Chevy Tahoe ‘Thunder’ Has Lived an Award-Winning Life

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1996 Chevy Tahoe

Nineties show trucks like this Tahoe were once stowed away and forgotten. But now they’re making a comeback.

Ever wonder what happens to show trucks from the past? Most often, they wind up parted out or relegated to storage for decades. But this particular 1996 Chevy Tahoe, otherwise known as the “Cragar Tahoe Thunder,” is still around and kicking. Even though it changed hands multiple times over the years. Now, it’s destined to find another owner yet again ahead of Mecum’s Louisville auction on September 7-8.

By now, you’re probably thinking to yourself that this Chevy Tahoe looks familiar. And it probably does. Because the stunning ’90s custom was featured in Truckin’ Magazine a whopping three times. But it was originally built for the 2000 SEMA show by Cragar to promote their line of XLS truck and SUV wheels. From there, an online parts retailer purchased it and gave it away to one lucky customer.

1996 Chevy Tahoe

Fast forward to today, and this wild Chevy Tahoe hasn’t lost any of that original luster. But it has gained a 520 hp 502 big block V8 under the hood, along with a built 4L80E transmission. Breathing through Borla headers, a 3-inch exhaust, and Dynamax mufflers, the big ‘ute now sounds as good as it looks.

The rest of this Tahoe consists of things you’d expect from a decades-old show rig. Wild custom paint and graphics, air ride suspension, and of course, Cragar wheels. There’s a massive SoundWerks stereo to bang out the tunes, along with lots of custom interior trim to remind you you’re driving something special.

1996 Chevy Tahoe

Show trucks from the ’90s were once considered out of style and crushable. But in the last year or so, we’re seeing a resurgence in interest surrounding these cool rigs. Most likely because those of us who drooled over them 20 years ago now have the means to go out and buy one. And that, friends, is enough to keep these magazine cover trucks alive for years to come!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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