Turn­ing a daily-driven Sil­ver­ado up sev­eral notches

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Kyle Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin

ust be­cause a truck has the ba­sic job of daily driver and trailer puller doesn’t mean the driver can’t have fun and look good do­ing it. When Sam Derks from Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, needed a truck to haul his ded­i­cated sled pulling rig, that was his ex­act line of thought. Eric Mer­chant, who owns Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive in Zee­land, Michi­gan, where Derks works as a me­chanic, in­tro­duced him to the world of diesel mo­tor­sports and he hasn’t been able to give it up since. With some ideas and help from his friends at the shop and the goal of mak­ing a ca­pa­ble eye-catcher, he took a week and some hard work to trans­form his black 2011 Chevy 2500 LTZ Sil­ver­ado from well-above-zero into a cus­tom­ized hero.

Derks wanted his Sil­ver­ado to look a lit­tle tougher as well as per­form across a va­ri­ety of ter­rain, so some choice sus­pen­sion mod­i­fi­ca­tions were se­lected. Four-inch blocks were in­stalled in the rear and a six-inch Cog­nito non-tor­sion bar drop lift was equipped up front to get the Chevy up to the right level. Fox Rac­ing shocks and Cog­nito up­per con­trol arm kits were mounted up front as well as match­ing Fox shocks in the rear to tighten the han­dling per­for­mance of the lifted ma­chine. Derks also up­graded with a Cog­nito pit­man and idler arm sup­port kit. With the Sil­ver­ado’s aug­mented height, Derks went with Fuel 22-inch wheels with Toyo Open Coun­try AT 325/50R22 tires to com­plete the look and bol­ster the per­for­mance.

Want­ing to free up some of the power of the LML Duramax, but not want­ing to go over the top with a full en­gine build, Derks opted for some bolt-on air­flow and fuel up­grades as well as tun­ing. An AFE in­take was in­stalled and a FASS Ti­ta­nium 150 lift pump and fil­ter sys­tem paired with the stock CP4 in­jec­tion pump. A four-inch MBRP ex­haust sys­tem has­tens spent fumes out of the en­gine. To fully take ad­van­tage of the new com­po­nents and wake up the Duramax’s po­ten­tial, Fleece Per­for­mance Engi­neer­ing pro­vided cus­tom EFILIVE tun­ing that puts this mo­tor into the 500-horse­power ball­park.

To han­dle the rig­ors of tow­ing and the en­gine’s in­creased power, Derks chose Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive’s MA700 up­grade kit for the Al­li­son trans­mis­sion. Con­sist­ing of per­for­mance grade clutches and steels, a deep pan, TCS triple-disc bil­let steel torque con­verter, and an MA mod­i­fied valve body, this trans­mis­sion is ready han­dle what­ever loads Derks throws at the truck.

When it came to looks, Derks felt the LTZ pack­age of the 2011 Sil­ver­ado didn’t leave much room for im­prove­ment, so he fo­cused more on the de­tails. For form and func­tion, a Line-x bed­liner was sprayed in and a black di­a­mond plate Weather Guard tool­box was dropped in to house tools, straps and other mis­cel­la­neous truck stuff. Pair­ing with the slick black fac­tory paint is dark win­dow tint, blacked-out Chevy em­blems, lightsmoked Re­con LED tail­lights and a fully smoked Re­con LED third brake light. In­side, the black-on­black leather in­te­rior and burl wood trim of­fers plenty of style and com­fort for a daily driver and pull-truck hauler. The only ad­just­ment needed was the ad­di­tion of the Au­tome­ter Sport-comp II gauges in an A-pil­lar pod show­ing boost and EGT so Derks can keep a close eye on the LML while tow­ing heavy loads.

With ev­ery el­e­ment ad­dressed that Sam Derks was look­ing for, he was able to bump up a ca­pa­ble truck into a per­fect driver/hauler. With ex­tra ground clear­ance, plenty of power to tow his puller and spin up some tire smoke when nec­es­sary, and clean looks with sub­tle cus­tomiza­tion, this Sil­ver­ado is ready for any­thing. It doesn’t have to be a drag racer, sled puller, or show truck to de­serve some love and at­ten­tion, as Derks’ daily driver proves. With a lit­tle bit of taste­ful cus­tomiza­tion, your daily driver can be­come your daily hero. UDBG

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