Payne: The 1,000-hp Chevy Suburban mega-ute is here

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Move over 700-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Ford Mustang GT500. Here come the 1,000-horse mega-utes.

Car-mod shop Specialty Vehicle Engineering this week announced its 2019 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs — the first, 1,000-horsepower, three-row SUVs. That's five-door, three-row family utes with four-digit horsepower — or 30 percent more than America’s most storied muscle coupes.

The Chevy SVEs follow the 1,012-horsepower, two-row, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk from Hennessey Performance Engineering as utes have joined sports cars in the horsepower wars.

"The SVE SUVs are for customers who want to have something different than what's in their neighbor's garages," says SVE president and founder Ed Hamburger. "Size matters."

A veteran aftermarket performance engineer, Hamburger cut his teeth in drag racing and NASCAR before going into the specialty cars business last decade. While not a household name like Detroit's Lingenfelter or Roush, Hamburger's companies claim status as GM's No. 1 specialty carmaker and have pushed out an eye-popping 65,000 GM-mods in the last two decades.

SVE also sells the Yenko Camaro and Corvette — 1,000-horsepower versions of Chevy's iconic sports cars (licensing the famous Yenko muscle car badge of 1960-70s fame) so you can have a diverse garage of four-digit horsepower beasts. Other SVE products include 800-horse upgrades to the Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and the Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV.

Like Roush and its Ford partnership, SVE's mega-utes can be ordered at participating local dealerships. Chevy ships your SUV to Tom's River, New Jersey, where Hamburger and his mad scientists work their magic. The finished vehicle is then sent to the dealer for delivery. 

On top of the cost of a new, $51,455 Tahoe/Suburban, SVE's so-called Stage II High Ouput Series, 1,000-horse package will set customers back a healthy $66,995.

At its core is a custom-built version of Chevy’s monster 6.2-liter V-8 engine. Hamburger bores it out to 6.8-liters, then stuffs it with a forged steel crankshaft, forged aluminum pistons, and super-sized supercharger. For less-deep pockets, SVE makes a Stage I, 810-horsepower version available for a mere $44,995.

Both versions are warrantied for three years/36,000 miles or until it sucks dry the world's oil reserves.

Hamburger leaves performance spec numbers to the nut magazines, but says production tires limit top speed to 155 mph. Throw on performance-rated rubber and he estimates it will hit 180 mph before aerodynamics cry foul. That should get the family to the cabin up north — where the mega-ute can pull stumps out of the ground with its 875 pound-feet of torque.

The sleeker Yenko Camaro and Corvette mods are 200 mph-plus capable. SVE's V-8 mills meet U.S. (and Michigan) emissions standards, but not the more stringent standards set by California and 13 other states.

To distinguish it from the average, 355-horse Chevy hauler, the SVE comes with dual, stainless-steel exhaust tips blowing out the side, 1,000-hp badging on the hood and tailgate, and special embroidered headrests. 

For those concerned this is too stealthy, options include 22-inch chrome alloy wheels, satin-finish clear-coat paint wrap, and a suspension package that will lower the steel rhino two inches.

If GM products aren't your bag, check out HSV — Hamburger’s Specialty Vehicles — which makes high-powered Jeep and Dodge mutants as well.

For more information visit Specialty Vehicle Engineering at

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.