This is TL;DR Uncut, a more detailed look at the title vehicle. For the original TL;DR Review, click here.
First, a little background. I remember my dad buying this truck new in January of 1999. He bought it in this configuration, with these (lack of) options, because it was cheap and because I wasn’t old enough to convince him otherwise. His old ‘86 Suburban could haul three families of people, but my brother and sister were heading to college and he wouldn’t need more passenger room anymore. He just wanted something reliable.
Oh, the irony. The Chevy became mine during my junior year of high school in the fall of ‘07, already having developed the infamous “ticking” noise and had its intake gasket replaced multiple times by 70,000 miles. For those who don’t know, this engine had a notoriously hard time sealing this area and keeping the coolant from leaking into the oil. This leads to some noises, especially during warm-up and intensified by cold starts.
Eventually, with about 80k on the clock, the engine suddenly started to sputter, lost oil pressure, and begged for relief. It eventually started again and I limped it home. The diagnosis was that the crank bearings went out, with excess wear being attributed to the coolant in the oil.
After 5 months and a full professional engine rebuild, the Chevy was back on the road. And ten thousand miles later, the tick was starting again. Since I was now a junior in college 200 miles from home, my amazing parents let me take my mom’s Honda back to school. Shortly after, they traded it in on a new car.
I apologize that this review is getting long and that the story is somewhat bland. Even reading it over now, I realize just how much of a spoiled shit I was. But I owe it to that truck to give it this time of reflection. In the years since, I haven’t taken the time to look back fondly and appreciate all it gave me. Despite what I have come to recall, it wasn’t always negative.
I had a truck as a teenager. I was able to safely travel in any storm. Snowy streets and parking lots became playgrounds. I learned to tow trailers with it, even if a fishing trip meant an awkward 3-men-in-a-truck cuddle session. I spent snow days pulling people out of wherever they were stuck. I pulled my derby car with it. I had the chance to experiment with chunky tires, car audio, and cat-back duals. I even drove it for a while with a 3" straight pipe that exited just rear of the passenger door. I had it covered in window marker paint by a cute blonde I had a crush on in high school. On my last day at said high school, I made a cloud of smoke in the parking lot out of nothing but rubber. I transported a half dozen 2-wheeled projects.
(Side note: hard tonneau covers are the worse thing. You really can’t fit anything tall in the bed without taking it off, which is a two person job. And expect to slam your head on it many times after the lift supports go out for the sixth time. Sorry, I said no more negativity but I had to get that out.)
As an added bonus, the design has aged actually well. I’m of the opinion that almost all new trucks today are gawdy, fat, ugly, rolling billboards that TOTALLY aren’t compensating for something... whereas this truck sort of represents the last of the utilitarian Chevys.
The styling was contemporary, conservative, and valued function over form. In 2003, the Silverado was given a (almost literal) facelift that attempted to show more aggression by pulling its headlights up and back like an aging celebrity. Gone were the days of smooth lines and honesty. Gone was the innocence and simplicity, and the worth of a hard day’s work.
I miss this truck for its resourcefulness. Yes, my current truck can hold 6 people comfortably, but any 4'x8' sheets of everything have to stick out of the back like a giant spoiler instead of fitting neatly between the wheel wells.
More so, I miss my Chevy because of what it represented. It was my youth. I miss being that naïve and care-free. I miss having that truck to stand out in the crowd of econoboxes that my peers drove. I miss that feeling that there is nothing that I won’t accomplish in life. Such is the spirit of the Silverado.