Some­thing you don’t nec­es­sar­ily con­sider when you de­cide to take the wrenches to your rig is how easy it is to go over the top. Ob­vi­ously, we’ve seen our share of mod­i­fied diesels and then some. And we’ve come to re­al­ize “over the top” can take many forms. Go over the top per­for­mance­wise and you’ll be pick­ing en­gine or trans­mis­sion in­ter­nals out of an oil slick on the road­way some­time soon. Go over the top aes­thet­i­cally and you lose all your friends; your en­e­mies laugh at you and steal your girl.

Hav­ing said all that, we think we can all agree Jeremy Pow­ell’s third-gen Duramax Sil­ver­ado would fall squarely in the taste­ful cat­e­gory, both in terms of per­for­mance and aes­thet­ics. It’s clear he had a solid plan for this build, and he stuck to it. Not at all bor­ing, not too wild, it toes the line of “just right.” Pow­ell, of Rigley, Idaho, is a born truck en­thu­si­ast. He pre­vi­ously owned a built 2008 Duramax, and when that rig grew long in the tooth and he needed some new heavy metal, Pow­ell stuck with Chevro­let and ac­quired this Ocean Blue 2015 3500 HD. “I love trucks,” Pow­ell says sim­ply. The build, which was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Pow­ell and his good friend Brent Willsey at Power Tech Diesel in nearby Idaho Falls, took place over a pe­riod of two months.


To jack up the front end while main­tain­ing the clean look Pow­ell was af­ter, the front sus­pen­sion was sub­jected to a 6-inch non-tor­sion drop lift kit from Cog­nito Mo­tor­sports. This kit in­cor­po­rates an in­te­grated skid plate that dou­bles as a sub­frame con­nec­tor, help­ing to po­si­tion the lower con­trol arms and front diff. CV axle an­gles are also taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, prov­ing that Cog­nito en­gi­neers did their home­work when work­ing this up­grade.

The rear is sus­pended with Deaver leafs that fea­ture Amer­i­can-made 5160 spring­steel con­struc­tion with heavy duty bolt-through re­tainer clips and poly anti-fric­tion in­ter­me­di­ate pads for quiet op­er­a­tion. Hav­ing made springs since the days when

horse­less car­riages first be­came a thing, Deaver is an old-school brand if ever there was one. The dampers were up­graded at all four cor­ners with Fox 2.0 shocks with re­spect to Cog­nito’s rec­om­mended length. Cog­nito trac­tion bars are af­fixed to main­tain leaf spring in­tegrity and en­sure the Duramax’s en­hanced power out­put— see be­low—goes to the ground. The rear sus­pen­sion is also bol­stered with Pacbrake AMP air sus­pen­sion, so haul­ing a load of what­ever won’t be­come an is­sue for Pow­ell.

The height gains be­tween the raised wheel wells and the wheel hubs al­low Pow­ell to run a mon­ster com­bi­na­tion of 22x12-inch Amer­i­can Force Rage SF8S and 37-inch Toyo Open Coun­try tires. The SF8S fea­ture a sig­na­ture “nest of thorns” spoke pat­tern with ma­chined faces, pol­ished lip, matte-black bar­rel and matte spoke ac­cents. The Open Coun­try rub­ber is Toyo’s flag­ship off-road of­fer­ing, with an ag­gres­sive tread pat­tern that extends over the side­wall’s shoul­der and is de­signed to tear through dirt and mud. The pat­tern doesn’t hurt the truck’s over­all aes­thetic, ei­ther.


While the sus­pen­sion up­grades were be­ing sorted out, Willsey was also jug­gling mods be­neath the 3500’s hood, prov­ing he is as adept at mul­ti­task­ing as he is turn­ing a wrench. Power mods are ar­ranged around a Wehrli Cus­tom Fab com­pound turbo ar­range­ment of the S480 va­ri­ety. In­duc­tion be­gins with a Wehrli Cus­tom Fab in­take, which feeds into a 75mm trim, billet-wheel Borg Warner at­mos­phere turbo (the Wehrli sys­tem re­tains the fac­tory turbo as the high­pres­sure unit). The com­pressed charge is chilled by an up­rated Mishi­moto in­ter­cooler be­fore be­ing blasted into the en­gine’s com­bus­tion cham­ber. In ad­di­tion to the in­take, all plumb­ing was welded, man­drel-bent, and pow­der­coated blue metal­lic to match the truck’s ex­te­rior by Wehrli Fab.

Aug­mented fuel flow is sup­plied by HSM dual CP3S, fed by a FASS 150 lift pump, push­ing sweet, sweet

Num­ber 2 through the fac­tory injectors. Pow­ertech Diesel’s own Brent Willsey han­dled the pro­gram­ming via EFI Live. In­side the cab, an Edge In­site CTS al­lows the op­er­a­tor to mon­i­tor the pumped-up Duramax’s vi­tal signs.

On the hot side of things, ex­haust fumes are evac­u­ated through ATS man­i­folds and hot-coated up-pipes, through a Flo Pro muf­fler, and out an ex­haust tip fash­ioned by Pow­ertech Diesel. Cit­ing sim­i­lar builds, Pow­ell es­ti­mates his en­gine’s out­put to be around 650 horses and a shade over 1,200 lb-ft of twist. Power and torque reach the ground via the trusted 2015 Al­li­son trans­mis­sion, whose only up­grade was a new ATS pan; the rear dif­fer­en­tial (3.73) is also fit­ted with an en­graved ATS cover. Pow­ell uses Amsoil lubri­ca­tion ex­clu­sively to keep the gears turn­ing smoothly.


Keep­ing with the truck’s clean, low-pro­file theme, the ex­te­rior mods were in­te­grated neatly into the Sil­ver­ado’s ex­ist­ing lines and color-matched to the rest of the pan­els. A T-rex X-metal grille spear­heads the Sil­ver­ado’s for­ward progress. Fu­sion bumpers, im­ported from West Idaho, were placed front and rear. Both bumpers house Rigid In­dus­tries LED light­ing, the front with dual stag­gered ar­rays on each cor­ner, the rear with sin­gle lamps re­cessed on ei­ther side of the li­cense plate well. Each bumper also fea­tures dual Mon­ster tow hooks and an­other in the hitch re­ceiver. The tail­lights were up­graded with high-vis­i­bil­ity Anzo LEDS, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of an LED stripe tucked be­neath the tail­gate. The bed was sprayed with Linex Premium and is iso­lated from the el­e­ments by a Truxedo Deuce tonneau cover.

AMP Re­search 1500 Pow­er­steps have been in­stalled to as­sist the driver and pas­sen­gers with ingress and egress into and out of the lifted truck. The ex­te­rior’s fin­ish­ing touch is a cus­tom-etched skull-and-wings Har­ley-david­son badge sup­plant­ing the Chevy bowtie on the tail­gate, in­di­cat­ing Pow­ell’s pre­ferred mode of trans­porta­tion when he’s not rock­ing this Duramax.

As with most trucks of this class—that is, us­able, un­pre­ten­tious trucks that still get driven to work ev­ery day—the in­te­rior re­mains mostly stock aside from the Edge In­site mon­i­tor. Pow­ell did have a thun­der­ing sound sys­tem in­stalled, com­pris­ing JL Au­dio com­po­nents, amps, and subs tied to the fac­tory head unit. But you’d be hard pressed to tell at first glance. The stealth in­stal­la­tion was per­formed by Emi­nent Hifi lo­cated up the road in Rexburg.

We caught Pow­ell’s Sil­ver­ado in the Ne­vada desert fol­low­ing SEMA 2015, where he was called on to fill a space in the Fu­sion Bumpers booth. Pow­ell and the truck drove the 650-mile trek to Ve­gas and back again, il­lus­trat­ing once again that this rig is meant to be used, not just looked at. Last year he used it to flatbed a cou­ple of project trucks Power Tech Diesel helped put to­gether for the show. And he’ll be mak­ing the trip again this year—with up­dated en­gine and tranny mods, new run­ning lights, an air horn, among other things. And it’s any­one’s guess what he’ll be pulling this time.

Mon­ster Hooks were in­stalled at all cor­ners as well as in the truck’s hitch re­ceiver.

Rigid In­dus­tries flush-mount LED ar­rays were in­stalled in both bumpers, a stag­gered pair up front, and a pair flank­ing the li­cense plate well in the rear.

The 3500’s front end was raised using a Cog­nito Mo­tor­sports non-tor­sion drop lift kit, which in­cludes Cog­nito sub­frame braces and pro­vi­sions for cor­rect CV axle an­gles, en­sur­ing a clean, ag­gres­sive look that won’t throw any joints.

The in­te­rior was kept mostly stock, which makes sense since the truck is still Pow­ell’s daily. Emi­nent Hifi in­stalled a cus­tom sound sys­tem com­pris­ing JL Au­dio com­po­nents hooked into the fac­tory head unit. You can’t re­ally see any trace of the au­dio in­stall, which in our opin­ion is the way any in­stal­la­tion should be.

Fu­sion bumpers front and rear, color-matched to the truck’s dark blue paint­work, add a hint of ag­gres­sion yet keep the over­all look quite clean.

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