Car Feature: Family Mauler

photos by: Kevin DiOssi

A Murdered-Out Trailblazer SS has the Looks to Kill

They say to never judge a book by its cover, and to never underestimate a vehicle with an LSX powerplant under the hood. Well, maybe we made the second part of that up and but it’s very, very true! Now over the years, we’ve seen some fairly quick LS-powered Corvettes, Camaro, Vs… you name it! Quick Trailblazers are out there, too, and we’ve been up close and personal with more than a few of them on more than one occasion.

Not too long ago, we stumbled upon this mad creation built by Erik Bentley and our friends over at Lashway Motorsports in Pompano Beach, Florida. Originally a customer’s vehicle of his, Erik became smitten with the Trailblazer after several hours of wrench time and the amazing results that it produced. Wanting to keep it around a little bit longer, Erik made the now former owner an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Assembled from the ground up using intellect, careful planning and the right parts, this matte black family hauler does a lot with surprisingly very little. To be honest, we were relatively shocked that the entire long-block, with the exception of the camshaft and a trunnion upgrade, is completely stock.

Obviously we wouldn’t waste your time having you read about a stock Trailblazer, so you’ll have be patient and keep reading… Our eagle-eyed readers will be quick to note the custom, one-off intercooler poking out from under the grille our of the lower bumper — it’s there for a very good reason. Under the hood, bolted to the front of that mostly-stock LS2, is a F1-A ProCharger pumping out a very healthy 15-psi. of boost and helping the 364-cubic inch mill produce near and makes no difference, 630 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque to the rear tires.

Creating boost is easy with a ProCharger, but if you want your engine to live for any real length of time it’s probably a good idea to implement some upgrades into other aspects of the engine. Erik’s Trailblazer has seen such upgrades, including an Aeromotive fuel system; twin in-tank pumps, an adjustable regulator (set at 65-lb./hr) and 90-lb injectors.

The induction system has been massaged in a manner of a Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold, 90mm throttle body and a K&N filter — to increase the potential of the blower and to limit the restriction of the incoming oxygen. The same measures were taken on the other end of exhaust end of things, with Kooks long-tube headers, Y-pipe and Magnaflow muffler with 3-inch diameter tubing, and dumps to provide high-effecient exhaust flow.

Spark is provided with a stock ignition and coil setup, with MSD plug wires and NGK plugs being the only modifications needed over the OEM configuration.

Backing the blown LS2 is a 4L80E, a vast improvement over the 65E that once lived in the SUV, and one that has been modified by Jake’s Performance. Sitting snugly between it ant the engine is a Precision triple-disc torque converter and a TCI flexplate. The high stall converter helps tremendously, as the power is then sent through the stock aluminum driveshaft to the 14-bolt rearend that houses 4.11 gears.

A RWD example, the Erik’s Trailblazer SS relies only on the rear wheels to propel it down the dragster, with CCW Classic rollers at all four corners; in 17-inch diameter, with 4.5-inch skinnies up front and 11-inches of wheel out back. The tires are a bit mismatched, though, with Mickey Thompson Sportsmans in the front, and M&H Dragmaster sticking to the pavement — all 390mm of it!

Underneath the SUV’s body, is a compilation of custom-fabricated tubular upper and lower A-arms, Panhard bar, a rear sway bar and rear lower control arms. The front sway bar has been ditched, and the front springs/struts have been swapped out for adjustable coil-overs. These changes not only allow for reduced front end weight, but improved weight transfer on launch.

The outward appearance has been left pretty mild, with the only changes being the Cross Customs cowl induction hood, the aforementioned wheel upgrades and the obvious hue. As you may have noticed, there are hints of the factory Red Jewel Metallic paint spread throughout the door jambs, under the hood and various little sections of the truck. The matte black skin is actually a wrap, and can be removed at any time.

We like it, but it’s also great to know that it can be swapped out whenever the owner has a change of heart. It should be noted that Erik’s sister shop, Lashway Bodyworks, actually performed the wrap.

Inside, the changes are even more subtle, with only an Alpine DVD/CD audio/video head unit and an AutoMeter boost gauge as the key noteworthy changes inside the cockpit. After all, you can’t fix something if it isn’t broken!

The Trailblazer’s ECU was calibrated with HP Tuners, courtesy of Lashway’s own Josh Issacs, and dialed the 600-plus horsepower beast well enough to get it down the drag strip in 10.8-seconds at 126 mph. A 1.45-second 60-ft. time is equally impressive, partially for such a heavy vehicle, and EBC brake pads and cross-drilled/slotted rotors bring this beast to a halt in a hurry.

Electric fans, MSD two-step, a 12-rib blower drive and an AlkyControl methanol injection are a few of the additional keynote items on this truck, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The truck has just the right aesthetics and just another oats to put the smile on the face of anyone who’s driving it.  However, Mr. Bentley is a busy man with ever-changing tastes and needs. Since we’ve shot the truck, he had already unloaded it to another and has moved on.

We’ll just have to keep an eye out on what Erik will be up to next…


  • CAR: 2008 Trailblazer SS
  • OWNER: Erik Bentley
  • ENGINE BLOCK: GM, LS2 (364 cubic-inch)
  • CAMSHAFT: Texas Speed; 228/232 duration, .600/.600 lift, 114 LSA
  • CYLINDER HEAD: GM, LS2 (stock, with trunnion upgrade)
  • INDUCTION: Holley Hi-Ram intake, 90mm throttle body, K&N filter
  • POWER ADDER: ProCharger; F1-A, 5-inch pulley
  • INTERCOOLER: Custom, one-off piece
  • BOOST: 15-psi.
  • FUEL DELIVERY: 90-lb injectors, Aeromotive regulator set at 65-psi., dual Aeromotive pumps
  • IGNITION: Stock coil, distributor, MSD plug wires, NGK plugs
  • EXHAUST: Kooks long-tube headers, Y-pipe and Magnaflow mufflers, with 3-inch diameter tubing and dumps
  • OILING: LSA pump, stock pan, pickup tube relocation
  • TUNING: HP Tuners; tuning by Josh Issacs
  • TRANSMISSION: 4L80E; built by Jake’s Transmission
  • CONVERTER: Precision; triple-clutch
  • DRIVESHAFT: Stock; aluminum
  • REAREND: GM; 14-bolt, 4.11 gears
  • SUSPENSION: Custom, one-off tubular upper and lower front control arms, Panhard bar, rear sway bar, rear control arms, front sway bar ditched
  • BRAKES: Stock; EBC pads, drilled/slotted rotors
  • WHEELS: CCW; Classics, 17×5 (front), 17×11 (rear)
  • TIRES: Mickey Thompson Sportsman (28x6x17, front), M&H Dragmaster (390/40/17, rear)
  • HP/TQ.: 630/600
  • 1/4-MILE E.T.: 10.8 at 126 mph
  • 60-FT.: 1.45

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