In a sea of prerunners consisting of Ford Rangers, Toyota Tacomas, and even Ford Explorers, it is not often many who choose a Chevy S10 as a starting platform to build upon. But we aren’t talking about the S10; we are talking about Daniel Peterson’s 1992 Oldsmobile Bravada, the S10 Blazer’s cousin. This garage-built all-wheel drive V8 Oldsmobile Bravada prerunner is unsuspectingly incredible. From the torsion mid-travel kit upfront to the Mezzanine long travel kit in the rear, it drew inspiration from the factory S10 Baja efforts nearly three decades ago. It may not be the fanciest truck out there, but it sure is an unassuming great time to show up in the desert and surprise everyone because this is a ripper.
What is an Oldsmobile Bravada anyway? Well, it is essentially a 4-door GMC Typhoon without a turbo. (Yes, the same chassis as the GMC Syclone that was quicker than a Ferrari 348 in 1991.) This was Daniel’s seventh S10-based project, as he is a true enthusiast for the Chevy platform; I am not sure why because there is almost no aftermarket support for the Bravada. He must really like making things difficult for himself or really loves fabrication since everything on it is custom. We are all about unique and interesting builds, and this is definitely interesting.
The Championship winning S10 “Little Mac” was a huge inspiration for the build. If you were around off-road racing in the 90s, you will remember this truck; we did a feature on it a few years back; you can read about it here. Designed by Bryan Kudela and built by Jerry McDonald for the famed Team MacPherson. It went on to win over eight consecutive championships throughout its tenure racing.
When it comes to the front suspension, Daniel kept it simple, utilizing other GM factory parts to achieve decent travel numbers. He built a custom mid-travel kit that utilizes stiffer torsion bars from the 4-door S10, making it 2 inches wider and moving the front axles from a ZR2 S10 3 inches forward. Paired up with limit straps and a King 2.5 Bypass shock, he is able to pull 11″ of wheel travel.
But the rear is where the party happens.
Daniel completely back halved the Bravada, cutting the frame and floor out just past the driver seat, which integrates into the roll cage. A Mezzanine arm configuration with a Fox 2.5 Bypass and 2.5 Coilover from a Yamaha YXZ. While this configuration not only frees up space in the rear, it also allows better weight transfer to the rear for all 20″ of wheel travel.
Since the Bravada shares the AWD transfer case as the GMC Syclone Typhoon, it had a 65/33 rear-drive bias and viscous clutch that allows the all-wheel-drive to stay engaged without putting stress on the front differential. So you can be hitting whoops and not be blowing diffs with the AWD system. This is important because Daniel ditched the 4.3L V6 and shoehorned a 5.3L V8 with a Holly Terminator kit to power it, making an assumed 310HP according to the old butt dyno.
You must be reading this and be thinking to yourself, “11 inches of wheel travel isn’t much; my Raptor has 14 inches,” and you’d be right.. Except this Bravada weighs sub 3500 pounds, and your Raptor weighs 5700 pounds. With the V8 power, combined with the AWD system and being so lightweight, you have a pretty fun truck that is nimble enough to get the job done. It gets up on top of the whoops with ease and stays on top of them, and just when you think you are going to take a big hit, it floats over it effortlessly.
This Bravada prerunner is badass, that is certain. From the awesome digital gauges to the Mezzanine rear suspension and the simple fact that it is an Oldsmobile truly makes it one of a kind. Daniel isn’t finished with it yet either, as it is still a work in progress as he mentioned that he is going to keep it a bit ratty because he enjoys surprising people with it. He is getting ready to throw in a LQ9 V8 that will make in the neighborhood of 500 HP. But with all that power, he will be building a new long travel kit to keep up with the rear end. Regardless it is refreshing to see a prerunner build that uses out-of-the-box thinking to accomplish the same end result: go fast through the desert. Sometimes you don’t need a fancy $150k build to go out and do that. Sometimes function over form isn’t always a bad thing.
Chassis: 1992 Oldsmobile Bravada
Weight: 3500 ish LBS
Engine: Chevy 5.3L V8
Fuel Cell: Stock Gas Tank 19 Gallons
Transfer case: BW4472 Transfer Case
Tires: 35″ Mark Ma Dakar Rally
Wheels: American Racing Wheels
Front Suspension: King 2.5 Bypass shocks and Torsion Bars 11″ wheel travel
Rear Suspension: Fox 2.5 Coilover and Fox Bypass Shocks, 20″ wheel travel Mezzanine Arms
Axles: Chevy ZR2 front Axles and S10 Zr2 10 bolt rear end
Steering: Stock Steering wheel
Radio: What Radio?
Navigation: Google Maps