantages, Chevy 1500 comes with a V8, which easier to cage, there are many prefabbed cages. More room, stronger frame, more choices of long travel kits. It’s only like one or two companies that offer long travel kits for Colorado.

Steve

The Build

It’s not an all-in project built by a racing company with an endless budget and resources. This Colorado was built by a DIY enthusiast, a guy with gasoline in his veins and a huge passion for desert racing. His name is Steve Cordova from Pomona, CA, and he was kind enough to answer all our questions about his truck and give a full breakdown of the build.

Specs & Upgrades

Engine:

  • 3.7L Inline 5-Cylinder
  • K&N Cold Air Intake
  • Jet Performance Throttle Body Spacer

Suspension:

  • Front: Dynasty Offroad long-travel kit
  • Front: 2.5″ 10″ coilovers by RADFLO
  • Rear: CWF-built bed cage
  • Rear: 16″ 2.5″ RADFLO shocks
  • Rear: King triple bypasses

Wheels:

  • ULTRA Motorsports beadlock wheels
  • 33″ BFGoodrich T/A KO off-road tires

Body:

  • Bulged fiberglass fenders
  • Steel tubular bumpers fabricated by CWF
  • Integrated skid plate

Safety:

  • Fully TIG-welded cage by Jason Noren Fabrications (1 ¾” tubing)
  • 3 weld-on PRP bucket suspension seats
  • 5-point seat harness by Crow

Other:

  • Hummer H3 differential with 4.56 gears
  • Factory A/C
  • LED quad lights in the bumper
  • 3 round off-road driving lights on the front bumper
  • 4 round off-road lights on the rear sport bar

I’ve always loved off-roading since my first time in the Glamis sand dunes,” says Steve. “I needed a bigger car because I was going to have a kid and decided that a Colorado would be a nice truck in terms of gas mileage and would perfectly satisfy the needs of a growing family. But after some time, it turned from a daily driver into a full-time off-road project.

Engine

The truck started life as a white 2007 Chevy Colorado 2WD with a crew cab and a straight-5 3.7L DOHC engine. Inline five-cylinder engines are not very common among automotive manufacturers, but this GM LLR (also known as Vortech 3700) provides enough power for this smaller-sized truck and produces about 242 horsepower and 242 ft-lb of torque, which is even more than the 236 HP produced by a comparable 4.0L V6 engine used on Toyota Tacoma trucks of the same era.

The odometer has just clocked 128 thousand miles, and despite this number, the engine does not have any problems. Overall, it was left untouched; the only few things that were added are the performance cold air intake by K&N and a JET throttle body spacer to get better airflow across the full range of RPM.

Long travel suspension on chevy colorado first gen
Upfront this Colorado is running a Dynasty Offroad long-travel kit and 2.5″ 10″ Coilovers by RADFLO

Suspension

The suspension is where things get much more exciting, as the number of modifications here will not leave anyone indifferent. To achieve proper articulation and gain maximum wheel travel, which is vitally important in desert racing, it was decided to install a Dynasty Offroad long travel kit upfront and hook it up with 2.5″ 10″ coilovers by RADFLO Suspension Technology and KING bump stops.

The rear-end suspension modifications are represented by the CWF-built bed cage, mated with 16″ 2.5″ RADFLO shocks and triple bypasses, which allowed the truck to get that nice floating suspension feel and gain confidence while driving at higher speeds.

Long travel suspension on chevy colorado

Rear-wheel drive means fewer modifications upfront and more suspension travel; however, there is a higher risk of getting stuck, which isn’t great when you’re out there in the desert alone. The factory Chevy differential was dropped in favor of a Hummer H3 differential with 4.56 gears that work particularly well with the oversized off-road wheels.

Wheels

Chevy Colorado with a custom fabricated low profile tubular bumper and skid plate
Speaking of wheels, this Colorado prerunner is rolling on ULTRA Motorsports beadlock wheels wrapped with 33” BF Goodrich T/A KO offroad tires.

Body Work

Of course, the widened stance gained by the new suspension components, longer wheel travel height, and new tires required much more space in the wheel arches both on the front and the back, so there was no chance of keeping the factory fenders untouched. Instead of cutting, Steve decided to swap them with a pair of bulged fiberglass fenders, which made the truck look even wilder.

See Also
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The original bumpers had to go as well to free up some space for the wheels and improve the truck’s approach and departure angles. Steel tubular bumpers fabricated by CWF with an integrated skid plate allowed the truck to improve its ground clearance and avoid damage on hard landings. Thanks to these mods, Steve was finally able to join the off-road racing crowd and bring his truck along to have some fun in the desert.

Safety

All types of motorsports are closely related to certain health risks, and desert racing is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of motorsport. Neglecting common safety measures can result in serious consequences for the driver and passengers. The unpredictable off-road terrain hides various hazards, such as potholes, bumps, rocks, roots, and God knows what else. Even a flat tire or mechanical failure may cause an unfortunate accident.

Chevy Colorado custom fabricated roll cage
Keeping this in mind, Steve decided to invest in a fully TIG-welded cage done by Jason Noren Fabrications out of Montclair, CA. The precisely measured and fabricated cage made of 1 ¾” tubing protects the entire space inside the cab and doesn’t interfere with other interior panels, making the truck comfortable even for everyday driving. It also gives Steve peace of mind, so he can fully enjoy driving the truck without fear of a rollover.

The interior of the Colorado is outfitted with three weld-on PRP bucket suspension seats to improve comfort and driving safety. A 5-point seat harness by Crow keeps the passengers planted no matter how crazy the turns and jumps are. The factory A/C works great to maintain a comfortable climate inside the cabin when it gets too hot outside.

Lights

You can find different kinds of additional LED lights all around the truck, starting from the small rectangular LED quad lights carefully built into the bumper, up to three extra bright round off-road driving lights on the front bumper and the same four round off-road lights on the rear sport bar. All of the lights provide excellent output and highlight the truck’s racing attitude.

Chevy Colorado with a bed bar mounted light bar

Conclusion

At the moment, Steve’s Chevy Colorado prerunner is cut in half and peacefully sleeping in the shop, waiting for the 4-link rear suspension upgrade. We hope that our little write-up will cheer him up and help him finish all the work on the truck faster so he can head out to the desert.

In general, the truck project is pretty much complete and needs nothing but a couple of small touch-ups here and there. The only big thing that Steve is planning to do to the truck is a V8 motor swap, which doesn’t seem to be too complicated since these trucks were available with 5.3L V8 Vortec engines during the last few years of production. Below is the build summary based on our evaluation score.

Off-road Capability Score: 50/70

With a lifted RWD body-on-frame (+5 points), long-travel coilover suspension, 4-link rear setup, oversized 33″ off-road tires (+20 points), Hummer H3 rear differential (+10 points), low range gearing (+10 points), and body armor (+5 points), this Chevy Colorado Prerunner earns an off-road capability score of 50/70. The lack of 4WD and front locking differential limit an ideal overall score, but it isn’t significant for a desert truck.

Complexity Level: Pro

Extensive suspension upgrades, including a custom long-travel front coilover setup and rear bed cage, mated with RADFLO shocks and triple bypasses, along with the Hummer H3 differential swap, showcase this Colorado Prerunner’s professional-level build quality. Carefully selected components and attention to detail in fabrication and assembly demonstrate a top-tier build optimized for maximum off-road performance.

Budget: $$$$

High-end custom suspension components, extensive fabrication work, and quality accessories like steel bumpers and skid plates reflect a significant investment in top-tier parts and professional-level craftsmanship. Despite some budget-conscious choices like retaining the stock engine, this Colorado Prerunner falls into the $$$$ budget category, offering exceptional performance and durability for tackling the toughest terrain at speed.

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