One Wicked Truck: This 1957 3100 is LT4-equipped
WORDS: DAN HODGDON
PHOTOS: LUCAS PRIAMO and NATE LIGHT
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David Kinnison refers to the Chevrolet Performance LT4 crate engine* in his 1957 Chevrolet 3100 as “a monster.” That seems like an apt description.
“The LT4 creates a lot of horsepower and the response is just amazing,” Kinnison said during November’s Goodguys Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I think the LT is where it’s at now.”
David Kinnison utilizes a Chevrolet Performance LT4 Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System in his 1957 Chevrolet 3100.
The truck itself is a long way from where it started. In 2006, Kinnison found the vehicle in someone’s backyard. It was missing the bed, the grass was above the roof and there was lots of rust to be fixed. Still, Kinnison and his friend Dennis Carrier finished the project in 2008 utilizing a crate LS2 power plant. However, the project soon went on the back burner as Kinnison shifted his attention to a 1964 Nova.
Then a year and a half ago, thanks to a relationship with Chevrolet Performance, he installed an LT4 crate engine in the 3100. The truck, fittingly painted in a PPG color called “Hot Rod Red,” has been a mainstay at various events throughout the Southwest. In fact, at Goodguys Scottsdale it was an integral part of the Chevrolet Performance display.
“It’s definitely not a trailer queen,” Kinnison said.
The LT4 crate power plant* in the engine bay.
The 6.2L LT4 under the hood is factory-rated at 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. It features a 1.7L Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger that spins at up to 20,000 rpm and generates upwards of nine pounds of boost. The power plant also utilizes a cast-aluminum block with six-bolt, cross-bolted main caps and forged internals for strength and durability.
Kinnison is a fan of the LT4’s direct-injection setup and high-pressure fuel pump for enhanced fuel flow as well.
Kinnison’s LT4 crate engine is mated to a SuperMatic 4L75-E four-speed automatic transmission with a 650 lb.-ft. torque limit. The tranny is designed for applications where space is an issue, making it a perfect choice for an older truck. The 3100’s previous incarnation had been equipped with a 700R4, and Kinnison didn’t want to cut up the floorboard to make another option fit. So, he simply chose another four-speed automatic.
Kinnison used many General Motors parts in the build to help ease installation.
The transmission-and-powertrain setup came as part of a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System. Dozens of factory-matched options are available and come with a crate engine, transmission, controllers, torque converter (for automatic transmissions) and supporting installation kits.
Kinnison used a variety of additional factory parts to further ease the installation, including the front drive system for the power steering, alternator and air conditioning.
“Everything lined up perfectly and went in nice and smooth,” Kinnison said. “Getting all the stuff from GM is the only way to do it because it just takes all the guesswork out of everything.”
Kinnison uses the exhaust manifolds from the LT4 crate engine, and the exhaust is spent via a custom setup that runs through a set of Dynamat mufflers.
The 3100 is on its original frame but utilizes a C4 Corvette suspension.
The truck remains on its original frame as it came from the factory and it is all Chevrolet underneath – but with a twist.
While it’s not uncommon for chassis builders to use C4 Corvette suspension components in their aftermarket offerings, those parts are built new. Kinnison opted to purchase a fourth-generation Corvette and transfer both its original suspension parts and brakes to his truck.
The body work, which included filling all gaps, took around a year to complete. Kinnison sprayed the PPG Hot Rod Red paint himself and also added a Bedwood bed liner. The truck rides on Kumho tires with Boss wheels.
The interior is tan-and-ivory leather with elements of suede in the seats. C&L Upholstery in Tempe, Arizona, did the honors. The interior includes a Glide Engineering seat, a custom stereo and electric windows.
“Everything was done in my shop except for the interior,” Kinnison said. “I just don't know how to sew.”
The interior is tan-and-ivory leather, and the seats incorporate suede elements.
Kinnison hails from Safford, Arizona, but has now lived in Phoenix for more than 40 years. He’s a longtime Chevrolet fan, a tradition passed down from his father. His natural talent for building vehicles has always been apparent, even when he purchased his first car at the age of 13.
“I had to buy one myself and it didn't run,” he said. “I had to make it run and I've been doing that ever since.”
Today he owns a shop called Ultimate Imports in Tempe where he works on import cars, but the business is full of American muscle, too. He also works one day a week with Klein Engines, whose proprietor, Robert King, works closely with Chevrolet Performance.
Kinnison is a longtime Chevrolet fan.
In addition to Kinnison’s LT4-powered truck, he continues to own the impressive 1964 Nova. He also helped a friend with a 1955 Cameo that served as the sister truck to his 3100 before it was sold.
And as for that Hot Rod Red, LT4-equipped monster of a pickup, he said, “It handles like a go-kart.”
Clearly, he’s having a great time with all that power and performance.
Keep watching The BLOCK for more Chevrolet Performance builds from a wide variety of shows and events.
*Because of its effect on a vehicle’s emissions performance, this engine is intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. This engine is designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public roads, streets or highways. Installation or use of this engine on a vehicle operated on public roads, streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, and state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.