At SEMA this year, Chevrolet showed off plenty of high-performance on-road cars, but it also brought out several hardcore off-road concepts for those of us who like to get a little mud on the tires. But while trucks like the ZR2 Midnight Edition and the ZR2 AEV concept looked seriously cool, the most awesome truck on display was arguably the plain white ZR2 Racing Development concept. Why? Because you might actually be able to buy the parts.
The Racing Development truck straddles the line between the very capable ZR2 and a full-on off-road race truck. It gets 33-inch tires, a 1.5-inch body lift, wheel spacers, a steel driveshaft, a new air intake, and a performance exhaust, as well as skid plates that cover the differential and the rear shocks. Plus, thanks to the new high-articulation tie rod and suspension links, ball joints, and front half-shafts, you get 20 percent more suspension travel. Oh, and when it’s paired with the intake, that exhaust is said to add another 10 hp.
Chevrolet says it took the lessons it learned from off-road racing, as well as some of the parts it developed on an actual Colorado race truck to create the Racing Development truck. And while the parts haven’t already been greenlit for sale, it says part of the reason it brought this truck to SEMA is to gauge consumer interest. So if enough dealers say they want these accessories, they’ll go into production.
Chevrolet also has a record of actually putting SEMA concepts into production. They’re not nearly as interesting as the Racing Development truck, but the Red Line Camaro from SEMA 2015 turned into a line of production Red Line Editions earlier this year. If there was enough interest in a Camaro with an appearance package to justify a production run, surely there will be enough customers who like what Chevrolet did with the Racing Development truck to offer the parts through dealers.
Part of the issue is that it can be hard to predict the kind of interest there will be in OEM off-road parts. The ZR2 is already so capable, the PR team says they’re stealing buyers from the Jeep Wrangler more than any other vehicle. And while the team originally thought the ZR2 would be a niche vehicle, they say it now accounts for a full 10 percent of all Colorado sales. They think there’s interest in offering owners the option to make their trucks even more capable, but at this point, it could go either way.
Even completely stock, the ZR2 is already a more capable off-roader than most people will ever need. Chevrolet’s extremely proud of the fact that not only did the ZR2 conquer the Rubicon Trail, it also climbed Cadillac Hill in 90 minutes. And if the transmission hadn’t been stubbornly committed to maximizing fuel economy, it probably would have beaten both the Ford F-150 Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon in our three-way comparison test. Instead, it only beat the Raptor.
Maybe the market’s there for a ZR2 that’s even more capable, but if there isn’t, it would be understandable. On the other hand, Chevrolet’s already developed all the parts. It would be a shame not to see them made available. So if you like the Racing Development truck, go ahead and call your dealer. Tweet at Chevy. Write on its Facbeook wall. Comment on its Instagram posts. Let the folks in charge know you really like the idea of modifying your ZR2 with OEM-warrantied parts.
Because if Chevy can put the Red Line Camaro into production, surely it can justify selling a line of awesome off-road accessories for the ZR2.
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