The first generation of the Oldsmobile Bravada was built as the upscale version of the 4-door Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy. A big highlight is the upgraded AWD Smart Track system that used a Borg Warner 4472 transfer case, and it also had ABS, and remote keyless entry as standard. Yes, it was kind of a big deal in the SUV world back in the 1990s. If it only had a more impressive powertrain, it might have been as cool as the GMC Typhoon, but it just fell a little short.
A 500-horsepower 1994 Olds Bravada currently for sale on Craigslist makes us forget all about the shortcomings of the originally 4.3L V6 powered Bravada. This SUV is no longer trailing the pack with its underpowered engine, it’s not equipped with a 6.0L GM engine that gets a little extra boost from a LSA blower, and would make a really fun sleeper car.
In addition to the blower, the engine is also equipped with new bearings, ARP cylinder head studs, LS6 cam, and upgraded springs. The LSA supercharger also has new bearings and isolator. It has a ZL1 air lid, and flex fuel sensor so it can run on E85 fuel.
Backing the powerful engine is a built-up 4L80E transmission with Jakes torque converter that feeds into a custom front driveshaft. The rearend is a rebuilt 8.8 unit with 3.73:1 gearing. It’s also lowered in the front and rear, running a “full exhaust”, and is fed by a Walbro 450 pump with Kenne Bell boost-a-pump.
This all adds up to an AWD Olds Bravada SUV that will run 11.70s in the quarter-mile, although it hasn’t been back to the track since changing out the torque converter and installing a smaller pulley.
The build doesn’t come without its issues, unfortunately. Its current owner confesses that it has had some metal in the oil since the swap, but doesn’t specify to what extent. He also states the front differential whines at certain speeds, and the steering wheel is off center. These issues are minor in the big picture if you decide the $10,000 price tag is worth it for this unique build. Check out the ad here.
Shawn Henry is a Texas native who has spent the majority of his career building and selling F-Bodies and Corvettes. Now studying journalism, he is taking a new direction with his love of GM Performance vehicles.