Performance Road Test: Special-Order Silverado RST
Factory-backed hot rod looks like a player
From the August, 2005 issue of Truck Trend
By Mark Williams
Photography by Brian Vance, John Kiewicz
There are literally hundreds of companies that make performance parts for Chevy Silverados. In fact, all the big pickup manufacturers have come up with their own performance parts divisions to allow dealers to cash in on some of the customizing/performance dollars being spent by new- and used-truck owners.
Divisions like Mopar Performance, SVO, and TRD were created specifically to keep those parts compatible with existing engines, fitments, and quality concerns. And GM got smart, too: If people are going to modify their new trucks and SUVs anyway, why not get more involved with companies that help their buyers customize and upgrade their products? This exact partnership model works well in the conversion-van industry where GM, Ford, and Dodge each typically partner up with a single manufacturer to keep track of quality and warranty issues. That's where Regency Inc., out of Texas, comes in. With consulting help from Jon Moss, past special-projects czar for GM's "toy box," Regency offers an ordering package to all GM dealerships; Regency installs it on the vehicle and ships anywhere in the U.S.
The limited-production Silverado RST is based off the current-model rear-drive regular-cab shortbed pickup. Regency installs a cold-air induction system, replaces the spark plug wires, adds a K&N air filter, and fits ceramic-coated headers and a stunningly resonant power-flow exhaust. In addition, it fits a Ground Force suspension (lowering ride height by an inch), 20-inch aluminum wheels, and 265/50R20 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires--and those are just the performance modifications. There are another 12 interior and exterior choices that can be made, from shifter knobs, to pedal styles, to rollpan choices, to billet inserts--all by checking the box, and all of it comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty.
Anyone can walk into a GM dealership and let the salesperson know they're interested in the specific outfitters code. Regency will have some ordering requirements as to what model and packages to get. A new truck is then sent directly to Regency from the plant, where it'll be built to order. Regency acts as the warehouse for the JBA headers, Ground Force suspension parts, Baer brakes, and all the other pieces that go into the setup. Right now, it's working only with regular-cab shortbeds to keep weight down, but that means the largest engine is the smallest V-8 offered by GM trucks--the 285-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8. From our butt dynos, we'd say the headers, induction, and exhaust mods tip the package just over 300 horses.
At the track, it was certainly nothing to write home about, with a 0-to-60-mph time in the mid-sevens. Braking was only respectable at 138 feet from 60 mph, but feel and grip of the system makes it seem much more confident than the number implies.
During our time behind the wheel around town, we found the RST lacked the typical clunks and rattles we've experienced in other modified pickups. The compact size and stance of the RST, combined with the 20-inch rims and color-matched bumpers and grille, make it stand out. We were constantly flagged down by fellow commuters and given thumbs-up or approving nods. Our only complaint is that without a supercharger, the smallish V-8 quickly runs out of breath. The rumble and burble of the exhaust off idle is almost hypnotic, but not overpowering.
20-inch Chip Foose-designed...
20-inch Chip Foose-designed alloy wheels make room for bigger rotors and calipers. Vented and drilled to dissipate heat and gases, four-wheel discs use twin-pot calipers painted high-gloss red.
We were running with the windows down--even in bad weather--just to hear the exhaust roar during our green-light takeoffs. Some steering-ratio adjustments could have been made, too. Overall transmission feel is good, but the 2-to-3 shift is difficult. As cool as the cue-ball Hurst-style shifter is, it runs to the cold and stiff side when we wanted a warm third-gear embrace. Understanding the complexities involved in swapping in a Corvette T56 transmission (oh, that would be sweet), the make-believe looks are easy to deal with. As to cost, final pricing is left up to the dealerships, but figure the average transaction price for one of these to be around $32,000. Not bad: you couldn't buy each of the parts and pieces for that price, let alone have them installed (and remember, these are backed by a full warranty). In case something does happen, repairs can be made at any GM dealership, or the truck will be fully serviced at Regency headquarters--a decent deal when you consider the Silverado SS RWD (see the full story on the Silverado SS in this issue) is just a tick under $37,000. But hurry if you want an RST. As GM pushes to get the new GMT900 Silverados, Suburbans, and Tahoes ready for a 2007 launch, the current agreement between GM and Regency can only last so long.
If the shifter ball looks...
If the shifter ball looks familiar, it's because the manual arm and cue ball are meant to look like the original Hurst shifters of the musclecar era.
Clutch, brake, and gas pedals...
Clutch, brake, and gas pedals are designed to resemble early-1970s Cheyenne pickup accessories and are part of the Deluxe package.
Exterior stripes are reminiscent...
Exterior stripes are reminiscent of early 1970s Camaro Z28 paint packages: thick stripes on the hood, surrounded by thin outer lines.
The Tahoe Too
Regency also is working the SUV side of the street. As Jon Moss shows, Regency will outfit a new Tahoe (called the Limited) with all the performance goodies: brakes, suspension, headers, air induction, exhaust, wheels, and more. As you might expect, pricing gets steep quickly. Figure fully loaded prices here pushing $50,000. But you can get this in Chevy or GMC configurations (just like the RST) and order a nav system as well. Done in all black with a set of chrome 20s, this Tahoe will have the neighbor kids watching you roll down the boulevard.