250 kW and 470 Nm from a bakkie is an awesome amount of power in standard form, but can you imagine what happens when the tuning experts, Steves Auto Clinic, work their magic on this V8 monster? It turns simply brutal!
But before we even get into the 'nuts and bolts' of how the Chev UTE SS was morphed into a brute, a few points need mentioning. First and most importantly, this UTE lives up in the rarefied air of the Reef, which in simple terms means that is loses about 18 percent of its power.
So the starting platform is all of a sudden not all that impressive, the equivalent of probably an entire 1 300 cc engine is lost, with the vehicle only now pushing out around 195 kW and 390 Nm. Then you have the fact that this manual model has exceptionally long gearing married to no traction control and a 210 km/h speed limiter.
This results in massive wheelspin off the line and a limiter that comes into play in 4th gear in about one km of tar. So adding ultra expensive turbos or superchargers to the UTE is not really a practical everyday option for most customers out there. After all, who wants a vehicle that requires high-octane racing fuel in order to run at peak condition and then can only be realistically and safely used for limited purposes due to the aforementioned traction and limiter issues?
So it was with this in mind that we took the UTE to Henk Viljoen's SAC Vanderbijlpark branch to apply the age-old principle of getting as much air as possible in and out of the engine as quickly as possible in order to see usable gains in horsepower. The core of this upgrade was to remove the cylinder heads and give them the SAC Engineering gasflow treatment. The cam profiles were then slightly altered (on the auto derivatives the cams are left alone) to specifically match the increased airflow requirements, as were the valves increased in size to further aid in the breathing process.
Finally, finishing off the upgrade was a set of Wildcat performance branch manifolds coupled to a dual 63 mm free flow exhaust all breathing through a Sportflo performance airfilter. As all was deemed to be acceptable in the electronics department, the standard ignition timing and fueling parameters were left as is and the vehicle can conveniently run on normal 93 or
95 octane pump fuel.
Strapping the big burly 5.7 litre on the dyno saw the power and torque increase by around 20%. Figures that now only bring the UTE back up to level playing terms on the Reef when compared to the cars that live at the oxygen rich coast. Can you imagine how good this V8 motor would perform at the coast when fettled by SAC?
Although all one has to do is page through a few car related magazines to see that the entire V8 Lumina range has all sorts of quoted power and performance figures, some of them at the Reef, some of them at the coast, but the big question is, ?Which figures are real and have these vehicles actually been tested and with what equipment?? Never mind that this all serves to confuse the customer, and with so many questions on our mind, we decided to test the UTE in stock standard form first and then re-test the same vehicle once it had undergone its transformation in order to bring you the real world driving truth.
Make no mistake; the standard UTE is no slouch when measured correctly with world recognised Vbox Racelogic timing equipment. Returning sprint times of 0-100 km/h in 6.66 seconds, a quarter mile in 14.73 seconds and going on to run into the aforementioned speed limiter of 210 km/h at the 1 km mark.
Taking care to regulate wheelspin as much as the skinny standard 17 inch street tyres will allow, the SAC UTE peeled off a 0-100 km/h in a blistering 5.91 seconds and a quarter mile in 13.98 seconds and ran onto the limiter well before the end of 1km when re-tested. To put this boldly into perspective, the 'Robot Kings', EVO IX and WRX STI are both slightly slower in the sprinting department!
What is almost more impressive about this is that when allowed to run past the speed limiter the SAC UTE covers the 1km stretch in 25 seconds at 214 km/h and does not stop until around 270 km/h. The biggest culprit in stopping this rapid rate of progress is the soft tounneau cover that buckles under the wind pressure and becomes a huge air brake. Still, I can't imagine any other 'bakkies' running with a SAC UTE; in fact I can't imagine many sports cars running with the SAC UTE either.
Steves Auto Clinic branches are situated countrywide, so pay them a visit and tailor a package to suit your budget or take a whirlwind drive through their comprehensive website at www.steves.co.za and for only R24 995 for the full house treatment that includes speed limiter removal you too can have yourself a reliable sports car bashing machine that trades none of its qualities of durability and fuss free power liberation in the quest for more power.
Before and After Tests SAC Chev UTE SS
Acceleration - Standard - SAC
0-60 km/h 3.63 secs - 2.93 secs
0-80 km/h 5.17 secs - 4.47 secs
0-100 km/h 6.66 secs - 5.91 secs
Quarter mile 14.73 secs - 13.98 secs
1 km 26.02 secs - 25.29 secs
Top speed 210 km/h (limited) 270 km/h