Slammed 2000 Chevy Tahoe Unlimited Restomod
If you have checked out Driving Line, any truck magazine, or social media in the last few years, chances are you have seen old school ‘OBS’ Chevrolet and GMC trucks, namely the 1988-1998 CK trucks becoming more and more popular. The nostalgia of the ‘90s era trucks and their sleek styling have made the single cab, short bed a hot commodity.
But most tend to forget that GM also produced extended cab, crew cab, dually, and SUV versions of all sizes. All on the same platform, and tons of custom parts that are available for these trucks, also work on the SUVs.
Starting off customizing a Tahoe for example, will not only get you more doors and seats, but often, they were better taken care of. More often than not, better optioned out than the single-cab trucks that were usually used as work trucks. And, due to demand, the SUVs might be cheaper to start off with to get that sport truck look.
In 1998, a new body-style truck and platform was introduced as a dramatic change and improvement over the older generations. But for duallys and SUVs, it was a slower rollout. While Chevrolet’s factory in Arlington, Texas switched one line over to start building the new model SUVs; the line that had previously built the Cadillac Escalade and Yukon Denali was set to build a couple of special editions to finish off the OBS body style with a bang. They produced 8,900 Tahoe Limited SUVs for the year 2000. (A 4WD special edition Z71 Tahoe was made as well).
Tahoe SS Concept
For GM, the 2000 Tahoe Limited wasn’t just a last-minute venture, throwing on whatever parts were still lying around the factory; the SUV was based on a Tahoe SS concept designed in 1996. It's not known why Chevrolet didn’t produce this SS, as it had seen success with their iconic Impala SS models. Especially considering the increasing popularity of SUVs. It likely had a little something to do with insurance companies raising rates on anything deemed sporty. So like most concepts, the final result was toned down a bit.
The front bumper on the Limited, instead of having stylish air vents seen on the SS concept, was the old diesel truck bumper but outfitted with a set of fog lights in the openings. The only color option was Onyx Black, while the SS concept was built with striking blue paint and had custom Budnik billet wheels. The production version did see larger (16-inch) aluminum wheels from Ronal however.
Everything else, including the ground effects side skirts, lack of trim, and upgraded interior was kept similar. And while it's all style on the outside, the suspension and drivetrain were actually upgraded as well, however so slightly for the time. The platform used was the same as the Tahoes GM built for the government and police departments, dubbed the ‘Police Package.’
Compared to modern standards, and the customizing planned on this Tahoe, the “upgraded suspension” was very tame on the police package Tahoe. The suspension was an inch lower, the brakes were slightly larger, and heavier-duty anti-sway bars, performance shocks, and upgraded rear end were featured for better handling for cops on the road. Added oil and transmission cooling systems were put in place to help in high-speed chases, and there was a 130-mph speedo with no governor.
Of course on this Tahoe, all of that old suspension would be tossed aside in favor of going even lower and including more modern performance and handling with a 4/4 Belltech lowering kit, performance shocks, and anti-sway bar.
The Tahoe Unlimited came about an inch lower than other editions, but this was hardly low enough, and honestly, no one could really tell it was lower than standard versions. The performance factory shocks were also pretty mushy by this time. A modern upgrade and lowered stance were in order. The Tahoe, thanks to OBS Headquarters’ Mark Oja saw a 4/4 drop from Belltech Suspension.
They installed a set of Belltech 2-inch drop spindles and Belltech Pro Series coil springs up front for a 4-inch total drop. Their Street Performance drop shocks also provided a better ride and handling on the lowered SUV. While we were at it, we picked up all new control arms, tie rods and brakes from Summit Racing to make sure all of the new suspension would be solid for years to come.
While a standard drop for an OBS truck is a 4/6, the Tahoe features dearched leaf springs and sits lower already compared to a truck. So a 4-inch drop in the rear using drop shackles and hangers was installed so that a notch wouldn’t be required. Being that the Tahoe has 4-inch side skirts, I didn’t want to go much lower and run into any issues cruising around town.
Retro Wheels & Performance Tires
When it then came time to throw the wheels and tires on, I lucked out, seriously. The Tahoe came with a set of rad, old-school billet 17-inch wheels. While modern standards would call for 18s or 20s on an OBS like this, I liked the throwback styling of the billet Colorado Custom Blackhawk wheels. But, like the rest of the Tahoe, they were heavily oxidized and needed some repair. The wheels were fixed and made true by Jaime Silva at Jason’s Wheel Repair before being sandblasted and sprayed in Titanium Cerakote for a modern finish on these classic wheels. No shiny chrome or polished wheels here.
The wheels are 17x8-inch all the way around, so when it came to tires I wanted to retain a decent sidewall but balance that out with a mild fender gap and some performance for the now even ‘sportier’ SUV. A set of 235/60R17 Nitto NT421Q premier all-season SUV tires were installed. This size was selected for a squared-off sidewall look so that rubbing wouldn’t occur, and brought the overall diameter down about an inch and a half from the factory, which dropped the Tahoe down even more and gave it the right amount of fender gap for its stance.
The Nitto NT21Q tires have been just like the Tahoe, a combination of comfort and performance. Perfect for cruising around town comfortably, and taking canyon turns at a bit higher speed without worrying about losing traction in the rain.
With the Tahoe SS and eventually the Tahoe Limited model, Chevrolet was taking cues from the sport truck pioneers like Boyd Coddington, who sought to color match all of the elements to the body color to not have any piece interrupt your eye as it would drive by. In this vein, the Tahoe Limited came straight from the factory with black color-matched bumpers and grill.
Chevrolet thought their 2000 Tahoe Limited was a sporty, and luxurious SUV at the top end of the spectrum at the time, and it was, for being built well over 20 years ago. While this Tahoe had fairly low mileage for its age, it had seen better days on a superficial level; the black paint was neglected, faded, and had tons of fallout contamination on it. The body also had a few dozen door dings and dents, and the interior, while all intact had not been taken care of either. So a full paint correction, restoration, and repair were first in line before adding some custom touches.
Using the full line of Auto Sauce detailing products, including performing a full paint correction on the black paint helped bring it back to life. On the side of the Tahoe however, water spots from sprinklers seemed to be baked into the paint so color sanding, buffing, and polishing were needed to get the paint back to a better-than-factory finish.
Unfortunately, on this Tahoe, most of the damage was a dented front bumper and cracked grille shell. Wanting to keep with the theme but switch things up a bit, I replaced the classic Chevrolet bar grill with one from a GMC truck in order to have a large billet grill insert that was Cerakote’d to match the wheels. The faded plastic headlights were replaced with glass Spyder Co lights and LED parking lights were installed. The Tahoe Unlimited bumper was repaired and the license plate holes were welded up and the peak of the bumper was refined before the factory fog lights were smoked and mounted back inside.
Out back, the old tail lights were replaced with modern smoked LED lights to better blend in.
The Tahoe Limited had no roof rack or side moldings like the other trucks and SUVs, just a few badges and a vinyl silver and red (or magenta after 20 years) pinstripe going down the side. All of these were removed and Tom McWeeney from Kustoms Inc. laid down a more complimentary set of grey and gold striping along the side, adding a pinstriping motif to the rear barn doors. Being that this Tahoe goes beyond being just Limited now, new resin emblems were designed to reflect the new name of the now Tahoe Unlimited.
Old School Luxury, Modern Electronics
The Tahoe Limited’s interior came fully optioned out, with pretty much everything that has long since been standard, or outdated in modern cars. In the late 1990s, an AM/FM radio, tape deck, and CD player were top-of-the-line entertainment for a car or SUV. Airbags, power windows, and locks, and even dual A/C had also become commonplace. However, the two-tone leather seats and heated/power seats were definitely luxury upgrades at the time. How else would a dealer expect to sell a decade-old SUV when a brand-new platform was on its way to the lot?
Once the seats, carpet, and panels were cleaned up using Auto Sauce products, the first thing was to take out the old tape deck. Apple CarPlay was a must and while the factory radio was only designed for its smaller DIN and a half head unit, a conversion was done in order to fit a more standard Double DIN head unit. A set of Powerbass XL speakers now fills out the SUV with proper sound waves.
Aside from these audio upgrades, some LED lighting, and wood grain accents; the interior was kept fairly stock and in great condition for its age. My goal in resurrecting this special edition Tahoe was to restore it back to its original state, and then modernize it using what custom parts and styling might have been available at the time but using current techniques.
|2000 Chevrolet Tahoe Limited
|Jason Mulligan/Auto Revolution
|5.7L Vortec V8, K&N Cold Air Intake, Tahoe Police Package
|Belltech 2-inch Drop Spindles, Belltech Pro 2-inch Lowering Coil Springs, Belltech Anti-Sway Bar, Moog Suspension Control Arms, Belltech Street Performance Dropped Shocks, Hawk Brakes
|Belltech 4-inch Drop Shackles & Hangers, Belltech Street Performance Dropped Shocks
|17x8-inch Colorado Custom Blackhawk Wheels, Titanium Cerakote
|235/60R17 Nitto NT421Q Premier All-Season SUV Tires
|Smoothed Front Bumper with Smoked Fog Lights, GMC Grille Conversion, Titanium Cerakote T-Rex Billet Grille Insert, Pinstriping, Custom Emblems, Paint Restoration by Auto Sauce, Paintless Dent Removal by Simply Dents
|Amerilite Smoke LED Tail Lights & Third Brake Light, Spyder Co Glass Headlights, Smoked Fog Lights, LED Marker Lights
|Double DIN Head Unit Conversion, Wood Grain Accents, Powerbass Speakers
|Belltech Suspension, Summit Racing, Cerakote, OBS Headquarters, Powerbass, Auto Sauce, Kustoms Inc, Marcel Venable, OBS Headquarters, Jason’s Wheel Repair, Eddie Locs, Kolortech Visuals, Simply Dents, Relaxed Atmosphere