On the Road
A twist of the key reveals a much more aggressive snarl from the 4.3L V-6. The Gibson exhaust works as advertised, keeping the noise out of the cockpit, resulting in a deep, smooth growl from the subtle polished tailpipe. The second thing you notice is this Blazer zips that fancy tach and speedo along as if there's a V-8 underhood--and a strong one at that. Acceleration is more Mustang GT than SUV with 5.9-sec dashes to 60 mph. The added power makes passing and moving through traffic a snap.

The handling of this Blazer is really no harsher than stock. Granted, it won't corner as well as a slammed, fender-rubbing sleekster, but it holds the road much better, with far less body roll, than stock. Plus, it'll still go over the river and through the woods without scraping its nose on bottle caps and discarded pennies.

The braking also has improved significantly as the fade-resistant drilled rotors bring all that weight to a halt with much less drama. In all, this Blazer more than makes up for the lack of a V-8 option enjoyed by the competitors in Explorers, Cherokees, Durangos, etc. Additionally, most of these parts work even better on the S-10 and Sonoma pickups, given their weight advantage compared to the SUVs. Although this took quite a bit of time and effort, we're enjoying the result. We even had an '02 TrailBlazer driver snicker at us from behind the wheel of his meaty new inline-six. We snickered back and left him at the stoplight in our blown 4.3.

4.3L V-6 Expertise
One of the gurus of the Vortec 4300 is Bill Mach of Mach Performance outside Detroit. Having developed performance applications for a variety of automotive and marine engines, Bill was nearly overwhelmed with interest in the 4.3L block once word got out that he had a full line of products for it.

TRUCK TREND: How strong is the 4.3 motor?
BILL MACH: We've found it to be very stout. Remember, this is basically the 5.7L V-8 with two cylinders lopped off. Its cast-iron block is strong enough to handle turbo or supercharging up to 350 hp without modifying internal components.

TT: What do you have available for the 4.3 performance-wise?
BILL MACH: We have a full line of engine components--cams, pistons, rods, rocker arms, etc. We also do cylinder boring, valve jobs, computer-flash reprogramming, and a great deal of custom work. We are the designer and exclusive dealer for the ATI Procharger intercooled supercharger system for the 4.3 engine, and we recently introduced an intercooled turbocharger package as well as complete nitrous kits.

TT: Is this equipment applicable to all the models across the GM line with the 4.3 motor?
BILL MACH: Yes. Although there are some variables from year to year, we can offer just about anything a customer would want, from mild to wild. This applies to '96-'02 S-10 and Sonoma pickups as well as the Blazer, Jimmy, Bravada, and Envoy variations (two- or four-door and two- or four-wheel drive). We can even build you a 400-hp Astro van.